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Technically TogetherReconstructing Community in a Networked World$
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Taylor Dotson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036382

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036382.001.0001

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The Politics of Networked Individualism

The Politics of Networked Individualism

(p.17) 2 The Politics of Networked Individualism
Technically Together

Taylor Dotson

The MIT Press

This chapter outlines the politics of networked individualism as a social phenomenon, locating the lack of attention to these politics within the discourse surrounding networked individualism in the tendency to naturalize technological change. The theory of networked individualism frames individuals as liberated social entrepreneurs, free to assemble their own portfolios of ties, obscuring how that ability to network and satisfaction gained from it are unequally distributed. Within network discourses, moreover, network technologies are depicted as simply spreading through populations rather than as the result of contingent socio-political factors. The resulting discourse, perhaps inadvertently, is biased toward justifying reverse adapation: The process by which people’s expectations for social life are adapted to what current technologies offer, rather than altering technologies to align with citizens’ view of the good life. Such discourse, if widely accepted, threatens to conserve networked individualism as the status quo mode of being for the foreseeable future.

Keywords:   Politics, Networked individualism, Reverse adaptation, Autonomous technology, The good life, Network discourse, Social study of social science

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