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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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Infrastructures and Organizations: Embedding Members or Networking Individuals?

Infrastructures and Organizations: Embedding Members or Networking Individuals?

(p.83) 5 Infrastructures and Organizations: Embedding Members or Networking Individuals?
Technically Together

Taylor Dotson

The MIT Press

This chapter describes how many contemporary infrastructures and organizations, like the Internet, road networks, and public schooling, stifle the development of thick community. Most are more like indoor plumbing than village wells: They provide no impetus toward social interaction, frame users as atomized consumers, and are impersonal and weakly democratic. Thick communitarian organizations and infrastructures are scaled to the physical limits of symbolic or embodied community, treat goods as common-pool resources to be co-governed by members, and draw residents together into dense social webs. Steering toward more communitarian technological societies will entail better recognizing how different arrangements for buying groceries or fulfilling one’s spiritual needs have ramifying consequences for the practice of community. Finally, the moral dimension of networked infrastructures and organizations is explored. The dominant “technologically liberal” understanding of these structures is paradoxical: They are celebrated as liberating, despite being largely controlled by distant managers and being incompatible with certain modes of being.

Keywords:   Infrastructure, Organizational technology, Atomization, Embedding, Common-pool resources, Networkfication, Technological liberalism

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