Network Character: Social Character of the Network Society

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:36
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Evelyn HONEYWILL, Macquarie University, Australia
In this paper I engage with Erich Fromm’s (1941) theory of social character as a pertinent analytical lens through which phenomena relating to the transformative realities of network globalisation can be considered. By employing the theory of social character, the paper examines how technologically mediated social action intersects with and mutually enables the reproduction of the socio-economic requirements specific to a so-called network society. I deploy the concept of network character in order to capture the shared experiences and practices specific to increasingly interconnected and globalising socio-cultural milieus, experiences and practices no longer effectively captured by state-centralist paradigms.  The properties of network character are explored through current empirical research. My analysis represents a novel sociological line of enquiry through which the transnational flow of material and non-material commodities, ideas, activities and identities can be better understood. The network character actualises a praxis that works to augment the network’s global reach and influence across imperatives that are at once individual, social and systemic. As an analytical construct the positing of a network character allows for the acknowledgment of the dominance of technologically enacted social transformations while avoiding the pitfalls of technological determinism or apathy.