The Ambivalence of Modern Technology and the ‘Digital Divide': Gathering and Scattering of Sociality and Sociability in the Global Network Society

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Booth 44
Oral Presentation
Lingham Lionel THAVER , Anthropology and Sociolgy, University of Western Cape South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

This paper takes up Heidegger’s (1977) concern that Modern Technology holds both a danger and a saving grace in light of the particular kind of relationship we may admit it to having with society. We are thus accordingly in the grip of a technological instrumentality deriving from our anthropological understanding of technology, with its attendant ‘will to power’ that paradoxically threatens to disrupt our humanity and sociality. While, simultaneously, we are being presented with a modality of equipmentality (Heidegger, 1962; Dreyfus, 1991, 1992; Verbeek, 2005) from within the frenzy of technological activity, which paradoxically inures us in our sociality and sociability. This contention is carried through to its articulation in Castell’s (2000, 2001) theoretical substantiation of the Network Society in the Information and Internet Age with a view to opening up and tracking into specific transformational dynamics of the new modalities of the social, economic, technological and the global. The aim behind which is to consider in which ways the Internet- based transformations offer themselves up as nodal points that gather  our sociality and sociability in the ‘virtual’ world. And by contrast consider the ways in which the latter dimensions of social being as predicated upon individualism are scattered throughout the labyrinthine ‘cyber world’. Taken together the paper seeks to think through how both moments of gathering and scattering are recast in the new global informational-intellectual division of labour as mirrored in the ‘Digital Divide’. We close this line of thinking by reflecting on South Africa as engaged in this Internet-based New Global Network, with its ambivalences and consider the incorporation of Developing Countries into the new global order as a function of new social inequalities and subject positions that are emergent and made manifest in one of its forms as “Scatterlings” of the ‘Digital Divide’.