Social Theory of the Digital World – Construction and Constitution of the ‘Digitally Augmented Life-World’

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:00
Oral Presentation
Jochen DREHER, Department of Sociology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
The digital world is characterized by internet based communication with applications such as email, chats, mobile telephones, smartphones etc. Through digital communication spatial distances between humans shrink and the exchange of experience, knowledge and information is accelerated. The emergence of a multifaceted virtual space established a new reality dimension with specific social relationships and forms of sociation as well as personal relationships. To capture the specificity of the digital world, a bridge will be established between digital sociology and sociological theory in offering a particular theoretical framework. Social theoretical reflections on the digital world part from a combination of a sociological with a phenomenological perspective dedicated to the analysis of the “construction” and the “constitution” of virtual reality. The sociological standpoint concentrates on the social “construction” (Berger/Luckmann) of the digital world in concrete socio-historical contexts that can be empirically reconstructed. From the phenomenological standpoint following Edmund Husserl and Alfred Schutz, the general principles of “constitution” of the (digitally augmented) life-world, e.g. based on consciousness activities, are in the focus of the argumentation. It will be demonstrated that the mediatized, digitally augmented life-world massively extended the zone of the “there and now” as opposed to the “here and now,” establishing new forms of communication. The digitally augmented life-world is characterized by “ontological insecurity” since third parties are involved in the process of data collection related to our individuality when individual fingerprints are created without our knowledge of it. Communication is no longer based on authenticity, confidentiality and integrity, since the digitally augmented life-world does not include a manipulatory area anymore that can totally be controlled by ourselves.