Understanding social media requires us to engage with the individual and collective meanings that diverse stakeholders and participants give to platforms. It also requires us to analyse how social media companies try to make profits, how and which labour creates this profit, who creates social media ideologies, and the conditions under which such ideologies emerge. In short, understanding social media means coming to grips with the relationship between culture and the economy. In this thorough study, Christian Fuchs, one of the leading analysts of the Internet and social media, delves deeply into the subject by applying the approach of cultural materialism to social media, offering readers theoretical concepts, contemporary examples, and proposed opportunities for political intervention. Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media is the ultimate resource for anyone who wants to understand culture and the economy in an era populated by social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google in the West and Weibo, Renren, and Baidu in the East. Updating the analysis of thinkers such as Raymond Williams, Karl Marx, Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, and Dallas W. Smythe for the 21st century, Fuchs presents a version of Marxist cultural theory and cultural materialism that allows us to critically understand social media’s influence on culture and the economy.
The specific task of this paper is to describe cyberprotest as a self-organizing system. Cyberprotest is a global structural coupling and mutual production of self-organization processes of the Internet and self-organization processes of the protest system of society. In cyberprotest the self-organization of the Internet system and the self-organization of the protest system produce each other mutually in a self-organization process, hence cyberprotest is a self-organization of self-organization processes, a form of second-order self-organization.
The Internet is a global socio-technological system that is based on a technological structure consisting of networked computer networks that works with the help of the TCP/IP protocol and stores objectified human knowledge, human actors permanently re-create this global knowledge storage mechanism by producing new informational content, communicating in the system, and consuming existing informational content in the system; the technological infrastructure enables and constrains human communication. The Internet consists of both a technological infrastructure and communicating human actors. Together these two parts form a socio-technological system, the technological structure functions as a structural mass medium that produces and reproduces networked communicative actions and is itself produced and reproduced by communicative actions. The technical structure is medium and outcome of human agency, it enables and constrains human activity and thinking and is the result of productive social communication processes. Important qualities that are connected with the Internet as a socio-technological system are Open Source, Virtual Reality, globalization, and many-to-many dialogue. Traditional mass media have been based on one-to-many-communication, whereas the Internet is based on many-to-many-communication. Hence the Internet has a large intrinsic democratic potential. In the terminology of Vilém Flusser it can be said that it could support a shift from discursive media society to dialogic media society.
Molti fenomeni complessi non possono essere compresi a partire dalla conoscenza dei costituenti elementari, poiché, interagendo tra loro danno luogo a una dinamica globale profondamente diversa. Ed ecco apparire piante, animali, popolazioni, organizzazioni, mercati, spontaneamente emergenti dal basso. Nessun capo, ma vere e proprie auto-organizzazioni: è il mistero più affascinante della scienza. Auto-organizzazioni, abbiamo delineato le caratteristiche di queste architetture più semplici, proponendo un nuovo schema organizzativo fondato sulle caratteristiche dell’auto-organizzazione, identificato da quattro principi generali tratti da altrettanti modelli rinvenibili nella letteratura più recente (l’organizzazione circolare, l’olografica, la cellulare e l’olonica).
I consider the developmental origins of the socially extended mind. First, I argue that, from birth, the physical interventions caregivers use to regulate infant attention and emotion (gestures, facial expressions, direction of gaze, body orientation, patterns of touch and vocalization, etc.) are part of the infant’s socially extended mind; they are external mechanisms that enable the infant to do things she could not otherwise do, cognitively speaking. Second, I argue that these physical interventions encode the norms, values, and patterned practices distinctive of their specific sociocultural milieu. Accordingly, not only do they enhance and extend the infant’s cognitive competence. They also entrain the infant to think and act in culturally appropriate ways. These physical interventions are thus arguably the earliest examples of social practices that scaffold the infant’s cognitive development and shape the development of their cultural education.
Gallagher and Vygotsky’s point still stands. In order to understand the development of mature forms of cognition—including social cognition—we must trace their ontogenetic development as it unfolds interpsychologically, that is, within the dynamics of social interaction, support by embodied skills, and embedded in encompassing mental institutions. Building on Gallagher’s analysis, this paper has considered the family as the earliest mental institution and, in so doing, briefly tried to shed light on the developmental origins of the socially extended mind.
Maturana and Varela provided the following definition of autopoiesis:
“An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components that produces the components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in the space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network.”
This definition shows that for Maturana and Varela, autopoietic systems are systems that define, maintain, and reproduce themselves. The notion of machine that they employ in the definition might seem a bit misleading because we tend to think of machines as mechanistic and nonliving, but Maturana and Varela in later publications have preferred to speak of autopoietic organizations. Social systems are systems that are based on the interactions of living systems. Maturana considers them as higher-order systems. The question therefore arises if these systems are also autopoietic systems. The paper at hand will discuss this question and try to give an answer that is critical of the one given by the main representative of the theory of social autopoiesis — Niklas Luhmann.
Shaun Gallagher presents an interesting case for the social extension of mind. I argue that there is one way in which Gallagher can argue for social extension, which is continuous with an enculturated model of cognition, such as cognitive integration. This way requires us to think of the mind as extended by social/cultural practices that are specifically targeted at cognitive tasks. The other way in which Gallagher argues for social extension is that social institutions – such as museums or the law – are literal constituents of our minds. This second way involves a number of problems and objections and is inconsistent with an enculturated or practice-based approach. I conclude by urging Gallagher to endorse the first way.
I have argued that the cognitive integration model shows why our minds are socially extended, by presenting a phylogenetic and ontogenetic model of how we develop cognitive capabilities. The key to this model is the notion of cognitive practices. I have also argued that Gallagher’s account of social extension is too synchronic and flirts with concepts such as supervenience, which do not help him to make his case. I have suggested that he stick to making the case in terms of cognitive practices, but then he needs a fuller account of such practices and how they are able to transform our capabilities. Fortunately the integrationist model has already done this job.
I will first discuss how social interactions organize, coordinate, and specialize as “artifacts,” tools; how these tools are not only for coordination but for achieving something, for some outcome (goal/function), for a collective work. In particular, I will argue that these artifacts specify (predict and prescribe) the mental contents of the participants, both in terms of beliefs and acceptances and in terms of motives and plans. We have to revise the behavioristic view of “scripts” and “roles”; when we play a role we wear a “mind.” No collective action would be possible without shared and/or ascribed mental contents. This is also very crucial for a central form of automatic mind-reading (mind ascription). Second, I will argue that often what really matters is the ascribed/prescribed, worn, mind not the real, private one. We have to play (like in the symbolic play) “as if” we had those mental contents. This social convention and mutual assumption makes the interaction work. The ascribed beliefs and goals are not necessarily explicitly there; they might be just implicit as inactive (we act just by routine and automatically) or implicit as potential. The coordination and social action works thanks to these “as if” (ascribed and pretended) minds, thanks to those conventional constructs. Our social minds for social interactions are coordination artifacts and social institutions.
Social systems theory is dominated by a reductionistic individualism and a dualistic functionalism. Especially the latter doesn’t adequately integrate the human being. In order to avoid dualism, mechanistic determinism and reductionism, a dialectical concept of social systems that is based on the notion of self-organization seems necessary. In order to establish a dialectical theory of social self-organization it is appropriate to integrate aspects of Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory. Gidden’ acknowledges the importance of knowledgeable human actors in society and argues that structures are medium and outcome of actions. Structures both enable and constrain social actions. This idea corresponds to saying that social systems are re-creative, i.e. self-organising social systems. Re-creativity is based on the creative activities of human beings. Social structures exist in and through the productive practices and relationships of human actors. The term evolution can be employed in a non-functionalist way that acknowledges the importance of knowledgeable human actors in social systems by conceiving the historical development of society based on a dialectic of chance and necessity and the principle of order through fluctuation in situations of instability and bifurcation. All self-organising systems are information-generating systems. Giddens’ concept of storage mechanisms that allow time-space distanciation of social relationships helps to describe the relationship of information and self-organization in social systems.
This paper tries to link Self-organization theory and Cultural Studies. Its approach can be described as a dialectical Cultural Materialism that integrates aspects from semiotics and systems theory in order to describe culture as an integrative, dynamic, complex, evolving system. Subjective theories conceive culture as opinion, ideas, beliefs, a state of mind of human beings, objective theories consider it as symbolic content stored in objects of the human being’s environment or as collective ideas and world-views and a totality of collective meaningful practices in society, dualistic theories consider it as having independent subjective and objective forms. Culture is a social process that produces common meanings that signify certain entities in a self-organizing system, this process is based on a mutual productive relationship between the subjective culture of a human being (his ideas, norms, values, beliefs) and objective cultural structures (meaningful cultural artefacts with symbolic content, and collective norms, ideas, values, rules, traditions, world-views (Weltanschauung) ethics, morals). Knowledge is a threefold dynamic social process of cognition, communication, and cooperation, an active productive relationship between knowledgeable human beings. Collective norms, values, rules, world-views, traditions, morals, and ethics as well as cultural products store knowledge about the social world and reduce the complexity of the social world, they are objective cultural knowledge. Objective cultural knowledge and subjective cultural knowledge (individual ideas) produce each other mutually.
The aim of this paper is to outline some foundational aspects of a theory of self-organising social change. Synchronous social self-organisation is based on a contradiction between structures and actors that produces emergent results. The cycle of expanded reproduction of capital outlined by Marx can be interpreted as economic type of autopoiesis or self-reproduction. Aspects of Marxist crisis theory can be incorporated consistently into the framework of a theory of social self-organisation. Capitalism is a complex, evolutionary, antagonistic system that is shaped by a dialectic of chance and necessity: In diachronic social self-organisation of capitalism, the evolving economic, political and cultural antagonisms as objective conditions of existence again and again result in phases of crisis and instability where the future development of the system is highly undetermined. The objective structures condition a field of possibilities, it is not pre-determined which alternative will be taken. In such phases of crisis and bifurcation, agency and human intervention play an important role in order to increase the possibility that a certain desirable alternative will be taken. Certainty can’t be achieved, but agency also is not made impossible by the principles of self-organising social change. The whole movement of social self-organisation is based on a dialectic relationship of chance and necessity. Regulation theory sees the development of system shaped by a dialectic of chance and necessity as well as by a dialectic of generality and specificity in the same manner as self-Organisation Theory. Mechanistic, reductionistic, economistic and deterministic arguments that have been characteristic for traditional crisis theories are avoided, a crisis of society is not reduced to economic factors and to a single economic antagonism. Regulation theory rather considers besides economical also political and ideological factors as relatively autonomous ones that influence crises of society. An unity of a regime of accumulation and a mode of regulation that is characteristic for a specific mode of development that is shaped by a specific structure of antagonisms is assumed. There are distinct parallels between the regulation approach and self-organisation theory, but the relationship between general and specific categories as well as between chance and necessity is still largely unsettled in the regulation approach (as well as in systems theory). It seems that the regulation school assumes a development of capitalism that is largely shaped by random evolution of antagonistic structures that is not dialectically related to general categories and antagonisms. Nonetheless regulation theory gives us a detailed analysis of Fordism, its crisis and Postfordism as well as a very useful model of the development of society. Hence my own approach is partly based on this theory.
In this paper I suggest that a theory of self-organization can be used as a consistent background theory for explaining the dynamics and logics of globalization. Globalization is not confined to the human realm, it is an attribute of all complex, self-organizing systems. Globalization in a synchronous sense means a micro-macro-link where bottom-up-emergence of new qualities in the self-reproduction of complex systems takes place, it is accompanied by a macro-micro-link of top-down-localization. A dynamic interaction between a global and a local level (glocalization) results in the permanent overall self-reproduction of the system. Globalization in a diachronic sense means the emergence of a new, higher level of self-organization during a phase of instability and heavy fluctuations by order through fluctuation. Globalization is shaped by a dialectic of change and continuity: in the hierarchy that stems from emergent evolution there are both general aspects of globalization and aspects that are specific for each organizational level. Applying this general notion of globalization to society means that human globalization is both a general process that can be found in all societies and a specific process with emergent qualities in concrete phases of societal development. Globalization processes in modern society are based on structural antagonisms that result in uneven developments in the technosphere, the ecosphere, the economy, polity, and culture. The transition to Postfordist, informational capitalism has been a consequence of the development of the structural antagonisms of Fordism and has been accompanied by a new phase of globalization that has transformed the subsystems of society and has resulted in new antagonism that are an expression of general antagonisms that shape modern societies. Hence we find antagonistic tendencies of contemporary globalization in all subsystems of society that result in both risks and opportunities. Human beings have the ability to actively shape society in such a way that an alternative sustainable form of globalization can be achieved.
Society is self-organising or re-creative in the sense that new emergent structures result from interactions of actors, these structures enable and constrain actions and stimulate further practices. Political self-organisation is a reflexive process where political agents co-ordinate their actions in such a way that political power structures emerge and are differentiated, these structures enable and constrain political activities and stimulate further political practices. Power and the establishment of collective decisions are central aspects of the self-organisation of politics. In the modern State system laws are the most important power structures that stimulate political practices. The modern State consists of two subsystems (the system of rule and the system of civil society), it is organised around the competitive accumulation of power. Central features of the modern state include the regulation of economic autopoiesis, it organises and defends the autopoiesis of society within a bounded territory by making use of the monopoly of the means of coercion, it organises the self-observation, self-containment and self-description of modern society and is a meta-storage mechanism of social information. The Postfordist mode of development of society that is based on economic globalisation and transnationalisation has changed the role of the state. Actors such as transnational corporations, non-government organisations and non-profit organisations are gaining increased importance, the structural coupling between the economy and the State is becoming more rigid in the direction where the economy influences the state system, parts of the welfare system are either shifted to the mode of economic autopoiesis or to the system of civil society. Postfordism is shaped by an increase dominance of economic autopoiesis over political, cultural and life-world autopoiesis. This doesn’t imply a “weak state” or the end of the nation state, the latter transforms its functions and answers with measures of re-organisation to the increased globalisation and complexity of the world. Self-observation, self-containment and self-description are altered by the nation state in such a way that the closure of society increases although the openness of the world economy grows.
The aim of this paper is to outline some aspects of the self-organisation of society based on a dialectical methodology. On a very general level, society can be characterised as a re-creative system: By mutual productive relationships of social structures and actors, society can based on human activity and creativity reproduce itself. Social structures are medium and outcome of social actions. This is a synchronous description. Describing society in a diachronic way, one can say that new order emerges in phases of instability and crisis. Society can also be described as the unity of different qualitative moments such as production, consumption, distribution, politics and culture because human activity results in more permanent qualitative moments. A dialectical analysis of society means to consider societal existence as a development process. Dialectics means concretisation and speculation. Hence by ascending from the abstract to the concrete (from the logic of essence to the logic of notion), we discuss the economic self-organisation cycle of capitalism. This process of capital accumulation results in the estrangement and exploitation of the human being by the human being. Capitalist society is not a naturally given pattern, but a historical system. The human being has the ability to consciously behave towards the world, hence it’s possible to change the societal conditions in such a way that true, well-rounded individuality can fully unfold.
The Unified Theory of Information considers society a self-organising and information-generating system hierarchically made up of a series of encapsulated subsystems, as there are technology, ecology, economy, polity, culture. Information society is considered to be endowed with the capability of taking responsibility of the course of societal evolution. According to that, each subsystem can be characterised by an agency-structure contradiction of its own. Starting point is a view of human processes that reconceptualises the central issue in social science – the issue of how agency and structure are to be related – due to a Unified Theory of Information. A Unified Theory of Information looks upon information-generating systems as self-organising systems and considers society and even more information society as just another information-generating and, hence, self-organising system. According to that, social theory is to rest upon a theory of evolutionary systems which, in turn, has to be based upon certain philosophical assumptions. This view of self-organisation in society is able to resort to and integrate important ideas and insights of recent attempts to overcome the dichotomy in social theory which do not explicitly refer to an evolutionary systems theory of society.
Networks of communication evolve in terms of reflexive exchanges. The codification of these reflections in language, that is, at the social level, can be considered as the operating system of society. Under sociologically specifiable conditions, the discursive reconstructions can be expected to make the systems under reflection increasingly knowledge-intensive. This sociological theory of communication is founded in a tradition that includes Giddens’ structuration theory, Habermas’ theory of communicative action, and Luhmann’s proposal to consider social systems as self-organizing. The study also elaborates on Shannon’s mathematical theory of communication for the formalization and operationalization of the non-linear dynamics. The development of scientific communications can be studied using citation analysis. The exchange media at the interfaces of knowledge production provide us with the evolutionary model of a Triple Helix of university-industry-government relations. The construction of the European Information Society can then be analyzed in terms of interacting networks of communication. The issues of sustainable development and the expectation of social change are discussed in relation to the possibility of a general theory of communication.
The aim of this paper is to point out which role the individual plays in the generation of information in social systems. First, it is argued that the individual is a social, self-conscious, creative, reflective, cultural, symbol- and language-using, active natural, producing, labouring, objective, corporeal, living, real, sensuous, visionary, imaginative, designing, co-operative being that makes its own history and can strive towards freedom and autonomy. Based on these assumptions the re-creation/self-organisation of social systems is described as a dialectic of actions and social structures and as a dialectic of individual information and social information. The individual enters economic, political and cultural relationships that result in the emergence and differentiation of social (i.e. economic, political and cultural) information which enables and constrains individual actions and thinking. Individuals as actors in social systems are indispensable for social self-organisation.
The dynamics, politics, and richness of knowledge production in social movements and social activist contexts are often overlooked. This book contends that some of the most radical critiques and understandings about dominant ideologies and power structures, and visions of social change, have emerged from those spaces. Written by authors working closely with diverse social movements, NGOs, and popular mobilizations in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean, it articulates and documents knowledge production, informal learning, and education work that takes place in everyday worlds of social activism. It highlights linkages between such knowledge(s) and praxis/action, and illustrates tensions over whose knowledge and voice(s) are heard.
In this article I am going to discuss the labor market and education opportunities a child born in 2015 could have when they are 16–20 by looking at how technology will disrupt the majority of jobs young people can only perform. I also show the unequal opportunity and discrimination a child of a certain race and/or gender currently faces. Finally I predict how a disenfranchised group of young men may develop as they are less likely to gain the higher skills vital to participate in the future job marker and some of the issues this could cause on a local and global scale.
This paper aims to make a contribution to the ongoing politics of knowledge of those marginalized, made illegible and spoken-over by the contemporary geopolitics of capitalist coloniality. It engages with the rich heritages of popular pedagogical practices, subaltern philosophies and critical theorisations by entering into dialogue with the experiences, projects and practices of social movements who are at the forefront of developing a new emancipatory politics of knowledge for the 21st century.
In this introduction we situate historically, politically and theoretically the centrality of the pedagogical in both the learning of hegemonic forms of life, social relationships and subjectivities but also in practices of unlearning these and learning new ones. We identify the general themes that emerge from the rich cornucopia of experiences discussed in the issue as a contribution to the mapping and nurturing of the ecology of counter-politics of knowledges flourishing across the globe.