A critical social systems view of the internet

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (4):471-500 (2007)
Abstract
The article discusses principles that form part of evolutionary systems thinking in social sciences and humanities. It is argued that introducing the concept of self-organization relates agency and structures in a way that makes it possible to take up certain features of Critical Theory by which it can meet the demands for a critical social science. These principles are applied to the question of whether there is convergence or divergence in and by means of the Internet. It will be clarified that the Internet is basically a social system and that it is a subsystem of the larger and overarching system of the whole society. It will be shown how the Internet can be perceived as a possible trigger for societal developments bringing about fundamental change in the nature of society. Thus the article cuts across philosophical, system theoretical, social theoretical, sociology of technology, and information society theory considerations. Key Words: dynamic • "mechanism" • self-organizaton • revolution • evolution • Critical Theory • information society • Internet.
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