Cyberspatial Transformations of Society: Applying Durkheimian and Weberian Perspectives to the Internet

By David Drissel.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the years since the life and times of Emile Durkheim (1858–1917) and Max Weber (1864–1920), the world’s economic systems and related social structures have undergone profound transformations. Probably more than any other single invention or technological innovation in recent decades, the Internet has transformed societies profoundly, propelling the Information Revolution to unprecedented heights. This paper examines the major sociological theories of Durkheim and Weber, assessing their relevancy and applicability to contemporary social structures that have been dramatically transformed by the ongoing Information Revolution. How would Durkheim and Weber react to the ubiquitous presence of the Internet, e-mail, social networking websites, “smart” cell phones, and other information technologies in today’s world? Using the theories of Durkheim and Weber as a guide, this paper will evaluate the societal implications of information technologies in general and the Internet in particular, focusing on changing structures of authority, social solidarity, interpersonal relations, and the economy. Durkheimian and Weberian perspectives will be applied to several of the most perplexing questions facing the increasingly digitized world of the 21st century.

Keywords: Internet, Cyberspace, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Social Networks, Information Revolution, Industrial Revolution

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.81-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 272.780KB).

Prof. David Drissel

Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, IA, USA

David Drissel is a professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His undergraduate work included a double major in political science and sociology. His graduate studies focused on comparative politics, international relations, social change and development, and social movements. Research interests include transnational social movements and computer-mediated communication, nations/states undergoing political/economic transition, youth subcultures and collective identities, the global politics of Internet governance, juvenile delinquency and subterranean values, diasporic youth and social networking, and the role of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among many other countries. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several papers published in various academic journals and compilations. He is an alumnus of the Oxford (University) Roundtable in Great Britain, where he presented a paper on Internet governance, which was later published in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs.

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