global sociology

"Highly recommended" : 'Les Liaisons Numériques' selon Global Sociology (14 mars 2011)

Le blog américain Global Sociology publie une riche recension de l’ouvrage d’Antonio A. Casilli Les liaisons numériques. Vers une nouvelle sociabilité ? (Seuil). Communauté, individualisme, espace public, corps et réseaux sociaux : les notions analysées dans le livre de Casilli resonnent avec les débats contemporaines autour de la vie privée, la stratification sociale et l’accès à l’information.

The weak ties between members of virtual communities and social networks fill structural holes and give members access to resources that they would not have access to, if they were limited to bonding capital and to off-line preexisting relationships. And once structural holes are filled, information circulates more easily. On a larger, and more political, scale, this is what Wikipedia does: not so much revealing secrets but making information circulate, and, at the same time, exposing the fact that traditional media operate more like the little boxes of bonding relationships (and in the little box, you have political and media elites). In this sense, online “friends” (as in “Facebook friends”) are conduits of information more than they are friends (in the traditional sense). I have to say that I use my Twitter timeline, in part, as a source of information (along with my newsreader) and no longer television. It may feel, at times, that the book is a bit all over the place. It is. And I think it is deliberate. The entire book is not so much a study as an exploration of the diversity of ties and of the various forms that sociability takes in the context of Web 2.0. It is rich in examples and case studies, along with the more traditional social-scientific research. It is also highly readable and the numerous “stories” make it quite entertaining. As I mentioned above, I do hope it gets translated in English soon. Highly recommended (for French-reading audiences, that is).

'Global Sociology Blog': la blogosphère américaine parle de 'Les liaisons numériques'

La blogosphère étasunienne s’intéresse à Les liaisons numériques (Seuil, 2010). Le nouvel ouvrage d’Antonio A. Casilli (EHESS, Paris) fait l’objet d’un billet du prestigieux Global Sociology Blog. En prenant comme point de départ une récente interview parue dans Le Monde, le blog met en perspective les thèses exposées dans l’ouvrage et les fait résonner avec les débats contemporaines autour de la citoyenneté, la stratification sociale et l’accès à l’information.

Global Sociology occupe une place de choix parmi les blogs anglophones en sciences humaines et sociales. Grâce à son style à la fois universitaire et attentif aux questions de société, il s’est imposé comme l’un des blogs de sociologie les plus influents et les mieux renseignés de le blogosphère internationale.

What Casilli’s work shows though is that homophily is not as intense as one might expect considering the level of choices and options. On the surface, homophily does seem to apply, but on a deeper level, through the use of social networking platforms such as blogs, individuals studied by Casilli were able to reach segments of the population broader than just their similars. Heterophily then can be triggered through what Casilli calls computer-assisted social processes and computer-assisted social interactions. This is a new way in which the personal and the political can merge in new forms of political activism (disclaimer: I have repeatedly expressed my skepticism regarding the effectiveness of ICTs when it comes to political activism but there is no questioning the existence of such forms).

When it comes to social relationships, though, new layers and dimensions are added through social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We have already heard of Facebook break-ups and divorces. Defriending or unfollowing are highly charged actions integrated into other dimensions of social relations. At the same time, Goffman would have had a field day with the many ways in which we manage the presentation of self on social networking platforms and how we sometimes fail and embarrassing photos get viewed by the world and one can lose one’s job. Identity management becomes a business in itself as the public / private distinctions become blurry. (GlobalSociology)