Screen Time and the Logic of Identification in the Networked Society

Screen Time and the Logic of Identification in the Networked Society

Cynthia H. W. Corrêa (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch005

Abstract

This theoretical perspective situates the notion of neo-tribalism or tribalism characterized by fluidity, punctual gatherings, and dispersion, independent of the encounter's purpose and interest, as a generator of networks of sociality in the postmodern cyberspace, from the formation of virtual communities or tribes. In this context, the imaginary occupies a central space in everyday life, because, as a representation, it reveals a meaning that goes beyond appearance. The analysis comprises the communication phenomenon as responsible for the constitution of a social bond in the cyberspace, structured under a postmodern condition, a different and a more tolerant style of seeing the world, unlike modern standards. Rather than well-defined roles to perform as it dominated in modern times, in the postmodernity prevails a full integration of the citizen into several communities by affinities and proximity, led by the logic of identification.
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Introduction

Contemporary society highlights the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) in everyday activities. From this relationship between ICT and social life emerge new forms of aggregation in the virtual environment or cyberspace, spontaneously and attracted by the aesthetic pleasure, constituting the named Cyberculture. The social and cultural form that emerges from the symbiotic relationship amid society, culture, and digital technologies focused on communication (Lemos, 2003). In this respect, social relations in the virtual environment are understood through the combination of three main factors, capable of explaining the complexity of Cyberculture. The predominance of an aesthetic culture based on image enhancement, which distinguishes the postmodern age; the social sharing that refers to a tendency of people to form social groups through affinities, by the logic of identification; and the existence of the communication possibilities fueled by digital technologies.

Also, the need to belong to a group is essential to the individual can define its place in the world with the proposal to be recognized as different from many others. The search for identifying traits is a vital source of social significance in a context of extensive organizational disintegration, the progressive loss of legitimacy of institutions and weakening of critical social movements, which occurs during the period of modernity (Hall, 2014). The individual stripped of traditional references seeks for people to share common interests, a continuous action since it is part of the human nature to live in some association format; one needs to join others to form a society (Simmel, 1986). In recent times, this practice has been reinforced by the incidence of global computer networks, which make social contact more intense due to the resurgence of the notion of community as a tribe (Maffesoli, 1996, 1998, 2016) that operates in the arrangement of virtual communities (Rheingold, 1993).

This chapter presents an essay whose thesis statement situates the notion of neo-tribalism or tribalism, characterized according to Maffesoli (1996, 1998, 2016) by the fluidity, punctual gatherings, and dispersion, independent of the interest and purpose of the encounter, as an opportunity to generate networks of sociality in the postmodern cyberspace. Therefore, as a methodological approach, it is an approach based on a theoretical perspective, associating a description of the historical context and bibliographical research. Cyberspace is the symbolic environment where virtual aggregations, such as virtual communities or tribes, are structured and conceived as a sphere of information circulation that does not exist in opposition to the real (Lévy, 1996; Wilbur, 2000; Lastowka & Hunter, 2003). Indeed, the establishment of social relations in the virtual environment serves as a strategy of the individual inserted in a society connected via networks to be recognized and, thus, form sociality, according to the logic of identification and the opportunity of being together (Maffesoli, 1996, 1998, 2016). This natural form of aggregation becomes the assignment mode of identity traits, based on a personal and a subjective choice, of a symbolic dimension. That is the chief difference from the traditional model of the imposition of identity’s characteristics, as the example of cultural identities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Logic of Identification: The search for identification mechanisms is a constant practice nowadays. Hence, there is a gradual slide of identity towards the identification. The differentiating characteristic is in the form of identifying traits when the individual has the chance to belong, based on affinities, to as many communities as she or he wishes. Thus, there is a profound change in the understanding of the concept of identity, which is no longer seen as something fixed but elaborated continuously.

Cyberspace: A virtual or digital space built from the informational structure provided by global networks such as the internet.

Virtual Tribes: Social aggregations constituted in the cyberspace, whose essential components are the appearance, the image, and feelings of affection and emotion. The notion of neo-tribalism or tribalism is characterized by fluidity and dispersion, independent of the interest and purpose of the encounter.

Virtual Communities: Social aggregations that emerge from the Internet to people promote public discussions to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace, according to Howard Rheingold.

Sociality: A fluidity and natural manner of the establishment of relationships in a networked society, according to the logic of identification and the possibility of being together proposed by Michel Maffesoli.

Cyberculture: The social and cultural form emerged from the symbiotic relationship amid society, culture, and digital technologies focused on communication.

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