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Social Intermediaries as the Third Other: Web 2.0 and the Conceptualisation of Sociality and Agency
Halmstad University, School of Social and Health Sciences (HOS), Center for Social Analysis (CESAM), Social Change, Learning and Social Relations (SLSR).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7628-5829
2011 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Over recent years significant changes in the nature of online communication have taken place, not the least because of the emergence of Web 2.0 and the subsequent proliferation of Social Network Sites (SNS). These changes have provided researchers, scholars and critics with a multi-levelled field of investigation while at the same time illuminating the need for having a precise conceptual apparatus which bears a possibility to account for the social dynamics of contemporary online phenomena. This paper explores the possibility to understand the various appearances of Web 2.0 and SNS as bringing forth a number of changes in the social as well as institutional arrangements surrounding their being used. In overall terms, these phenomena are conceptualised from a perspective that either focuses on individual instrumentality or institutional exploitation. Whereas the instrumental view primarily locates agency at the level of individual users and the personal benefits associated with the performance of various technologically mediated actions, the institutional view ascribes agency to the Web 2.0 applications which are assumed to commercially deploy their users as objects of inquiry and sources of information. In this paper, these ideas are further elaborated by suggesting a conceptual separation between individual- oriented and system-oriented agency that lays the foundation for developing a conceptual apparatus that accounts for the social dynamics of Web 2.0 and SNS. Taking the different ways of locating agency as a point of departure, it is furthermore suggested that the term ‘social intermediaries’ provides a possibility to conceptualise Web 2.0 and SNS from the perspective of their functional position in the social realm, thus providing an important alternative to contemporary instrumental and institutional accounts. Drawing on Georg Simmel’s understanding of sociality, the notion of social intermediaries is conceptualised as a ‘third Other’ that is assumed to intervene in the social realm and the processes as well as practices of of which it consists. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-17001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-17001DiVA: diva2:482206
Conference
Kultursociologisk konferens, Linnéuniversitetet: Kultursociologi och kritik. Växjö, Sweden. 18‐19 nov. 2011
Projects
Nätgemenskapernas socialitet
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Available from: 2012-01-23 Created: 2012-01-23 Last updated: 2013-10-15Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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