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Acquisition of new communication media and social (dis)connectivity

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The article discusses the relation between communication media and social (dis)
connectivity. The question is how communication media provide society with different
possibilities for (dis)connectivity in different historical media societies. The article
draws on Luhmann’s sociocybernetics theories of social systems and communication
media in combination with media theory (especially Meyrowitz). As a starting point,
the acquisition of oral language made communicative connections and thereby
society possible. Later the written media, print media and analogue electronic media
opened up new possibilities for social systems to develop structures with new forms
of communicative connections. Even though society is only possible because of
communication media, which offer new ways of forming new structures that provide
new connection possibilities, a new communication medium, especially in the beginning,
causes problems and disconnectivity. After the introduction of the printing press in
Europe, a great interpretation disagreement broke out and wars raged across the
continent for the next centuries. Later with the invention of radio and film, dictators,
especially Hitler, benefited from the new media situation. In the final section, the article
analyses if we also in the present-day society with the acquisition of digital media see
signs of new disconnectivity, and it discusses if we in the new medium society, like in
the former, will experience permanent societal disconnectivity going hand in hand with
new forms of connectivity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Sociology
Pages (from-to)579-593
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

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