The Network Society Paradigm & Liquid Life

WHAT IS THE NETWORK SOCIETY PARADIGM?

Firstly, I would like to introduce this blog post by breaking down what this module was focusing on before diving deeper into its aspects and the main focal example I will be using: Liquid Life. 

The idea of the network society paradigm is simply – “a society whose social structure is made up of networks powered by micro-electronics-based information and communications technologies.” Theorist of the concept, Manuel Castells (2004 p. 3). 

Communication was never always as electronic based as it is today. In fact, it was always at a distance in and not at all ‘constant’ until the 19th Century. Around this time came the invention of the telegraph (1837), and from this moment communication became ever so changing. Now, this is where the idea of the network society comes into play. “…absolutely annihilating space and running in advance of time…a net-work of nerves of iron wire…” (The New York Tribune, 1845). 

THE NETWORKS

Centralized – the idea of a centralized network is it being owned/run by one company/community. This allows for that one authority figure to gain control over content, servers, or source codes. This is the type of network which aligns with most contemporary applications around today. “Data resides on a centrally owned database controlled by a company.”

Decentralized – these types of networks are made up of more than one node unlike centralized networks. They are not run by authority, for each separate node acts as its own, however are all existing within the same space. 

Distributed –  these networks are the type. They are made up of multiple nodes like Decentralized, however what differs here is the way they interact. “Applications in which computation is distributed across components, communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages. The components interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.”

CYBERSPACE

Cyberspace is explained to be a graphic representation of data – a consensual hallucination. (William Gibson,1984). The idea of cyberspace is that it is the home of the mind, an existence within that of ourselves, but also an external factor. Think of this as the vast world of the internet and the way it exists within thought or, a hallucination if you will. “Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.” 

LIQUID LIFE?

Now that I have briefly discussed the idea of the network society paradigm, its networks and the identity of cyberspace in relation to the vast existence of the internet, I will be introducing Liquid Life. 

Going off how the telegraph changed communication, how the internet and mobile phones grew from the extensive technological advancements of time, it is only right to assume the way society as a whole changes. New ideas, new ways of communicating, creating and displaying yourself openly to the world through the web. 

I’m sure we can all think of plenty of changes to society based on these factors, however one that really stuck out to me is the ideas of Liquid Life, or Liquid Labour. Today, everyday life has become another way of working. Everything is about work, rather than about life-style. This has created the ideology of Liquid Life, which can also be referred to as Liquid Labour. 

This brings us to the New Capitalism. “The relationships of capital and labour, argues Manuel Castells, are increasingly individualized and organized around the network enterprise form of production, which integrates the work process globally through telecommunications, transportation and client-customer networks. Such worldwide integration introduces a fundamental aspect of unpredictability to the nature of work,” 

This is the age of working culture, of hustle culture, of being overworked and enjoying it. Or, rather, presenting yourself as if you enjoy it. “…Not only does never stop hustling – one never exists a kind of work rapture…In the new work culture, enduring or even merely liking one’s job is not enough. Workers should love what they do, and then promote that love on social media, thus fusing their identities to that of their employers.”

THE LOGIC OF FREE INFORMATION FLOWS DEMANDS LABOUR THAT IS UNRESTRAINED BY BOARDERS AND ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR WORK.

All of this comes from, as explored through ‘Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media work’, a lack of stability and security. We do not work for a career any more, not really, in contemporary times aligned with that of social media, and networking, we instead create for short term effects. What is going to get this result right now, for we do not know how long this opportunity will last. The new capitalism. This has become extremely prevalent in the way of working off social media platforms. Everything is based on current flows, trends and catching up. 

This idea of Liquid Life is not something majorly negative, though nor is it inherently positive. This type of ‘hustle culture’ has created mass amounts of opportunities for society. It’s this idea that “anyone can make it”, anyone can achieve big goals and aspirations. Especially from social media platforms like Instagram. Anyone can gain success, power and influence over networks. 

That being said, this type of work-style not life-style has enabled the lack of self-care. When everything becomes about work and not about life – about a healthy balance between the two – then you will often find yourself a victim of burn out, “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion…” This wave has moved forward the lack of care one has for themself, which is why the importance of self-care is so important within today’s society. For you will never be performing at your best when struggling in the overwhelming nature of hustle culture.

Liquid Life offers up both positives and negatives for the future in society, and like most things, it is incredibly important to structure a healthy balance between the two and to start living a style and work style. 

REFERENCES 

A declaration of the independence of Cyberspace (2016) Eff.org. Available at

A Global Nervous System [BCM206] (no date) Prezi.com. Available at

Ashby, J. (no date) 1.4 The network society, Soas.ac.uk. Available at

Centralized vs decentralized vs distributed (2019) Blockchainengineer.com. Available at

Civilization of the mind: understanding the network society paradigm (no date) Prezi.com. Available at

Griffith, E. (2019) “Why are young people pretending to love work?,” The New York times, 26 January. Available at

Mark Deuze (Indiana University) (2006) “Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work.” Available at

Melinda (no date) “Burnout prevention and treatment – HelpGuide.Org.” Available at 

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