Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman, Networked: The New Social Operating System, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012, 358 pp., $29.95 (hardcover).
IULM University Milan, Italy
There is actually no evidence that we live in a small world and that networks act as a decisive player in our society. In his famous The Metropolis and Mental Life, Simmel (1903/1976)—whom Wellman and Rainie consider as the founder of network theories—talks perhaps about “connected cities” (p. 43), but he actually refers to the effects of monetary economy, which has little to do with the individual’s creativity.
As long as we focus on networks, we can certainly gain an understanding of everyday practices, but before viewing networks as the main organization principles of our societies, we should probably wait for more solid theories to be proposed that take power issues into due consideration. The shift toward network analysis can actually pose a very serious risk: that of forgetting the importance of the main social operating system of modern history—social class.
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