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E-Topia as Cosmopolis or Citadel. On the Democratizing and De-democratizing Logics of the Internet, or, Towards a Critique of the New Technological Fetishism

Hand, M. and Sandywell, B. (2002) E-Topia as Cosmopolis or Citadel. On the Democratizing and De-democratizing Logics of the Internet, or, Towards a Critique of the New Technological Fetishism. Theory, Culture and Society, 19 ( 1-2). pp. 197-225. ISSN 0263-2764

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Abstract

We present a critical appraisal of the impact of the Internet (and related information technologies) upon processes of democratization and de-democratization in contemporary society. We review accounts of `the information revolution' as these have become polarized into mutually exclusive rhetorics of future cosmopolitan or citadellian e-topias. We question the Manichean assumptions common to both rhetorics: particularly the fetishism of information technology as an intrinsically democratizing or de-democratizing force on societies. In opposition to this new technological fetishism we focus upon (1) Internet historicity; (2) the human/machine nexus; (3) Internet policing and appropriation presenting a different story of the Net, emphasizing contingent, indeterminate and negotiable characteristics of sociotechnical systems, preparing for a more radical critique of existing theories of `global technological citizenship'. Refiguring `culture' as technopoiesis, we argue that an alternative approach to global civil society minimally presupposes a cultural sociology of the Internet: approaching information technologies as the product of specific sociocultural practices and as historical sites of ethico-political transformation and reflexive self-figuration.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2009 10:50
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2009 10:50
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/026327640201900110
Status: Published
Publisher: Sage Publications
Identification Number: 10.1177/026327640201900110
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7742

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