Reorganising the social

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Over the last few years, people have been becoming increasingly aware of the power and potential that media technologies and networks to be a catalyst in so many aspects of our society. This week’s focus zoomed in on micropolitics and the way technologies contribute to influencing social organisation, particularly politically.

What we see happening is less “Politics – with a capital P” (Himada & Manning, 2009:5 in Disorientation and micropolitics: a response) and more micropolitics. Micropolitics is the “use of formal and informal power by individuals and groups to achieve their goals within organizations, as opposed to macropolitics” (Wikipedia). The key difference, I believe is that “micropolitics operates transversally, activating the “affective potential of the interval between feeling and doing” (Himada & Manning, 2009: 5).” (Disorientation and micropolitics: a response)

What this means is that members of the public hold the power to communicate and instigate because they are members of the public. Their position as “little people” as opposed to the “big people” in the government means that they are on the same level. It’s our human nature to want to feel powerful, but also that we are being listened to. Why else do politicians now upload youtube clips and twitter on but to reach out to the common man?

I believe the fact that social organisation can be done locally, gives people the feeling that they are making change.P2P Foundation is a good example of this, and is embodied in Margaret Mead’s quote: “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. – Margaret Mead”. It empowers people. As we have seen previously, empowering people is both good and bad. Riots and revolutions like the recent Middle East events are an example of social organisation that relied on technological networks.

Coalition of the Willing is a volunteer network that recognises this power and on their homepage, they state: “We are interested in social technologies and innovations that accelerate processes of change, transition, and resilience.” The idea of “acceleration” is an interesting concept. In looking at new media, one of the key features is the temporal; the fact that communication happens a lot quicker since mobile media and internet. P2P Foundation’s homepage quotes Buckminster Fuller in “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” (Fuller), which builds on this idea. Is it possible that soon old methods of politics and social organisation will be so ineffective in comparison to new methods that they’ll be obsolete?

Just as we have seen in previous weeks such as the paradox of virtual realities and the potential harm it presents, social organisation through new media empowers the little people, but it can easily be abused.

References:

P2P Foundation

Disorientation and micropolitics: a response

Coalition of the Willing

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