Networked Individualism | P2P Foundation

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“‘networked individualism’ = approach led by the Toronto network analyst Barry Wellman. Wellman has denounced the smuggling of obsolete notions of community from an earlier period of North American community studies into Internet localisation studies. Where the old communities had ‘streets and alleys’, Internet researchers are now imagining communities bound ‘by bits and bytes’ (Hampton and Wellman 2003). For Wellman this is an analytical cul-de-sac, for the crucible of North American sociality has long ceased to be the local neighbourhood (Wellman and Leighton 1979). This does not mean, Wellman insists, that communities have disappeared. Rather they have survived in the form of geographically dispersed personal communities, i.e. personal networks (Pahl 2005). The Internet merely reinforces a global trend towards networked individualism that was already well under way (Wellman et al 2003, Castells 2001).” (


Michael Gurstein:
‘Castells and Wellman and his colleagues have argued that the Digital or Information Society (or in their term the “networked society”) results in social relationships characterized by what they call “networked individualism”
– …It is the move from densely-knit and tightly-bounded groups to sparsely-knit and loosely-bounded networks. Each person is a switchboard, between ties and networks. People remain connected, but as individuals, rather than being rooted in the home bases of work unit and household. Each person operates a separate personal community network, and switches rapidly among multiple sub-networks.

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