What is Holding Societies Together? On Culture Forms, World Models, and Concepts of Time
Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, Vol. 53, pp. 1-22, 2011
48 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2011 Last revised: 21 Jun 2011
Date Written: February 23, 2007
What is holding societies together? The question is curiously moving. Do societies fall apart, then? And if they do, what do their parts fall into, if not once again into what we call society? So is the question redundant? Or is it just being put the wrong way? Should we perhaps start out by saying that they do hold together while falling apart, or even that what keeps them together is, in fact, that they fall apart, and vice versa? In the paper we maintain that one way to phrase the title question is to look for the introduction of new media of the distribution of communication as chocks forcing society to develop new structures to both reject and accept possible communication. We develop a kind of media archeology by checking this thesis in the four cases of language, writing, printing press, and computer, respectively. We show that four models, the ethnological, the ontological, the functional, and the ecological help to hold society together by precisely asking the question of how it holds together.
Keywords: computer, culture, language, media, printing press, society, recursion, structure, writing
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