Disconnection Notices: Networks and Power at the Intersection of Technology, Biology, and Finance Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bollmer, Grant David
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
  • This dissertation argues that the concept of the network has brought together technology, economics, biology, and the social under a feigned logic of totality. This study examines the origins and everyday implications of this totalizing network discourse. When networks are taken to describe all relations, the connections and flows of the above four areas define all that exists. But we are not connected thanks to the material structure of new technological and social networks. Instead, we have been made to think of ourselves as connected through the naturalization of an ideology. That which does not connect properly is rendered an aberration from existence. This dissertation is comprised of two parts. The first part argues that the academic theorization of networks emphasizes materiality and nature in such a way as to assume there are no alternatives to networks. Connectivity and flow inevitably ground all possibilities for our contemporary moment, if not all eternity. This reading of networks is ahistorical. When the history of network discourse is acknowledged, it is clear that our understanding of networks has cultural origins that are centuries old. Networks, connectivity, and flow are contingent assumptions about reality, naturalized through technology and discourse. The second part examines how the naturalization of network ideology produces subjects that are compelled to manage connectivity and flow throughout the network as a whole. Connection management does not stop at the individual. Managing the self is equated to the management of the network--and the management of the entire network is impossible. Thus, individual human beings are rendered insignificant or dangerous to the management of connection and flow. The two case studies discussed in this part, which examine various forms of social networks, together present how the empowerment produced through connectivity becomes disempowerment when individuals must manage both their own personal connections and flows along with the connectivity and flow of the networked totality.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Communication Studies."
  • Sharma, Sarah
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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