Class and Society in the Digital Age: The New Suzerains

By Michael J. Lynch and Douglas McConatha.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Access to the digital world is rapidly becoming a prerequisite for participation in the global economic system. A similar (albeit currently weaker) case can be made vis-à-vis today’s social systems, particularly with regard to social networking and educational opportunities. Far from being “the great equalizer”, one can understand the Internet’s role as a mechanism allowing for the mobility of the “newly privileged” within networks of relatively weak ties to flourish and where access to channels of economic, political and social participation become limited for those stuck in the lacunae of digital deprivation. While the potential for altering the balance of both economic and social power through this new digital ecosystem is a given, what is not so certain are the means for distribution of and access to these new digital realms. This is not a simple “digital divide” question. It transcends this familiar inquiry and begs the question of who controls these new environments and what are the formal and informal principles that determine admission and exclusion norms set forth by the “owners” of these new worlds. These, and other questions, are analyzed using the construct of an evolving Digital Suzerainty.

Keywords: Digital Worlds, Technology, Social Change, Social Class

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.15-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.754MB).

Michael J. Lynch

Temple University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA

Department of Sociology, Temple University of Pennsylvania, USA

Douglas McConatha

Professor/Chair, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, PA, USA

Dr. McConatha has designed, launched, and managed, as chairman and/or CEO, three for-profit companies providing educational opportunities to targeted populations. These include two research and education organizations (GeroCorp LLC,1984-1996, a pre-retirement education company, and WebStudy Inc.1996-present, a distance learning software and service company) and one Internet-based enterprise (Circle Of Learning.com, 1998-2001, which promoted teaching and learning with large national age 50+ membership organizations). He has also served as Dean of Health Sciences and Associate Dean/Director of Sponsored Research at West Chester State University. Additionally he designed and implemented the first national study to demonstrate the Internet’s effect on reducing depression among the elderly. Featured on NBC News, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Forbes Magazine, Le Monde, and more than forty additional national and international publications. He has published more than thirty articles in scientific journals, presented fifty papers, and appeared as a featured panelist on aging issues at numerous seminars and conferences, including The Gerontological Society of America, AARP, International Gerontological Society, Gero-Technology, UNESCO, American Health Care Association (AHCA) and others.