Communication and the social production of knowledge. A ‘new contract’ for the ‘society of individuals’
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The current chaotic and disordered social systems are undergoing a (critical) phase of change marked by the advent of an interconnected economy, an economy which is calling to attention certain questions regarding the issue of citizenship. Under discussion are the new opportunities for emancipation offered by the widespread knowledge which is fuelling the networks of protection and social promotion. The links of interdependence and interconnection are intensifying, even if some observers continue to hypothesize the possible end of the social bond. The old industrial model consisting of consolidated orders, hierarchies, logics of control and closure to change seems on the point of being broken by the new knowledge ecosystem. On the other hand, we are living in an age increasingly marked by the fragmentation of the systems of belonging and belief ‒ the real producers of individual and collective identity ‒ and by the consequent affirmation of individual and utilitarian values. This is a sort of “tyranny of the individual” which presents itself as a real centrifugal force capable of corroding the ties within the social system and thus testing their resilience. This process of progressive weakening and flaking away finds further confirmation in the widespread deficit of social and political participation, which is itself fuelled by a climate of general mistrust towards all the (formal and informal) institutions that used to be the sole agencies responsible for the transmission of value and knowledge guidance systems. The thesis that we shall therefore seek to discuss is the following: the individualism dominant in our social systems is the result – to some extent the inevitable result ‒ of a process/project of emancipation that has been brought forward in the course of modernity. This process of emancipation, first of the masses, then of the Subject, has, on the one hand, increased the spheres of freedom and led to the recognition of certain fundamental rights (at least on a theoretical level); on the other hand, it has contributed to the weakening of the ties and bonds of belonging to a Community.
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