n South African Journal of Higher Education - The ambivalence of modern technology and the 'digital divide' : gathering and scattering of sociality and sociability in the global network society : leading article

Volume 29, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article takes up Heidegger's (1977) concern that modern technology holds both a danger and a saving grace for society. Society as such is in the grip of a technological instrumentality with its attendant 'will to power' that paradoxically threatens to disrupt our humanity and sociality; while, simultaneously, offering us a saving grace in equipmentality (Dreyfus 1991, 1992; Heidegger 1962; Verbeek 2005) from within the frenzy of technological activity. This contention is taken up by engaging Castells' (2001) theoretical substantiation of the network society, in the Information and Internet Age, with a view to tracking into specific transformational dynamics of the new modalities of the social, economic, technological and global. The aim of the article is to consider how the Internet-based transformations offer themselves up as nodal points that gather people's sociality and sociability in the 'virtual' world. And by contrast consider how the latter dimensions of social being as predicated upon individualism are scattered throughout the labyrinthine 'cyber world'. Thus, the article seeks to think through how both moments of gathering and scattering are recast in the new global informational-intellectual division of labour as mirrored in the 'Digital Divide'. The author closes by reflecting on South Africa, as engaged in this Internet-based new global network, and considers the incorporation of developing countries into the new global order, as a function of new social inequalities and subject positions that are emergent and made manifest, in one of its forms, as 'scatterlings' of the Digital Divide.

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