New modes of integration: Individuality and sociality in digital networks
The rapid and fundamental changes of societal communication that occur against the backdrop of current media development (digitization) call for an extension of communication research by revisiting the social theoretical foundations of social cohesion and integration. Arguing that social change and media change are intimately tied up, we discuss important changes in the means and modalities of communication in the digital era as indicative of — and bound to — changes in contemporary modern societies. Based on a discussion of the concepts individualization and network, the paper devises a theoretical perspective that places current media convergence firmly at the center of social change. At the heart of this approach lies the concept of networked individuality as an increasingly important mode of creating personal identity and shaping social relations today.