‘Network society’ is the term that was firstly introduced by Manuel Castells within the framework of his more wide theory of informatization of the modern society. According to his concept, the wide spread of informational processes in the modern world leads to radical shifts in the society’s social life.
The terms ‘network’ and ‘informational society’ are often used in parallel. However it is worth to mention that the first one has more wide meaning since modern network society is not limited only by technological component, but it also includes a number of other factors: cultural, educational, economic, political and religious. All these parameters affect the formation of a network society.
The development of network technologies within different societies has lead to fundamental changes in their economic life. The production becomes more flexible, it became more responsive to supply and demand due to informational networks, as well as demand became more controlled using informational networks. Finally, the major shifts are taking place in lives of individuals. This applies to forms of employment, everyday life, and even to intimate human relations. Modern information networks have made personal accommodations workplaces for many people, their work schedule became more flexible and their leisure became more diverse.
After my study of the subject matter, I would distinguish certain characteristics of the network society:
- Modern network technology transforms the social structure of the society;
- All the network participants become equal and information (even governmental level) becomes easier to access;
- The Internet is the core of the network society;
- Unlimited civilian online interaction allows for easier communication between governmental and public.
Since I am studying ‘PR and Advertising’, I think that the concept of network society connects to and provides endless new opportunities for public relations and advertising specialists to better access the public and have more close relation with it by having the established global network with the access to almost every individual.
The formation of the network society is associated with certain issues. One of them is the issue of privacy. Within the network, privacy loses its value, virtually all aspects of life, even the most intimate, often become public.
By becoming anonymous, governmental power relations more uncontrollably invade the lives of not only individuals but also of entire nations, eroding and undermining the mechanisms that guarantee the legitimate personal rights of individuals and social communities. Many theorists see the appearance of a new type of social movements that are based on the use of global informational networks, as one of the way to address this issue. Examples of such movements are some forms of anti-globalization international non-governmental organizations.
To sum up, we can see that network society is a global network structure with developed horizontal connections that are based on the internet-communication. In addition, in my opinion, not the network structure modifies the society, but the network structure reacts on all the changes of our modern lives and all landmark national and international events and eventually it transforms under their influence.