Social Networks and Production of Culture in a Global Environment
Dept. of Journalism and Mass Media Studies Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Greece
Understanding globalization as a complex social phenomenon, this paper takes a different stance from both the cultural imperialism paradigm and the fragmented empiricism of several micro-level approaches of the arts. It is based on the approach of the arts as forms of communication, as systems for the creation, production, dissemination and reception of symbolic forms. In this context, the paper explores several features of globalization that affect both the arts and their sociological approach in numerous noteworthy ways.
These features include the introduction of alternative modes for the production of symbolic forms, associated with the development of digital technologies, the convergence of different forms of communication and the broader changes in communications. They also include the collapse of the barriers in cultural exchanges, the opening of the cultural markets and the increasing importance of the global multimedia conglomerates - developments that entail new regulation problems, concerns about cultural diversity and the freedom of expression, as well as the intensification of the global cultural asymmetries.
It is argued that, nevertheless, these same developments created a new condition, reinforcing the proliferation of social networks and their eventual emergence as an alternative mode for the production of culture. The paper focuses on these peculiarities, supporting that globalization - even in its current, neoliberal form - affected in various, contradictory ways all six facets of the production of culture and created many more possibilities for the study of informal and alternative art worlds that have been hardly explored in the past. The paper holds that in these circumstances it is the responsibility of the sociology of the arts not only to study them, but also to suggest ways for their support and development.
From this point of view, the paper takes also a different stance from both the enthusiastic support and the complete rejection of the market mechanisms in the cultural field, as well as from the Internet Nirvana Theory. Its main argument is that cultural and educational policies are needed to support further democratization of the artistic realm, counterbalancing the forces of an uncontrollable market rather than eliminating it whatsoever.