Communicative nature of information society and the main trends of its social and cultural transformation

In the work we consider the communicative nature of the information society and its influence on the process of sociocultural transformation. The task was to prove the influence of the communicative nature of the information society on the process of sociocultural transformation of the system of personal values. The communicative nature of the information society has a whole range of features — the network principle of function-monitoring and distribution, a virtual character, a short-term, spontaneous, «clip» form of presenting information. Informational and communicative processes are being transformed into an alternative informational and communicative environment, which has an ontological status. Social space is decentralized in the context of its virtualization, social institutions are transformed into hyperspace, and a virtual society is being formed. At present, there is a contradiction in the understanding of the system of values that determines social reality. The transformation of values accommodates both traditional ideas about norms and values, as well as axiological innovations that characterize the current process of reassessing values. Multidimensionality and contradictory interpretations of values, their essential content are characteristic for all generations and ages that form a specific socio-cultural state of society, expressed in the appearance of conflicting normative-value paradigms. This process complicates the adaptive potential of individual, it has a deforming effect on personal development; it turns into an increase in maladaptive potential and identity crisis. Modern man demonstrates the dialectical denial of the previously adopted system of norms and values, creates a new hierarchy of higher values of being and society as a whole. In the era of the information society, a person develops towards the individualization of his own being while reducing communication with the social world, which helps to reduce the role of social adaptation of an individual.

The information society as a social, economic and cultural system has come up to attention of researchers since the 60s of the XX century, when the features of the era paradigm shift have occurred. At the same time, the term «information society» itself was constituted and almost simultaneously introduced into scientific circulation by American and Japanese researchers. The main feature and quality parameter of a new type of society was recognized as the special role of knowledge and technology based on it, dominance of information, acceleration of technological progress, decrease in the share of material production of the total social product, development of the service sector and an increase in the quality of life.

The information space entered by the humanity a few decades ago corresponds to a fundamentally new state of culture. Assessing this state and highlighting its qualitative parameters, researchers strive to establish a correlation between the technological and cultural development of the society. And here two approaches are clearly distinguished: information technological approach highlighting information and methods of its transmission within its limits as the main driving force of progress, and cultural approach, evaluating culture as the primary cause of the society and all its systems development.

So, within the limits of the technological approach, the idea prevails that the technotronic revolution leaves its mark on the character of the figurative perception of reality striving for globality, on the specifics of social life striving for fragmentation, on the peculiarities of the formation of communities rejecting national ideologies and relying on global, or on narrow local meanings and values. In this sense, history can be represented as a specific process of information development, where the content of the economic, social and cultural components is directly related to the nature of the content of communication and the quality of the knowledge circulating in this society.

One of the most developed and popular concepts of technological determinism belongs to M. McLuhan [1; 432], who considers the change of historical epochs in direct dependence to the communication channels alteration. The information age is one of the stages in the development of communication media. Moreover, if the written communication that dominated at the pre-writing stage «localized» space and time, reinforcing alienation, eliminating the involvement of individuals in social processes, then today's electronic systems, delivering information about the environment, «harmonize» human relationships turning the entire planet into the «global village» [2].

Thus, the qualitative difference between the modern stages of communication development is its global nature. The transformation of information and communication into productive force inevitably leads to the transcend of the European social and cultural system and the subordination to the new global management tendencies associated with overcoming national-state borders and cultural and civilizational spaces. At the same time, within the framework of a single social and cultural system, in a rather eclectic combination, various ways of sign fixation of reality can present, each of which corresponds to a certain level of sociality development, cultural, historical and value content. Not all of these information systems correspond to the ideal state in terms of economic efficiency. But it is this combination of technological and other realities that makes up the specifics of each of the cultural worlds, embodying the most effective way of its existence. The qualitative state of such communication systems is conditioned by a number of circumstances, among which the dominant ones are such as the nature of production, type of intercultural relations, features of historical development, and specifics of the social structure.

The Internet as means of communication strengthens both positive and negative trends in the society development intensifying the growth of opposing trends, such as globalization and localization of cultures. The Internet as the basis of the information society can be described as «... a communication mediator that made communication for many people with many others for the first time possible at any time and on a global scale» [3; 62].

Like most social processes, space in the information society is subject to globalization and decentralization. The essence of the globalization process in the context of all spheres of human activity is characterized by the formation of a single global space that includes hidden processes of space fragmentation and individualization of being. In many respects, modern society is structured not only by the standard of living, but also, first of all, by the criterion of access to information resources and possibility of updating information. The information continuum forms a decentered, fragmented space.

The globalization of social space is manifested in the ability of the Internet to compress space and travel long distances in seconds, thereby reducing the dependence of various functions, including job, on being in a particular place. The decentralization of social space is evident in the context of its virtualization, transfer of social institutions into hyperspace and formation of a virtual society. Although, space is not able to become fully interactive, since both society and people are «attached» to a certain place, that is, virtualization of space in a network society is only partially possible and localized by social boundaries [4; 72-80].

Time, like space, in the information society undergoes significant changes due to the development of information technologies, including the Internet, the past and future lose their meaning, time becomes timeless, reversible, and cyclical, its linearity is destroyed. In the traditional society, the course of time was linear: the person communicated through one of the interaction channels, received one message at a time, processed it, and then entered into the next communication. Currently, he has the ability to simultaneously perform multiple communications, since there is a simultaneous broadcast of multiple messages via different communication channels, which makes it necessary to respond as quickly as possible to information flows.

Due to the ultimate compression of the present time, the future loses its social meaning and begins to seem insignificant. Becoming shorter due to the acceleration of social and life processes, the time gap becomes indistinguishable in modes past — present — future; this leads to social disorientation and deformation of the personalized origin. The social actor receives the result of his actions with a speed exceeding the speed of a thought. Time in the Internet environment concentrates to random moments disrupting the temporal sequence of events and de-historicizing the history as such [5; 83-93].

The Internet creates a new social time modality — deferred time. Communication on the Internet takes place in real time, although, each of the interaction subjects has an opportunity to «take a pause», that is, to delay the present, and later to engage in the process again. Besides, the Internet makes it easy to «return to the past». Studying the archives of news feeds or chats, a person gets an opportunity to change it at his discretion. Internet communication allows knowing the future in a specific way. Reading interactive news feeds, a person knows in advance the main content of the evening television news and tomorrow's newspapers and he can «forecast» events of the future limited to the framework of interactivity.

Thus, the nature of communication, features of the dominant sign systems and type of knowledge formalization appear in these concepts as the main determinants of economic development, social organization and culture of society [6].

At the same time, noting the efficiency of this approach, we consider it necessary to emphasize that the dependence of the specific features of this social and cultural system on communication technologies is not one-sided. It seems that it is not information that affects this system (this is true only partially), but, on thecontrary, it itself brings to life those communication technologies that meet its needs. This view was held by M. Weber, who proved that it is not economic relations that determine the type of culture, but the type of religion, i.e. a part of the culture, determines the economic system.

The influence of communication processes on modern society and its institutions partly determines the features of its functioning, and it, in its turn, sets the value and regulatory guidelines and tasks for an individual, determining the method of communication, as well as the quality and volume of socially important information.

The following aspects may be listed among those require for adaptation of an individual to the information society conditions:

The network nature of information culture: anti-hierarchy, non-linearity, semantic and axiological pluralism. Researchers identify the «network» character as the most important feature of the information society.

Value of information. Here, the development of society is increasingly determined by the information potential it has. Information is important for understanding the essence of the new society, because on the one hand, information forms the material environment of human life acting as innovative technologies, computer programs, telecommunication facilities, and on another one, it serves as the main means of interpersonal relationships. In this context, we consider it possible to draw attention to the role of information as a strategic resource for development, as the statutory capital of the society: information, like capital, can be accumulated and stored for future use.

A positive feature of the information is that the exchange of information leads to cooperation. Information, therefore, is a resource that may be shared without regret. Information acts as a source and engine of self-organization of the society.

Since the prospects of the information society are largely related to computerization of all human services and social institutions, it is necessary to clarify the limits of information modeling of human thinking. These limits are related to the operational aspect of thinking. Computer technologies materialize formalized operations of mathematical thinking; in this sense, modern information develops in line with the Cartesian tradition, which considers formal mathematics as a model of thinking. It overlooks the main aspect of thinking, namely the transcendent moment of idea occurrence, the moment of creative inspiration and spiritual enlightenment. The prospects for computerization depend primarily on the value and target attitudes of human society. Therefore, in the information age, the role of philosophy, main task of which since the time of Plato has been constructing ideal norms, goals and values of human life. Fetishization of information technologies is largely due to homologating information and knowledge, bringing down all the wealth of human activity to its operational and pragmatic side, and therefore, denial of the spiritual and axiological aspect of human activity.

Information culture as «clip culture». If we consider the information society culture in terms of its technological properties, then the researchers describe it as a «clip culture», which generates «clip thinking».

Toffler believes that the third «wave» accelerates the innovation pace, it transforms the deep structure of information, and human loses his ability to adequately update this «image database». Hence, disposable consumer goods, disposable art, the desire to avoid long-term contacts, strong emotional ties, and widespread enthusiasm for tourism.

This new type of culture, which Toffler designates as a «clip culture», is based on information «clips»: announcements, teams, snatches of news that cannot be classified. At the same time, consumers of information do not have an opportunity to borrow a ready-made model of reality, but must construct it. Such a way of information consuming forms such unique forms of its perception, as «zapping».

«Future shock» as a result of information redundancy. Desire for constant consumption of information is fully justified, since the quality of socialization is determined precisely by the amount of information received. According to researchers, the world view of a modern human consists of knowledge acquired through his own experience, only for 10–15 %. The main channel for obtaining information, a way of familiarizing with the world and its events, a mediator in shaping culture, as well as the most important factor transforming the entire system of spiritual production, is the means of mass communication creating a kind of information mono world, a special «informational sphere» having globality features as a fundamentally new environment for a modern person. Its distinctive features are its universality and totality of distribution.

The specific quality of the information itself (as opposed to knowledge) is its redundancy and fragmentation. The abundance of information inevitably leads to shallowness, first, of perception, and then perhaps, of thinking. For a person, this state of plurality of meanings, senses, values that belong to different culturalworlds is psychologically complex. A person loses the solid foundations of his life and begins to experience difficulties in defining his own identity. E. Toffler questions the limits of those changes in the social and cultural environment, to which a person can adapt. The author names this state of disadaptation the «future shock».

«Demassification» and «personalization» means the influence of personal factors on the process of developing the information society culture. According to researchers, the main characteristics of the information society culture are associated with the increasing role and importance of a person in the development of the information society as a subject of production and an active subject of history.

In the «super-industrial society», «super-industrial civilization», according to the authors, culture obtains a high level of innovation, acquiring as the main characteristics the demassification and destandardization of all aspects of political and economic life; transformation of labor and interpersonal relationships nature that change the value system and orientation of a person to psychological, social and ethical goals; «personalization», that is, orientation of culture and society to every person, losing at the same time the features of «mass-based individual». This «demassified» culture should be distinguished by a high level of innovation and complexity, which is directly related to the individualization and de-standardization of various aspects of political and economic life.

«Personalization» of culture is conditioned by the emergence of a new intellectual class in the information society; «Its representatives at the political level act as consultants, experts or technocrats» [7; 31].

Thus, the information society is characterized not only by a change in the nature of production, but also, first and foremost, by the transformation of the needs and values of a person.

Human in this new information culture refuses to perceive new modular data in standard structures and categories, and strives to create his own material from mosaic information.

New personality. The communicative space of the information society recognizes the value of personality and identity of a human. The transition from the significance of a person to the significance of personality occurs, «the process of personalization destroys the form of a person» [8; 102] existing in a traditional society.

Virtual reality is perceived by human consciousness as a continuation of the social one, in fact being only a simulacrum of reality, not referring to it. A new personality does not refer to a real person, but forms an image of a «hypertext personality» built on the basis of mastering information through hypertext. Since many processes of social reality in the information society take place within the Internet networks, the emergence of personality that is not related to a real person expands the possibilities for identifying a person and his socialization, but only in the field of Internet communication.

In the era of the Internet, the time has come for the superman, who carries out an independent reassessment of all values, not only social, but also personal.

As the researcher V.V. Tarassenko notes, and we mentioned this earlier, the modern human is a «person who clicks», that is, he lives in the world of cyber reality, in contrast to the «person who reads» from the world of libraries. The specificity of information acquisition becomes the transition to a non-linear design and perception of information. The thought process itself is arranged nonlinearly, and the similarity of hypertext with the structure of thought in terms of nonlinearity allows a person who clicks to more efficiently use time for assimilating information in the communication process. In a network society, due to development of the Internet, a person's opportunities are expanding infinitely, «... legitimizing... the desire for selfaffirmation, bringing down... the flow of images, information, culture, the welfare society led to... radical stratification or de-socialization... The era of consumption, based on meeting the needs and necessity for information, has separated the individual from local environment and stability of everyday life, from immemorial attitudes towards things, towards other people, towards his body and himself» [9; 43–46].

Modern human is cut off from the society; he is immersed in virtual reality and deprived of expressed ideals and clear norms.

The fundamental characteristic of a human is freedom in the widest possible sense of the word. Due to the Internet, everyone has the right for self-realization, freedom to choose information, profession and place of residence, freedom of communication and freedom of thought.

An important characteristic of an individualized society is an indication of the need for individualization, that is, a person does not have to choose whether to become an individual or not. This choice has already been made by the society. The social system itself, being mobile and flexible, gives every person enough freedom to act on his own and take full responsibility for his actions himself. A person can make adjustments to the way of individualization. Moreover, in case of a failure, the society cannot be blamed for thefailed life: each person takes the risks of organizing his own being and determining its meaning and purpose. A modern human is left one-on-one against his problems, tasks and individually forms his living space.

The formation of a new personality makes it possible to understand the personality transformation process as having no end and going on continuously throughout the entire social life of an individual. One of the main components of the personality transformation in the network society is the «conductor» that allows navigating in a large flow of information. Otherwise, a person may not be able to determine the vectors of development of his individuality and, as a result, become an asocial fringe.

As a result of the analysis, the following definition of a new personality was developed. A new personality is defined as an internal qualitative identity of a person based on his social uniqueness and originality of feelings, experiences, emotions, which are hypertext, non-linear, not conditioned by cultural, linguistic and geographical features [10].

Influencing the spatial-temporal characteristics of social communities, the environment of Internet communications creates the basis for the formation of short-lived social groups with different characteristics, whose main task is to achieve, as a rule, a short-term result based on the unity of subjects, which contributes to the development of a new personality.

The state of society allows a person to independently create and adjust life goals and principles, which leads to a reduction in the impact of social norms and rules on the new personality structuring. Left alone with his own rules and regulations, a person drops from the social community and loses his life orientation; therefore, the state of society as a whole is not taken into account by him when drawing up his own life plans. The formation of the deviant behavior of an individual occurs; the person becomes an object of his own influence and, as a result, loses his ability to adequately assess behavior of other people. The process of transformation of personality in the information society has a consequence of social indifference simultaneously with the dissolution of a person as an individual being in a communication environment. Social indifference is also manifested in the fact that in the modern society interest of ordinary citizens decreases in the regard to politics, political component of the society as a whole, political convictions are diminished, a phenomenon of indistinguishability of political goals, objectives and programs of parties at different poles of political life of the society occurs, the scale of everyday citizens participation decreases in political events.

The phenomenon of «timeless time» develops due to the lack of social stability, incessant changes in personality and society, and consists in disappearance of interest in the future — an individualized person does not need to worry about tomorrow, because there is no certainty that the actions taken to design it will be successful and meaningful.

The structure of the social change eliminates person's desire for the future and provokes «to live here and now» without worrying about consequences, both in social and personal terms. Another aspect of «time- less time» is social instability, in the context of which, the contours of the social world, society and the person himself are constantly changing. As a result, he is deprived of the future, because he loses confidence in the future, being in the mode of free choice, he cannot predict the consequences of his decisions, he is not protected from mistakes and is not able to determine whether the planned actions will be successful as the dynamics of social life is so great that does not allow forecasting any consequences. «Uncertainty, fluctuations, lack of control over events, all this causes anxiety. This anxiety represents the price paid for new personal freedoms and new responsibility» [11; 390]. A person is forced to be in a state of continuous anxiety, not being able to adequately assess the situation. As a result, personality freedom is imposed by the society, and a person is often not able to dispose of the freedom obtained, objectifying and refusing it.

It can be assumed that in the era of the information society, a person develops towards the individualization of his own being with a decrease in communication with the social world or with communication minimized to physiological needs. That is, the evolution of virtual communication will help to reduce the role of social adaptation and self-identification. The formation of social classes and strata in the network society is conditional and virtual in nature; a person has an opportunity not to be, but only to appear as a member of any social group. The development of the social roles individualization process can be traced in many spheres of human life, including in various ways and opportunities to receive education, working conditions, etc.

The transformation of individuality is associated with the process of social stratification (the structuring of social inequality in the society among different social communities, groups or strata of people). The constitution of the new personality is based on the emancipation of a person from a given social role, which in traditional society was prescribed, inherited and innate». Individualization consists in transforming human identity from «entity» into a «task» and providing actors with responsibility for solving this task, as well asfor the consequences (including side effects) of fulfilling their roles; in other words, it consists in establishing the autonomy of an individual...» [11; 27]. A person is forced to take full responsibility for the risks arising in the specified context: due to the development of the Internet and social mobility, the predetermination of the social status of a particular person is replaced by forced and mandatory self-determination of each individual. The main problem of a person becomes the problem of forming the new personality imposed by society: «... the problem... is not so much in how to acquire the chosen identity and make others recognize it, but rather in how to choose the identity and how to cope with another choice in time if the previously selected identity loses its value or loses its seductive features» [11; 31]. A person is forced to be constantly in a state of choice and self-determination, forming his own personality not on the basis of social norms and rules, but often contrary to them, representing the singularity and completeness of a set of social characteristics. The social role and status of such a person are also formed by the individual independently, that is, the main development tendency for human personality is the singularity of social role of the individual and his structural independence from social prerequisites.

As a result of the personality transformation, a person begins to perceive his own life as a set of unrelated episodes, that is, a system of fragments that do not represent unity and integrity. Uncertainty in the future generated by social mobility structures living space as a set of disparate elements that are united neither structurally nor logically. Interactivity in the structure of the new personality conflicts with the egoistic component of personality, leading ultimately to intrapersonal conflict that can be resolved by refusal either towards the interactive component or towards the egoistic beginning. Since the formation of the new personality occurs outside the cultural and state borders, the transformed personality becomes changeable and labile. The transformation of the essential features of personality is carried out in the following directions: freedom is transformed into the admissibility of deviant behavior, activity turns into enhanced identification capabilities; creativity is transformed into an independent definition of the meaning of life; isolation — in extrasociality, narcissism; integrity is reformed into fragmentation; originality is transformed into the prevalence of the ideals of a particular person without correlation with the ways of developing such ideals, uniqueness becomes nonlinearity and incompleteness of the personality structure [10; 56].

The essential characteristics of the new personality have both positive and negative connotations:

  • – the positive ones include the possibility of independent choice of the meaning and purpose of life, extended ways of identification;
  • – the negative ones include the admissibility of deviant behavior, lack of clear social norms, formation of an extra-social person;
  • – ambivalent characteristics are the presence of the egoistic component in the structure of personality, development of neonarcissism.

Summarizing the above, we can conclude that the new social structure (information society) is characterized by a high level of social organization complexity, intensification of cultural ties and exchanges, growth of cultural diversity, departure from unification prevailing in the era of mass industrial society, and formation of a person with critical thinking and the desire to realize their creative potential. The peculiarity of this period consists in the supremacy of individual beginning over the universal, psychology over ideology, connections over politicization, diversity over similarity, permissive over compulsory [11; 35].

Thus, new life forms generated by the information society formulate the challenges of modern social theory. Modern social theory is an accented analysis of existing forms of social life, the voluminous phenomenology of everyday life. Building of a new social image makes researchers turn to the methodological arsenal of sociocultural analysis of the information society, based on which it is possible to understand and describe the following phenomena: social and cultural relations in the information society, social and cultural processes in the information society, social and cultural communities arising in the information and communication space

The study of the information society is a multidisciplinary field of study, and the sociocultural analysis is designed to answer its fundamental questions: in what direction and with what purpose does the current social situation develop and what is the axiological component of this process. The synthesizing character of the sociocultural analysis of the information society sets the vector for forecasting its further development, search for new normative concepts suggesting the possibility of localizing this process in a socially desirable way, while avoiding both excessive optimism and extreme pessimism.

The main thesis of the social and cultural approach focuses a certain human motivation in the field of culture that can be viewed as a meta-text, in which society is incorporated. In this regard, the mode of sustainable social and cultural values can be defined as an information and communicative phenomenon that hasnetwork channels of direct, reverse, and horizontal connections with a high bandwidth of information exchange between the society and the core accumulating and transmitting traditional values of the society at various stages of history and modernity, overlapping channels penetration of new social and cultural values in traditional societies.



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Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: History