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Keywords:

  • NETWORKS;
  • DISORDER;
  • INFORMATION SOCIETY;
  • CASTELLS

Abstract

Whereas theories of the information society/network society tend to regard networks as generally resilient and adaptable, the articles in this special issue treat disorder as inherently important in social theory and in the analysis of networks. By taking disorder seriously, the contributors recognize that it is something more than a correctable failure or a symptom of decay. This introduction makes five main claims about disorder. First, ordering networks can contain and generate their oppositions and produce what some of those within those networks call disorder. Second, networks of commodification, survival and the making of culture come into conflict. Third, information is necessarily distorted, or blocked, in information capitalism. Fourth, networks are sometimes functional precisely because they are unstable and ambiguous. And, fifth, disorder can be creative and indeed may offer hope of an escape from fatal ordering, but perhaps not into a new order.