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The Network Society

The Network Society

Third Edition

July 2012 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The Network Society is now more than ever the essential guide to the past, consequences and future of digital communication.

Fully revised, this Third Edition covers crucial new issues and updates:

  • The long history of social media and Web 2.0: why it's not as new as we think
  • Digital youth culture as a foreshadow of future new media use
  • The struggle for control of the internet among Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook
  • The contribution of media networks to the current financial crisis
  • Complete update of the literature on the facts, theories, trends and technologies of the internet
  • New features for students with boxes of chapter questions, conclusions and boxed explanations of key concepts

This book remains an accessible, comprehensive, must-read introduction to how new media function in contemporary society.

Chapter 1. Introduction
A New Infrastructure for Society

A Second Communications Revolution?

Characteristics of the New Media

Communication Capacities of the New Media

The Nature and Design of the Book

Chapter 2. Networks: The Nervous System of Society
What is a Network Society?

A Short History of the Human Web

Networks at All Levels

Causes of the Rise of Networks

The Seven 'Laws' of the Web

From Mass Society to Network Society

Chapter 3. Technology
Technical Foundations of the Network Society

Current Technical Trends

Chapter 4. Economy
Causes of the Current Communications Revolution

A Flow Economy

Enterprise 2.0

Markets, Hierarchies and Networks

Characteristics of a Network Economy

The Producers: From Infrastructure to Service Providers

The Consumers: The Pushers and Pulled

Chapter 5. Politics and Power
The Vulnerability of Networks

Network Politics

The Internet: A Tool for Democracy?


Power in the Organization

Privacy and Personal Autonomy

Chapter 6. Law
The Law Undermined by Networks

Who Rules the Internet?

Information and Communication Freedom

Intellectual Property Rights

The Right to Privacy

Chapter 7. Social Structure
Space and Time in the Network Society

The Blurring Spheres of Living

The Rise of the Social Media

Unity and Fragmentation: A New Social Cohesion

Networks and Social (In)Equality

The Digital Divide

The Instability of the Network Society

Chapter 8. Culture
What Is Digital Culture?

Characteristics of Digital Culture

The Quantity and Quality of New Media Content

Digital Youth Culture: Foreshadow of the Future?

Trends in New Media Use

Chapter 9. Psychology
Perception and the New Media

Cognition and the New Media

Learning with the New Media

The Social Psychology of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)

Changes in Human Personality?

Chapter 10. Conclusions and Policy Perspectives
General Conclusions

The Network Society in North America, Europe, East Asia and the Third World

Policy Perspectives for the Network Society


If you want to understand or teach the complex, interdisciplinary, and intriguing foundations for and social implications about one of the most significant social and technical transformations in communication history, this is the book. It is wide-ranging, integrative, literate, comprehensive, theoretical and practical, sometimes contrarian, thoughtful, encyclopedic, and moral
Ronald E. Rice
Arthur N. Rupe Professor in the Social Effects of Mass Communication, University of California Santa Barbara

This new edition provides deep interdisciplinary insight into the significance of new media in our lives. It outlines why we need to understand the frictions between increasingly intelligent machines and the desires of human beings. It does so with great clarity, providing a very valuable measured and critical assessment of the process of becoming a network society
Professor Robin Mansell
London School of Economics and Political Science

Jan Van Dijk draws from multiple theoretical perspectives to characterize historical trends across many sectors of network societies. His conclusion - that the Internet and related new media amplify rather than transform an array of global trends - will inform and stimulate debate about the implications of the communication revolution. The Network Society would be an excellent text for courses on the social role of the Internet and related new media
William H. Dutton
Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

The core concept in this book is network 2.0. In a network 2.0 age, the Internet becomes a key channel for social networking. This book truly recognizes societal changes made by technical improvement in digital media. Each chapter is written in a clear and succinct way. It is strongly recommended as a requirement text for both researchers and policy-makers
Han Woo Park
Department of Media & Communication, YeungNam University, South Korea

An excellent, thought provoking and informative account.

Mr David Ness
Social Science, Moray College UHI
December 16, 2014

Although this book is quite interesting to read and very complet I miss the suggestion of some exercises or brainstorming act ivies.
Nevertheless, it gives a very good insight about the network society and it will be suggested to students as optional further reading.

Professor Célia Tavares
GAIE, Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto
August 24, 2014

Fully revised, this Third Edition is a brilliant, thought-provoking, intelligent and highly illuminating book about new media. The Network Society is a basic text for general readers, students, and scholars of new media from different fields. It is an essential reading for anyone who is interested in understanding the widespread impact of the Internet. Van Dijk discusses foremost new issues and updates, including psychology of the Internet and characteristics of the information and network economy. This book covers a wide ranging approach to network society and social media.

Dr Sermin Tag Kalafatoglu
Department of Cinema and Television, Ordu University
June 6, 2014

On the list for our Virtual World module, very useful for its breadth, thoroughness and attention to the range of approaches

Mr Anthony Randall
Media & Performing Arts (Lancaster), University of Cumbria
February 13, 2014

Excellent and seminal text providing students with broad overview of different aspects of the development of 'network society'. A must read for any student interested in the digital revolution and its global reach - socially, economically, politically.

Ms Sue Mew
School of Health & Social Science, Middlesex University
October 4, 2013

MG3020/MG6308 essential readling for marketing communications and social media marketing course. Very informative interesetting text.

Ms Carol Kelleher
Marketing , University College Cork
August 7, 2013

va Dijk offers a good dsicussion and analysis of key aspects of the network society thesis with some good insights. Clear and accesible

Dr Andrzej Zieleniec
Sociology , Keele University
June 27, 2013

The network society affects us all every day yet few of us have the depth of understanding that this text presents us with. It is not just about the history of social media or who owns what, it gives a much broader picture of the ways in which networks affect life globally in terms of technology, economics, the law and politics as well as culturally, socially and psychologically. By drawing on various theoretical perspectives, it gives an all-round view of the subject, making it useful for students from a multitude of backgrounds.

Miss Angela Birchall
School of Media, Music & Performance, Salford University
June 19, 2013

The book offers a great overview of potential consequences once networks become increasingly dominant forms of social organisation.

Mr Andreas Jungherr
Political Science, University of Bamberg
June 11, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

For instructors