According to sociologist Manuel Castells, the paramount form of power in our complex “network society“ is the power to constitute networks. That is, the power to connect or exclude individuals and institutions to these networks, and to interconnect different networks. In a reflection about such understanding of power, prof. Fritjot Capra explores how power in social networks is not power as domination, but rather as empowerment.
This has left me wondering. How can empowerment be manifested in social complex systems, where supposedly there is no “leadership as usual”? And how does it derive from power in this context?
Maybe I can get some new perspectives here =)
What do you think of the power of users who has millions of followers? Is that “leadership as usual”? Is that “empowerment”?
I’m not sure how much power these users actually have. They are special nodes who can propagate information in specific ways in the networks, but I think that they power will depend on the design of such a network. And such a design could then yes empower these users. For instance, when you can get financial rewards for good content put and circulated through the network, like with Steem.it
This is a great example of network power – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1116
Theoretical models of critical mass have shown how minority groups can initiate social change dynamics in the emergence of new social conventions. Here, we study an artificial system of social conventions in which human subjects interact to establish a new coordination equilibrium. The findings provide direct empirical demonstration of the existence of a tipping point in the dynamics of changing social conventions. When minority groups reached the critical mass—that is, the critical group size for initiating social change—they were consistently able to overturn the established behavior. The size of the required critical mass is expected to vary based on theoretically identifiable features of a social setting. Our results show that the theoretically predicted dynamics of critical mass do in fact emerge as expected within an empirical system of social coordination.