06 SES 10 JS, Media Literacy and Digital Responsibility
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 06 and NW 16
The purpose of this analytical paper is to critically analyse digital society from the perspective of dilemmatic space. New theoretical perspectives, or concepts in new contexts, often make us reflect on them and relate them to existing knowledge and perspectives. This may make us challenge preconceptions, identify taken for granted assumptions and help us to see new things, raise other kinds of questions and construe new perspectives and ways of understanding, thinking and acting.
As society becomes more digitalised, the pros and cons of the options that this digitalisation gives become increasingly evident. In addition to the positive aspects, such as the rationalisation of production and communication and opportunities for learning, interaction and networking, the challenges of digitalisation and what Deibert & Rohozinski (2010) call “risks through cyberspace” also become more apparent. Thus, increased digitalisation results in a number of challenges and dilemmas for people to deal with. For instance, cybercrimes such as fraud, counterfeiting, defamation, identity theft and cyber bullying, phishing and grooming are examples of activities that people need to be aware of and avoid exposure to (cf. Eden, Heiman & Olenik-Shemesh, 2013; Guarnieri & Przyswa, 2013). In principle, all the ‘digital footprints’ we leave can be traced. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have exposed the extensive surveillance and espionage that national security agencies carry out on citizens while scanning the Internet and collecting digital information. As a consequence, who we have as friends on Facebook or who we follow on Twitter can be investigated and used against us (Huffington Post, 2013). Besides the kinds of ‘negative’ challenges and dilemmas described above, other dilemmas can include how people can best use the range of available technological options at work, for learning, for communication and in identity formation.
The theoretical frame of dilemmatic space offers new ways of making sense of the digital society, and may even provide new perspectives on how to manoeuvre (or not) in a digital society. In their daily lives people regularly encounter smaller or larger challenges or problems that they have to overcome. Sometimes these challenges are not easy to solve, but emerge as dilemmas that, in contrast to a problem, cannot be fully addressed without leaving some kind of reminder (Denicolo, 1996). Thus, dilemmas emerge in situations where no obvious right or wrong way of acting exists, or when one has to choose between two or more unsatisfactory or conflicting options, values, commitments, obligations, loyalties or positions (Billig et al., 1988; Honig, 1996).
Honig (1996) argues that dilemmas should not be regarded as being connected to specific situations or events, but rather as aspects that need to be acknowledged as ever present in people’s living spaces. That is, people always react in relation to what Honig calls ‘dilemmatic spaces’. By adding the relational category of ‘space’ to dilemmas, different (possible) value positions, commitments, obligations, rules and so on are highlighted. In short, it construes and constitutes (possible) positions of dilemmas in a ‘dilemmatic space’ that people have to relate to.
For instance, when comes to the surveillance of the Internet, governments and national security agencies have to find legitimate and acceptable methods of protecting an open and democratic society in a way that is not at odds with freedom of expression and does not jeopardise confidence in the Internet, technology, governmental bodies and corporations. In this, they have to manoeuvre in a dilemmatic space with a complex interplay of juridical, economic, political, technical and relational structures and in relation to different and often conflicting norms, values, actions, positions, relations and powers of stakeholders, citizens and counterparts (cf. Deibert & Rohozinski, 2010).
Billig, M., Condor, S., Edwards, D., Gane, M., Middleton, D., & Radley, A. (1988). Ideological dilemmas. A Social Psychology of Everyday Thinking. London: Sage Publications. Deibert, R. J. & Rohozinski, R. (2010). Risking Security: Policies and Paradoxes of Cyberspace Security. International Political Sociology, 415–32. Denicolo, P. (1996). Productively confronting dilemmas in educational practice and research. In M. Kompf, R. Bond, D. Dworet, T. Boak (Eds.), Changing research and practice: Teachers’ professionalism, identities and knowledge (pp. 56–65). London: Falmer Press Eden, S., Heiman, T. & Olenik-Shemesh, D. (2013). Teachers’ perceptions, beliefs and concerns about cyberbullying. British Journal of Educational Technology 44(6), 1036–1052. Fransson, G.& Grannäs, J. (2013). Dilemmatic Spaces in Educational Contexts - Towards a Conceptual Framework for Dilemmas in Teachers Work. In Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice. 19(1), 4–17. Guarnieri, F. & Przyswa, E. (2013). Counterfeiting and Cybercrime: Stakes and Challenges, The Information Society, 29: 219–226. Honig, B. (1996). Difference, Dilemmas, and the Politics of Home. In S. Benhabib (ed). Democracy and Difference. Contesting the Boundaries of the Political. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (p. 257 – 277). Huffington Post (2013). Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers'. Posted on-line 2013-11-26; updated 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-30 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/nsa-porn-muslims_n_4346128.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular.
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