Digital technology has vastly broadened and complexiﬁed social life, levelling opportunities for communication and producing a new awareness of the importance of diversity of social relations, as well as of life on the planet. This book explores the ways in which social media, by encouraging human curiosity and sociability in relation to these developments, has highlighted for users their own nature as social beings who have discovered new ways to get along with each other, as well as new challenges. The complexity of networks on social media has created new kinds of conﬂicts, and new ways to mediate older kinds of conﬂicts, that have resulted in a demand for new forms of political participation, thus reinvigorating political activity, without extending the practice of ‘politics as usual’. However, with concerns for the planet in the back- ground, a tendency for elites and ordinary people alike to want to see a political solution to every problem in social life has become an unsustainable and troubling trend. This book argues that enthusiasms for social media can be tempered in a helpful manner through an engagement with studies of social media in relation to understandings of the history of modern social life provided by sources in classical and contemporary sociology and political theory. Social media makes possible new sociable opportunities and multiple publics, but at the same time represents important continuities with modern social life of earlier times, such as the respect in which it works to limit political action within the boundaries of a generalized public, thus constraining demagoguery and challenging the arrogance of elites who seek to impose certain forms of political life.
Engaging with the work of Deleuze, Tarde, Simmel, Lazzarato, Latour, Harman, Heidegger, Arendt, Archer, Wellman, Bergson and others, Social Life and Political Life in the Era of Digital Media advances a new understanding of modernity oﬀered by social media, re-establishing the autonomy of social life over and against political life and re-articulating the relationship between the social and political. As such, it will appeal to scholars of social and political theory and cultural and media studies.