Are we becoming gadgets? Social capital in the era of social networking

21 January 2015

Social capital is partially predicated on the levels of trust obtaining between institutions and between members of society. As such it is a vital ingredient in the ‘glue’ which holds society together and which facilitates contractual economic activity. Recent technological advances, and the concomitant ascendancy of social networking, have radically reconfigured the environment in which social capital is generated, and the social sciences have some way to go fully to digest these new developments. This article surveys the meteoric rise of the ‘technium’ in the social imaginary and delineates some of the reservations current commentators have about the next ‘singularity’ to succeed the Internet. The discussion includes a brief account of the philosophy behind the objectification of the human. It also speculates about the consequences of paradigm shifts in modes of relating for the formation of social capital in the future.