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ClassLiving and Learning in the Digital Age$
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Sonia Livingstone and Julian Sefton-Green

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479884575

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479884575.001.0001

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Living and Learning in the Digital Age

Living and Learning in the Digital Age

(p.20) 1 Living and Learning in the Digital Age

Sonia Livingstone

Julian Sefton-Green

NYU Press

Concepts of connection and disconnection are often claimed but rarely challenged: why is it good to connect - people, places, or ideas? This chapter frames our inquiry in terms of theory. Our starting point is that meaning itself is generated through connection. Identities are relationally constituted. Learning extends across sites and experiences. More than ever before, the networks of connection enmesh us seem both unlimited and inflexible. Yet the claims of the network society—underpinned by digital transformations—are overstated: identities are not infinitely flexible, institutions impose boundaries, privilege reproduces itself, and cultures are rooted in tradition even as they open up to new routes and flows. The chapter builds a framework for understanding both the shifting interrelations among identity, knowledge and power in a digitally networked age and the forces of social reproduction that sustain continuities with previous times. Our original analysis of childhood in the digital age – read through the lens of individualization and the risk society - is helpful in capturing the dilemmas and tensions that young people experience and that adult society projects on them. We acknowledge the critiques of these theories, insofar as they overstate individual agency, undervalue historical continuities, and celebrate the emancipatory potential of late modernity even as they foretell a gloomy vision of our future. We end with the key questions that drive our empirical inquiry.

Keywords:   Connected, Conservative, Connected, Risk society, Individualization, Cultures of childhood, Late modernity, Network society

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