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Schirmacher, W. (2007). Net Culture. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(1):141-149.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1):141-149

Net Culture

Wolfgang Schirmacher, Ph.D.

Culture between Conformity and Resistance

The human individual is a cultural being that with the aid of linguistic symbols creates a world not provided for by nature. We are “artificial by nature,” as the philosophical anthropologist Hellmuth Plessner (1970) emphasized, and our cultural achievement consists in technological ingenuity, in the constructs of institutions; it reveals itself ideally in media and art. With culture we create a human sphere and establish realms of private and public encounter. In the last few years a cultural phenomenon has developed with the Internet which seeks its equal in history in its intellectual consequence and incomparable power to generate and foster communal belonging. Not even in their golden ages did the world religions possess such global force of attraction, allowing a world culture to hold sway and rendering regional differences obsolete. In the Internet, cultural imagination meets with the material conditions of many varied societies and transcends them. The long dominant difference between public and private spheres has been suspended, and the Internet has become the universal venue of encounter. The functioning of society at a very basic level is affected here, a level that usually escapes our attention. The cultural change effected through the new media cannot be overestimated, but it is yet uncertain where it will lead.


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