ryan-notification-norms

ryan-notification-norms - Volume 24 Number 3 September 2006...

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Volume 24 Number 3 September 2006 PUBLISHED BY BLACKWELL PUBLISHING FOR THE AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION Sociological Theory Marc Scheiberg and Elisabeth S. Clemens The Typical Tools for the Job: Research Strategies in Institutional Analysis . ............................ 195 Dan Ryan Getting the Word Out: Notes on the Social Organization of Notification .................................... 228 Marc Garcelon Trajectories of Institutional Disintegration in Late-Soviet Russia and Contemporary Iraq . ............................................................................................................. 255
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Getting the Word Out: Notes on the Social Organization of Notification* D AN R YAN Mills College Even when the timing, sequence, and manner of notification are instrumentally in- consequential, how one conveys information affects the meaning of the telling. This article introduces the concepts of “notification norms” and the “information order,” showing how the former constrain the behavior of nodes in social networks as well as enabling manipulation of the relationships that comprise those networks. “Noti- fication” is defined as information transmission motivated by role obligations and notification norms as social rules that govern such transmission. These rules produce patterns of information dissemination different from what individual volition would yield and from what technology makes possible. The capacity to wield a socially sanctioned repertoire of notification rules is a learned competence. Competent no- tifiers must also understand the local epistemological ecology—the distribution and trajectory of information, as well as the projects, concerns, and priorities of one’s fellows. This study of notification introduces the broader concept of “the information order” and is a first step in the project of a sociology of information. INTRODUCTION: INFORMATION HANDLING AS A SOCIAL BEHAVIOR Wireless Internet devices, pagers, cell-phones with cameras, and text messaging greatly simplify the tasks of “letting people know,” “keeping in touch,” and “getting the word out.” Technology, we are frequently told, “changes everything”: by eliminating spatial barriers to information flow, it promises a future in which no one is left “in the dark,” “out of the loop,” or “stranded with news but no one to tell,” a future in which the world becomes a global village “where everything happens to everyone at the same time: everyone knows about, and therefore participates in, everything that is happening the minute it happens” (Carpenter and McLuhan 1960). Indicators abound. Telecommunication allows primary relations to stretch over great distances (Wellman 1979) and rumors and “urban myths” to circulate worldwide (U.S. Department of Energy 2003). Contemporary activists can mobilize “smart mobs” at
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2010 for the course SOA 101 taught by Professor Klein during the Spring '08 term at Northeastern.

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ryan-notification-norms - Volume 24 Number 3 September 2006...

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