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Please read the following and answer the questions. Must be at least 250 words. Excluded Standpoints, Alternative Knowledges Introductory Essay: Webs...

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Please read the following and answer the questions. Must be at least 250 words. Excluded Standpoints, Alternative Knowledges Introductory Essay: Webs of Knowledge in the Digital Divide The commercially available Internet of the early 1990s carried with it a promise that technological barriers would no longer impede the flow of information. Citizens could get the information they needed to make effective democratic choices, get better jobs, and improve their overall wellbeing. This is to say, the Internet shifted the paradigm for how we think about media, technology, and knowledge itself, offering instantaneous access to real-time events from almost every perspective imaginable. Indeed, it didn't merely open new doors to information—it tore the old ones from their hinges, set them ablaze, and scattered the ashes into the great expanse of the worldwide web. Or so we thought. Not long after the Internet was introduced, scholars and policymakers grew concerned about the truth of its great egalitarian promise. Early evidence of a so-called “digital divide” meant that although the Internet offered a faster, flashier vehicle of communication, not everyone would be able to take the ride. According to research conducted in the late 1990s by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, early Internet users in the United States tended to be younger, more educated, and wealthier than non-users. Internet use also varied a lot by race, with Asian Americans and non-Hispanic whites going online more often than other groups. Many of these gaps remain today, even as connectivity continues to spread. A 2009 report by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, for instance, found that 65 percent of white Americans had broadband access at home in 2009, compared to only 46 percent of African Americans. And, like the Internet itself, the digital divide has gone global—the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nations reported that there were more than 8 times as many Internet users in the United States as on the entire continent of Africa in 2004. But the “digital divide” is more than just a gap in access to knowledge found on the Internet— maybe even more importantly, the divide affects how that knowledge gets produced in the first place. Sociologists Eszter Hargittai and Gina Walejko have found that a “participation gap” lurks within the cracks and crevices of the digital divide. 1 They argue that the creative content produced and uploaded to the Internet by young people is determined more by their socioeconomic status than the new opportunities that the Internet provides. Rather than leveling the playing field, the Internet might simply reproduce it. Findings like this have interesting, and troublesome, implications for the flow of information online. The Internet provides access to seemingly endless amounts of knowledge, but what would that knowledge look like if everyone had a hand in its creation?
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Think back for a moment to Durkheim's definition of a social fact. Social facts are social constructions that confront us as if they are an external reality separate from any sort of origin. What we know about that external reality is what we might call an ontological understanding— knowledge of what is in the social world. But, if we delve into how that understanding of “what is” is constructed, or, more simply, how we know what we know about social reality, then we are looking at knowledge from the standpoint of epistemology. When we look at a social fact from an epistemological perspective, then our ontology – the “what is”—of what we know gets challenged. A bit disarmingly, by examining how we know what we know, we can begin to question everything we knew in the first place. The theorists in this section grapple with this issue from perspectives that were excluded when the canon of social theory was being constructed. Incorporating race and gender into social theory is more than simply getting a perspective on society that is attuned to difference. Rather, it is about questioning whether a theory of society is legitimate at all if the categories used to construct it exclude particular times, places, and standpoints. Like the Internet, social theory is a vast intellectual landscape in which conventional wisdom often gets spun like a top. Yet, also like the Internet, it has historically been an uneven landscape —the top gets spun in some directions but not others. If the map of social theory is incomplete because some voices were excluded when it was drafted, then these theorists forcefully argue that it's time to draft a new one or, perhaps more accurately, many new ones. Classical Connections: W.E.B. Du Bois and Simone De Beauvoir The term “paradigm shift” was coined by philosopher and physicist Thomas Kuhn to capture the moment when mysteries that cannot be explained by one scientific worldview lead to the revolutionary creation of a new one. It is a bit misleading to say that the theorists in this section shifted the paradigm of social theory, though, because each of them questioned whether a singular paradigm should exist in the first place. In fact, each of these theorists found themselves stuck between a paradigm consisting of concepts, theories, and taken-for-granted abstractions and a lived experience that did not fit within that paradigm, a lived experience shaped by oppression, subjugation, and exclusion. This feeling of being stuck in the middle is vividly expressed in the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, a profound social theorist and public intellectual who has only recently received recognition on the level of the other classical theorists in this volume. In The Souls of Black Folk , Du Bois draws from history, sociology, literature, and black spirituals to capture what it was like to live as a black person in early twentieth century America. Perhaps what is most striking in his writing is how he brings himself front and center, turning his own experience into a microcosm of a bigger social process. In this way, Du Bois artfully conveys how the social structures of racism interact with its intersubjective and psychological dimensions. Like Weber, Du Bois was struck by the paradoxical conundrums of modernity, particularly the persistence of segregation in American society despite the freeing of slaves decades earlier. According to Du Bois, segregation persisted into the twentieth century not just through institutions like housing, education, or labor, but also through the cultural legacy of racism—that is, the stereotypes and assumptions about skin color that seeped deep into the public imagination
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Running Head: SOCIAL THEORIES 1 Social Theories
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Institution SOCIAL THEORIES 2 Social Theories
Sociological interpretation of “how we know and what we know”
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