Viewing Social Media Through a Social Theorist Lens

Social Media allows us to interact with people, not only locally but globally on a sociotechnological level. It allows people to create communities, collaborate and spread info throughout the web. In order to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of Social Media, one must familiarize themselves with social theories, coined by Durkheim, Weber, Tönnies, and Marx.

Émile Durkheim

Durkheim came up with the idea of Social Facts. Social Fact basically states that individual acts in a way that is general in society, which can either be done consciously or subconsciously. In regards to social media, websites/apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. all have a social structure to them.

Weber, on the other hand, is responsible for creating the term Social Action, which basically means people take into account each other’s actions and act accordingly. When it comes to social media people are constantly interacting with one another and interactions differ from each person.

Ferdinand Tönnies

Tönnies declared that community only exists due to the notion of belonging together and dependence of others (Gemeinschaft). This is different from society (Gesellschaft), because in society people may be doing common activities, but it does not include the feelings of togetherness and values(Social Media, A Critical Introduction, Christian Fuchs, 42). By using Tönnies theory on community people can analyze whether or not Social Media falls under Gemeinschaft or Gesellschaft.

Visual representation of Gemeinschaft
Visual representation of Gesellschaft
Karl Marx

The last and final theory that will be discussed is by Karl Marx, which basically claims sociality and humans cannot exist without cooperation because, without the help of other humans, humans would not be able to execute and achieve complex goals. He also believes that cooperation is the foundation of Capitalism and that Capitalism exploits the cooperation of people (Social Media, A Critical Introduction, Christian Fuchs, 43). In terms of Social Media since it is such a vast place were many people cooperate who’s to stop corporations from exploiting this?

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