Surprise | There is no such thing as economized societies

Roth, S. (2014), Fashionable functions. A Google ngram view of trends in functional differentiation (1800-2000)International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction, Vol. 10 No. 2, 34-58  [FNEGE, CNRS].

ABSTRACT

Computer communication is revolutionizing modern society to the same extend as the invention of writing or the printing press have unsettled the archaic or the ancient society, respectively. In the present article, this idea will be exemplified by a demonstration of how the Google Ngram viewer – an online graphing tool which charts annual counts of words or sentences as found in the largest available corpus of digitalized books – allows for checks and challenges of familiar self-definitions of modern society. As functional differentiation is considered the central unique feature of modern societies, the hypotheses focus on the testing of prominent modern trend statements and predictions, such as the secularization, politicization, economization, and mediatization of society. All hypotheses are tested through a comparative analysis of word frequency time-series plots produced by means of the Google Ngram Viewer. The results show that the importance of individual function systems to society features signifcant change in time and considerable regional differences. Furthermore, the findings suggest adopting a skeptical position on some of the most frequent common senses of trends in functional differentiation and corresponding self-definitions of society.

Keywords: Culturomics, Economization, Function Systems, Functional Differentiation, Google Ngram, Mediatization, Politicization, Secularization, Social Systems

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s