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Power and cooperation

Introduction in power and cooperation

Published on 05 Jul 2019

Digital technologies are transforming our daily lives, the way we communicate, learn, read, shop, work and do business. And this digital transformation is also having a fundamental impact: It is effecting the foundations of our relationships - public, political, structural, and intersubjective, that is, what turns many individuals into a society.

Questions of power have been reconsidered everywhere, a process that will continue. In view of a "sea of data", familiar forms "are floundering", borders seem to "dissolve", the "aggregate state of society" seems to be in flux - in the past "liquid democracy" was discussed as a possible answer. In the meantime, it has become ever clearer what digital transformation is all about: a complex and far-reaching shift in power structures. Whether we are talking about the state and civil society, producers and consumers, politics and media, hierarchies in educational or working contexts, states or companies among themselves, people and machines, even the individual and the self. This raises fundamental questions: What is power actually? What distinguishes power from hegemony? Which institutions can make power productive and contain it? Do our "checks and balances" still fit politics, society, the economy and work? Or do they need to be updated and realigned? How do we personally deal with power? And what does it do to us and our individual relationships?

There is a new awareness of power. It can draw on comprehensive analyses from past centuries. Especially in the 20th century, the productive sides of power were comprehensively described. Anthropological cooperation research, a field that is still new, has provided a fresh way of looking at this issue. According to its findings, the ability to cooperate is the main factor in the success of our species. The digital world seems to favour this ability - for better or for worse. New movements and organisational forms that organise themselves digitally are becoming increasingly important and thus powerful - which raises entirely new questions.