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Living the Information Revolution: Digital Online Culture, Identity & Schooling in the 21st Century


There is a great debate among scholars on the virtues of digital online culture, yet as people spend more time in cyberspace, little attention is being paid to understanding the forces at play within these contexts as well as their impact on identities. Education is critical to protect and equip the citizenry in this new environment; however, perspectives have not shifted to include meaningful theorizing in how to live the information revolution.

This dissertation draws on the work of scholars across the disciplines of cultural studies, education, communication, and philosophy to provide a cultural, ideological critique of identity construction in the context of virtualization and to draw some conclusions for schooling in light of the analysis. Subsequently, each chapter represents a different facet of the real-virtual and human-machine lines to help deconstruct the ontological distinction between these realms of being. This is accomplished by using a multiperspectival approach employing the theoretical frameworks of constructivist psychology, critical theory, symbolic interactionism, and sociocultural identity theory.

Organized in five chapters, the first initially identifies technological agents of change that have generated shifts in personal identity. The second critically engages the work of Sherry Turkle, a pioneer researcher of digital online culture. The third chapter historicizes identity formation and the cultural transformations that have occurred since the Internet's inception. The fourth unravels neoliberal and high-tech capitalist forms of manufactured consciousness followed by mapping today's new forms of resistance. The fifth and concluding chapter demonstrates how education is implicated in the current hegemonic movement and the role it could play to guide the citizenry through this area of complex interactions.

This dissertation highlights the personal and cultural changes occurring as a result of increasing reliance on online environments. Additionally, it proposes a new perspective on education's role in this evolution and advocates for schooling to take a stance in the face of the current digital, globalized world. This work is intended to benefit educators, social scientists, critical theorists and scholars currently struggling to identify the individual and societal changes underway as it proposes meaningful and original strategies to address contemporary challenges to schooling's normative ideal.

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