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Digital World by Gillian Youngs

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9 The Fifth Estate of the digital world

William H. Dutton and Elizabeth Dubois

 

Introduction: the Fifth Estate in theory and practice

This chapter1 introduces the concept of a Fifth Estate – a new organizational form enabled by the Internet and related digital media (Dutton 2007, 2009). This concept captures a key dynamic of the digital world, where individuals can source information, independent of any single institution. They can also create or join groups of their choosing, independent of their locale. Such capabilities can empower networked individuals in speaking with other sources of authority, whether a teacher, government official or physician. At times, networked individuals can hold other institutions more accountable, challenging ...

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