The Limits of the Digital Revolution
How Mass Media Culture Endures in a Social Media World
by Derek Hrynyshyn
March 2017, 273pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3295-6
$75, £58, 66€, A103
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3296-3
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Is social media really just an advanced means of social control?

This academic analysis explores social media, specifically examining its influence on the cultural, political, and economic organization of our society and the role capitalism plays within its domain.

In this examination of society and technology, author and educator Derek Hrynyshyn explores the ways in which social media shapes popular culture and how social power is expressed within it. He debunks the misperception of the medium as a social equalizer—a theory drawn from the fact that content is created by its users—and compares it to mass media, identifying the capitalist-driven mechanisms that drive both social media and mass media. The work captures his assessment that social media legitimizes the inequities among the social classes rather than challenging them.

The book scrutinizes the difference between social media and mass media, the relationship between technologies and social change, and the role of popular culture in the structure of political and economic power. A careful look at social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google suggests that these tools are systems of surveillance, monitoring everyday activities for the benefit of advertisers and the networks themselves. Topics covered within the book’s 10 detailed chapters include privacy online, freedom of expression, piracy, the digital divide, fragmentation, and social cohesion.


  • Explores the use of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter in revolutionary political action and the effects of "viral" campaigns on political culture
  • Uncovers the truth behind piracy infringements on popular cultural industries
  • Reveals the hidden factors driving the rapid expansion of social media
  • Discusses how capitalism affects the development of social media
  • Examines how social media shares characteristics with and differs from mass media
Derek Hrynyshyn teaches in the Department of Communication Studies at York University, in Toronto, Canada. He holds a doctorate in political theory.


"The promise of sharing and connectivity in our age of screens comes under deep and insightful scrutiny in Derek Hrynyshyn’s powerfully argued book. Technological progress in no way guarantees the progress of humanity and Hrynyshyn shows us that the advances of social media have even coincided with distinctly uncivil movements. This is a critical, bracing, but also hopeful analysis of the new media systems that have become foundational myths in our lives."—Michael Harris, Author of Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World and The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection

"Derek Hrynyshyn has written a book explaining social media that reveals a wisdom beyond the author's years. This is a thoughtful, original, provocative, thorough, and entirely up-to-date examination of the great media revolution in the world today and what it means going forward. It will be required reading for anyone serious about the subject. I give it an unconditional recommendation."—Robert W. McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Coauthor, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy
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