Reconciling old and new power: In the era of networks, do institutions still have a role?

We are living through a tectonic shift in power dynamics. With the evolution of digital technology and globalization, people all over the world have access to information and opportunity at an unprecedented scale. Millions of people self-publish on the internet, crowdfund for business start-ups and social causes, and use their own cars and homes to make a living as alternatives to taxis and hotels. Middlemen become irrelevant when, for example, farmers in rural Africa and Asia can access commodity information and consumer markets directly, or digital payment systems enable people to bypass banks. Hierarchical authority has taken a significant hit in the 21st century as flat networks gain more influence.

The promise and potential of a world where power can no longer be monopolized by an elite few is thrilling for the possibilities it creates for greater equality. But what might be lost in the process? In the era of networks, do institutions still have a role to play? Greg Jones at Duke Divinity School has been exploring the potential of Christian social innovation and the questions it surfaces. It has led him to a concept he calls "traditioned innovation," which positions institutions in a significant, if redefined, role in this era. 

Explore Jones's concept and theology of traditioned innovation here

And check out his recent article at Faith and Leadership: Holding Together Networks, Hierarchies and Power