Disintermediation and/or Neointermediation? The “Fourth Power” of Small and Large Intermediaries in Digital Public Sphere
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University of Udine
Submission date: 2020-06-03
Acceptance date: 2022-10-18
Publication date: 2023-06-28
Polish Sociological Review 2023;222(2):249–262
The concept of “disintermediation” is one of the instruments used to interpret recent developments in politics and communication, especially in digital media. Our thesis is that the concept of “disintermediation” can be considered from two different perspectives. On the one hand, it can be interpreted in the strict historically established sense. On this basis it may be argued that the internet has contributed to “disintermediate” traditional intermediaries, surpassing in part the traditional intermediaries of the twentieth century (such as journalists). On the other, “disintermediation” can be seen in broader, etymological, absolute and non-relative terms. In this sense, the concept of “disintermediation” is no longer appropriate and consequently, based on experimental results and a theoretical analysis of small and large digital intermediaries, we shall propose the concept of “neointermediation.” This article presents the characteristics of neointermediaries, which are concentrating more and more power and are of two sizes: small and large.