Internet studies

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Internet studies is an interdisciplinary field studying the social, psychological, political, technical, cultural and other dimensions of the Internet and associated information and communication technologies.[1][2][3] The human aspects of the Internet are a subject of focus in this field. While that may be facilitated by the underlying technology of the Internet, the focus of study is often less on the technology itself than on the social circumstances that technology creates or influences.[2]

While studies of the Internet are now widespread across academic disciplines, there is a growing collaboration among these investigations. In recent years, Internet studies have become institutionalized as courses of study at several institutions of higher learning. Cognates are found in departments of a number of other names, including departments of "Internet and Society", "virtual society", "digital culture", "new media" or "convergent media", various "iSchools", or programs like "Media in Transition" at MIT.[4] On the research side, Internet studies intersects with studies of cyberculture, human–computer interaction, and science and technology studies.

Internet and society is a research field that addresses the interrelationship of Internet and society, i.e. how society has changed the Internet and how the Internet has changed society.[5]

The topic of social issues relating to Internet has become notable since the rise of the World Wide Web, which can be observed from the fact that journals and newspapers run many stories on topics such as cyberlove, cyberhate, Web 2.0, cybercrime, cyberpolitics, Internet economy, etc. As most of the scientific monographs that have considered Internet and society in their book titles are social theoretical in nature, Internet and society can be considered as a primarily social theoretical research approach of Internet studies.[original research?][citation needed]

Topics of study[edit]

In recent years, Internet studies have become institutionalized as courses of study, and even separate departments, at many institutions of higher learning.[6][7]

Disciplines that contribute to Internet studies include:

Key journals[edit]

A number of academic journals are central to communicating research in the field, including Bad Subjects, Convergence, CTheory, Cyber Psychology & Behaviour, Computers in Human Behavior,[13] First Monday, Information, Communication & Society,[14] The Information Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,[14] M/C Journal, New Media & Society,[14] Social Science Computer Review,[15] tripleC, Fibreculture Journal,[16] and TeknoKultura.[17] However, research relating to internet studies appears in a diverse range of venues and disciplines.


Barry Wellman argues that Internet studies may find its beginnings with the 1978 publication of The Network Nation, and was largely dominated by computer scientists, presenting at venues like the annual CSCW conference.[18][19] These were quickly joined by researchers in business fields and library and information science.[20] By the late 1990s, more attention was being paid to systematic investigation of users and how they made use of the new technologies.[21]

During the 1990s, the rapid diffusion of Internet access began to attract more attention from a number of social science and humanities disciplines, including the field of communication.[22] Some of these investigations, like the Pew Internet & American Life project[23][24] and the World Internet Project[25][24] framed the research in terms of traditional social science approaches, with a focus less on the technology than on those who use them. But the focus remained at the aggregate level. In the UK, the ESRC Programme on Information and Communications Technologies (1986–1996)[26] laid considerable ground work on how society and ICTs interact, bringing together important clusters of scholars from media and communications, society, innovation, law, policy and industry across leading UK universities.

In 1996, this interest was expressed in other ways as well. Georgetown University began offering a related master's program in that year, and at the University of Maryland, David Silver created the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies[27] on the web. Middlebury College developed Politics of Virtual Realities, one of the first undergraduate courses dedicated to exploring the political, legal and normative implications of the Internet for liberal democracy.[28] By 2001, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that "Internet studies" was emerging as a discipline in its own right, as suggested by the first undergraduate program in the area, offered at Brandeis University, and noted that "perhaps the most telling sign of the field's momentum" was the popularity of the annual conference created by the then nascent Association of Internet Researchers.[29]

Scholarly organizations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dutton et al. 2013, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 1–2, 12.
  3. ^ a b c Brügger, Niels (2012). "When the Present Web is Later the Past: Web Historiography, Digital History, and Internet Studies". Historical Social Research. 37 (4 (142)): 102–117. ISSN 0172-6404. JSTOR 41756477. Archived from the original on 2022-09-11. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  4. ^ Silver, David (2004). "Internet/cyberculture/digital culture/new media/fill-in-the-blank studies". New Media & Society. 6 (1): 55–64. doi:10.1177/1461444804039915. S2CID 32041186. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01.
  5. ^ Sagástegui, Diana (September 2005). "La apropiación social de la tecnología. Un enfoque sociocultural del conocimiento" (PDF). Razón y Palabra. 49: 1–18. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  6. ^ Hunsinger, Jeremy; Allen, Matthew M.; Klastrup, Lisbeth, eds. (2019). "Chapters 17–18". Second International Handbook of Internet Research. Springer. pp. 281–335. doi:10.1007/978-94-024-1555-1. ISBN 978-94-024-1553-7. OCLC 1110828931.
  7. ^ Samuel, Alexandra (August 9, 2016). "A Novel Defense of the Internet". JSTOR Daily. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022. Departments of Internet Studies have now been established at a number of universities, and the field has its own handbook and research association.
  8. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 1—4, 11, 18—19, 88, 93, 117—122.
  9. ^ Tsatsou, Panayiota (2014). Internet Studies: Past, Present and Future Directions. Routledge. pp. 142–145. ISBN 978-1-4094-4642-2. OCLC 890213173.
  10. ^ a b Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 12—13, 24—42.
  11. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 111—115, 304, 332—347.
  12. ^ Dutton et al. 2013, p. 401–437.
  13. ^ "Computers in Human Behavior". Elsevier. Archived from the original on 2019-04-14. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
  14. ^ a b c Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 2.
  15. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 21.
  16. ^ "The Fibreculture Journal". Archived from the original on 2019-05-12. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  17. ^ "Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales" [TechnoKultura. Magazine of Digital Culture and Social Movements]. Universidad Complutense de Madrid (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2019-05-15. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  18. ^ Wellman, Barry (2004). "The three ages of internet studies: ten, five and zero years ago". New Media & Society. 6 (1): 123–129. doi:10.1177/1461444804040633. S2CID 31491225. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01.
  19. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 17.
  20. ^ Rice, Ronald E. (2005). "New media/internet research topics of the Association of Internet Researchers". The Information Society. 21 (4): 285–299. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/01972240500189232. S2CID 32711286. Archived from the original on 2022-09-11. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  21. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 1, 19—20.
  22. ^ Newhagen, John E.; Rafaeli, Sheizaf (1996). "Why communication researchers should study the internet: a dialog". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 1 (4). Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  23. ^ "Internet & Technology". Pew Research Center. 8 October 2015. Archived from the original on 11 September 2022. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  24. ^ a b Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 19—20.
  25. ^ World Internet Project. "World Internet Project". Archived from the original on 2021-03-28. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  26. ^ Robin Manse. "Information and Communication Technology Policy Research in the United Kingdom: A Perspective". Archived from the original on February 9, 2022. Retrieved September 11, 2022.
  27. ^ "RCCS: Welcome". Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  28. ^ "PSCI0307A-S11". Middlebury College. Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  29. ^ McLemee, Scott (30 March 2001). "Internet Studies 1.0: a Discipline Is Born". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Vol. 47, no. 29. p. A24. Archived from the original on 10 September 2022. Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  30. ^ Consalvo et al. 2011, p. 12.


Further reading[edit]