Today'��s Internet as Research Object: Towards Setting a Common Ground for Internet Studies
Dias, Patricia (2011) Today'��s Internet as Research Object: Towards Setting a Common Ground for Internet Studies. pp. 1-26. In: Proceedings of the A DECADE IN INTERNET TIME: OII SYMPOSIUM ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIETY, 21 - 24 September 2011, University of Oxford.
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This paper focuses on the current status of the Internet as the research object of Internet Studies, and addresses the multiplicity and variety of terminology, scientific assumptions, perspectives and approaches that currently characterize this scientific field. This multiplicity and variety is undoubtedly a valuable asset, but it can also be an obstacle to collaboration and scientific debate. Therefore, we argue that a clarification of the research object and the terminology used to describe it is needed in order to set a common ground for researchers to develop their work upon, thus consolidating this scientific field and promoting communication, collaboration and synergy. Firstly, we consider a literature review of the research within Internet Studies as departure point to identify different (and often contradictory) perspectives on the evolution of the Internet and its current status. Next, we take other theoretical models regarding scientific positioning, assumptions and terminology within the social sciences as grounding for an interpretative reflection and theoretical development, from which results our proposal of a theoretical model that organizes the different perspectives on the contemporary internet in four categories. We hope to contribute to the theoretical development and consolidation of Internet Studies by emphasizing similarities and differences between theoretical positions, assumptions and concepts in our model, thus maintaining the richness and diversity of the field while setting a common ground for communication, debate and collaborative research.
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