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Tanja Carstensen

In the course of sociological research about the Internet, an accompanying range of new methodological approaches have been developed to investigate usage, communication, processes of appropriation, and the virtuality of the Internet. However, the exploration of the Internet as a technological and material object as well as the question of how it is involved in human practices are seen more rarely. This paper presents a methodology of software-based recording and an analysis of the interactions between humans and the Internet, which are visible on the screen. Adding methods of usability and market research to sociological Internet research, this enables us to “move closer” to the technology and to get a detailed view of human practices and Internet “actions” on the interface; therewith, it will be possible to investigate how social practices proceed when Internet technologies are involved, how users handle the Internet and to what extent it enables, facilitates, limits, or hinders practices.

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“Recognize the Spies”

Transparency and Political Power in Uzbek Cyberspace

Sarah Kendzior

This article uses the example of Uzbekistan's national security services to consider how the psychic influence of a police state reveals itself online. What happens when the 'spectral double' of the police becomes a point of focus in a medium known for its transparency? I argue that although the Internet gives citizens the capability to organize and interact, it does not relieve their fears and suspicions; instead, it often intensifies them. Despite the 'transparency' that the Internet affords—and sometimes because of it—there are qualities bound up in the architecture of this medium that give rise to paranoia. Using examples from Uzbek online political discourse, I show how the Internet has fueled suspicion and fears about the state security services despite attempts to demystify and assuage them.

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[End] Users as Designers

The Internet in Everyday Life in Irish Households

Deirdre Hynes

This paper presents a study of Irish households, the internet and everyday life. Social studies of technology draw heavily from anthropology, not only in ethnographic methodologies but also in the ways in which such data can be understood and interpreted within the contexts of everyday life. To achieve this, the concept of the domestication of (media) technologies has been developed to describe and analyse the processes of technology's acceptance, rejection and use. Domestication is employed as a structural and analytical framework to achieve an empirical understanding of the domestic user. Based on a critical analysis from an anthropological perspective, the paper will revise the original domestication of the concept of technology. The notion of technological black boxes and I-methodology strategies are critiqued. This paper calls for users to be conceptualised as active agents in the overall design process and not as just end users who become active once the artefact has become commodified.

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Emma Celeste Bedor

Revenge pornography emerged in a flurry moral panic in 2010 when Hunter Moore created the website Is Anyone Up? (isanyoneup.com), where anonymous Internet users submitted nude photos for thousands of unknown purveyors to view. Moore’s endeavor appeared ingenious: What better way could angry exes enact revenge and humiliation on former partners than by displaying their naked photos, against their will and without consent, on a notorious website? The site’s “spirit of retaliation,” apparent from an anthem whose lyrics consisted of “Cheated on me and broke my heart / Gonna show the world your private parts” lives on due to the emergence of other revenge pornography sites, despite the fact that isanyoneup.com was disbanded and Moore recently arrested. Using a critical theoretical framework, this article illustrates that victims of revenge pornography are emblematic of post-feminist and neoliberal hostilities. As such, this article contends that revenge pornography is about revenge and humiliation, not sex.

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To Russia with love

Hope, confinement, and virtuality among youth on the Georgian Black Sea coast

Martin Demant Frederiksen

Among young unemployed or underemployed men in the port city of Batumi, the regional center of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara in Georgia, the Black Sea is a social and imaginary horizon that signifies both geographical mobility and confinement. Since Georgia gained independence, Batumi went from being a Soviet borderland to being an opening to the West. However, due to visa regulations, “the West”—and the opportunities associated with it—has long been limited to the other Black Sea countries of Turkey and Ukraine. Following the August 2008 war, Russia, although being a much more desirable destination, became out of reach for the majority of these men. Through the notions of social and geographical horizons, this article argues that the young men, despite their sense of confinement, manage to forge alternative connections to Russia via Internet sites, where the online dating of Russian women was used as a means to gain access to Russia via marriage.

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Dearly Departed

Communicating with the Dead in the Digital Age

Jennifer Huberman

This article explores how the Internet is reshaping relationships between the living and the dead. Drawing on data from the online memorial site ForeverMissed.com, it examines why online memorials are increasingly being used to commemorate the deceased instead of the more traditional genre of the obituary. It depicts how the Internet is providing new means for the bereaved to communicate with the dead and how these changes might signal new forms of consciousness and avenues of connectivity. Inspired by the findings of media theorist José van Dijck, I argue that online memorials serve both a commemorative and a ‘communicative’ function, allowing for relationships with the deceased to be maintained and for connections to be made with living others. This article also analyzes the Internet’s role as a ‘techno-spiritual system’.

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Online Documents of India’s Past

Digital Archives and Memory Production

Katja Müller

How can the online distribution of heritage facilitate successful forms of collective online memory production? Two online archives from India are taken as case studies to analyze practices that make online archives effective as devices for recalling and constructing the Indian past. It is not only contextual conditions of the Internet age, but also particular applied practices of presenting, communicating, and using social media that enable it. Yet, the analysis of the two recently created online archives, which are partially driven by the idea of widening access, show that they do not so much set up counterpositions to established conceptions of archives as regulating entities, but rather aim at becoming acknowledged heritage agents.

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Education and Godly Technology

Gender, Culture, and the Work of Home Schooling

Michael W. Apple

The secularity of the state is seen by 'authoritarian populist' religious conservatives as imposing a world-view that is out of touch with the deep religious commitments that guide their lives. In the process, authoritarian populists have taken on subaltern identities and claimed that they are the last truly dispossessed groups. To demonstrate their increasing power in educational and social policy, I situate a specific set of technologies—the Internet—within the social context of its use in this community. I focus on the growing home-schooling movement and suggest that to understand the societal meaning and uses of these technologies, we need to examine the social movement that provides the context for their use. I also argue that we need to analyze critically the kind of labor that is required in home schooling, who is engaged in such labor, and how such labor is interpreted by the actors who perform it.

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Femininity Out of Control on the Internet

A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and MySpace.com in International News Discourses

Shayla Thiel-Stern

This article raises issues related to the gendered representation in the print media, particularly English-language newspapers, of girls who use MySpace as foolish innocents who invite sexual predation. It examines the ways in which the stereotyped representation of girls and boys promotes the hegemonic discourses that construct girlhood as a time of helplessness and lack of control, and that blame the technology itself, in this case MySpace, for a multitude of cultural problems. Ultimately, these discourses portray MySpace as a dangerous place where adolescent girls flaunt sexuality, where sexual predators lurk, and where boys commit violence, thus creating and reinforcing a moral panic and extending stereotypes about girls and boys, and about technology.

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Rethinking France’s “Memory Wars”

Harki Collective Memories, 2003–2010

Laura Jeanne Sims

Since 2005, scholars and politicians have employed a framework of “memory wars” to interpret conflicts over the colonial past in France. The case of the Harkis, Algerians who fought with the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence, and their descendents, challenges basic features of this paradigm. Disputes among children of Harkis about how to interpret the French colonial project in Algeria and their fathers’ motivations for supporting the French reveal the limitations of considering the Harkis and other participants in the Algerian War as unified memory camps, a constituent element of the memory war model. Conceiving of memory debates in terms of a “war” also obscures the ways in which narrating the past can constitute an act of reconciliation and signal a desire for inclusion, as it has for Harki sons and daughters.