The Social Ontologies of the Internet

By Kevin J. Lande.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the conceptual logic of social scientific inquiries into the Internet. Two disparate paradigms are found to underlie research interpretations and conclusions. On the one hand, the Internet is construed as a technology for extending extant modes of communication between actors in a social setting. On the other hand, the Internet is construed as a sui generis space of interaction, establishing its own autonomous modes of communication and social behavior not bound to the structures of an extrinsic social milieu. I argue that these amount to fundamental ontological differences in how researchers constitute the Internet as an object of inquiry in relation to society. The task of this paper is to explicate the logical contours of these two social ontologies of the Internet, showing how they have been exhibited in research, and how future research must reflexively examine the assumed paradigms for constituting the Internet as an object of research while taking into account how different social subjects experience the Internet.

Keywords: Social Ontology, Paradigm, Internet, Technology, Social Space

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.165-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.280MB).

Kevin J. Lande

Department of Philosophy, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA

Kevin J. Lande graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman in 2009 and is currently enrolled in the M.A. program in Philosophy at Brandeis University. His research interests center on the philosophy of mind (particularly with respect to perception, intentionality, and the relationship of mind and brain), philosophy of language and meaning, and metaphysics. In addition, he studies the theoretical foundations and empirical frameworks of the social sciences.

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