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