Information Society from a Comparative Perspective: Digital Divide and Social Effects of the Internet

The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective

 

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Vol 1, No 1 (2007) >
Information Society from a Comparative Perspective: Digital Divide…

Galácz, A. , &
Smahel, D.
(2007).
Information Society from a Comparative Perspective: Digital Divide and Social Effects of the Internet.
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 1(1), article 5.

Retrieved from https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/4204/3245



Information Society from a Comparative Perspective: Digital Divide and Social Effects of the Internet

Anna Galácz1, David Smahel2

1Department of Social Sciences, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary

2Institute for Research of Children, Youth and Family, Faculty of Social Studies,

Masaryk University, Brno Czech Republic

Abstract

The article shows results from the World Internet Project, an international research focused on examining the influence of computers, the Internet and related technologies on the individual, family and society. The main goal of this paper is to give readers a general view on Internet use in four studied countries (USA, Singapore, Hungary, Czech Republic). The article shows differences in the Internet use according to gender, age and education of the population, indicating the digital gaps in these four countries. The results about reasons for non Internet use are also presented. The paper also gives a basic image of the effects of the Internet on time spent with families and the overall contact with families and friends. The article presents data from quantitative research on population samples of 18 years of age and older, all four samples were made representative for each country.

Introduction

In our article, we show some basic results from the World Internet Project, an international research focused on examining the influence of computers, the Internet and related technologies on the individual, family and society (see chapter “About the World Internet Project”). The presented article is mainly a report from the project which gives us a frame for other pieces of research from the international perspective. Although the paper is mainly a report, we also try to show some basic concepts of other authors which are connected with presented results. The main goal of this paper is to give readers a general view on Internet use in four studied countries and give them a basic image about the effects of the Internet on time spent with families and the overall contact with families and friends.

The phenomenon and the development of the digital divide is one of the most investigated research topics on the field of new media and ICT research. According to the simplest definition the concept of digital divide describes the phenomenon that there is a difference between certain social groups in the likelihood of accessing and using the Internet. Theories usually make a distinction between different kinds of divides: the most general is to separate the so-called global digital divide and the social digital divide. While the first one refers to the differences between countries and greater geographic regions, the latter refers to inequalities between different social groups in a given social system (e.g.: in countries, smaller regions or groups) (Norris, 2001).

On the field of social digital divide, researches often focus on the social demographic features along which these differences develop. According to the analyses, these determining factors are more or less the same in most countries, of course with different tones. These are usually income, education, age and gender, while in some cases geographic location and race are also important. (Bognár-Galácz, 2004)

Researches also try to find out what will happen with these inequalities in the future. The optimists developed the so-called normalization thesis which suggests that as the diffusion of Internet usage goes along, these inequalities will decrease to completely disappear after a while (see for example Rose 2004). On the contrary, the supporters of the stratification thesis assume that the inequalities will remain, although somehow transformed, and the most decisive factor will be how certain groups use the Internet and how good their usage skills are. (DiMaggio-Hargittai, 2001)

Recently several analyses tried to find answers to the aforementioned questions, but the picture is still far from clear: some results have supported the normalization theory, while others the stratification theory. (Dutton et al., 2006)

Now we will present basic concepts of the social effects of Internet use. Although a lot of research has been done, the situation is similar to the digital divide issue: research results are sometimes in contradiction and the situation is changing on an almost day-by-day basis.

Tyler (2005) reviewed several studies about the social effects of the Internet and suggested that the Internet may have less impact on human social life that it is frequently supposed. He concluded that “the Internet seems to have created new ways of doing old things, rather than being a technology that changes the manner in which people live their lives”. The Internet does not often create new forms of behavior but it gives new tools to current forms of behavior.

Krauts’ first study (1998) stated that respondents in his study (208 new Internet users) were after 2-3 years of the Internet use less socially involved and more lonely and depressed. This study were reexamined and criticized by many authors and alone Kraut his team conducted an ongoing study (Kraut et al., 2002) where they found no negative effects of the Internet on individuals. They suggested that the Internet had a small but positive effect on social involvement and psychological well-being. Authors presented more positive effects than in previous work.

One of the studies which tried to confirm Krauts’ research was made in Sweden (Wastlund et al, 2001), where authors surveyed 500 students of at Karlstad University aged from 18 to 61 years old. Contradict to first Kraut’s study they did not find the relationship between Internet use and psychological well-being.

Another research on 984 students (Weiser, 2001) confirmed very low effects of Internet use on the psychological well-being, but stated an interesting hypothesis about the connection between the manner of Internet use and effects on the measure of social integration. The author revealed two basic ways of Internet use, first for social and interpersonal usage (so called SAR) and for informational and professional purpose (GIA). Weiser’s research results show that the Internet use for informational purposes was associated with increased social integration and the use for social and interpersonal usage was on the other hand connected with decreased social integration.

In this paper, we will investigate the digital divide in four countries in the case of three important socio-economic variables: gender, age, and education. Since our data is not longitudinal, we only can give a snapshot about the situation of digital divide in the investigated countries. But, since these four countries are on different stages of penetration we can make some conclusions about the possible important factors that determine digital divide.

The second part of our paper is concentrated on the problem of social effects of the Internet on individuals and family. We mainly analyzed the perceived changes in spending face to face time with families after people started using the Internet and also the effect of Internet use on overall contact with family and friends.

Country profiles

To give the reader a basic overview about the countries in the form of a presented comparison, we show a table of country profiles, see Table 1:

Table 1: Country profiles of four countries for comparison

 

United States

Czech Republic

Hungary

Republic of Singapore

Land Area

9,161,923 sq km

77,276 sq km

92,341 sq km

683 sq km

Population

300,000,000

10,235,455

9,981,334

4,492,150

Density per sq km

32

132

108

6577

Grow rate

0.9%

-0.1%

-0.3%

1.4%

Ethnicity/race

White 75.1%, Black 12.3%, Asian 3.6%, Hispanic 12.5%, other 6.5%

Czech 90.4%, Moravian 3.7%, Slovak 1.9%, other 4%

Hungarian 92.3%, Roma 1.9%, other or unknown 5.8%

Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4%

GDP per capita

$42,000

$18,100

$16,100

$29,900

We can see that there are big differences between the selected countries, USA is the biggest country with very heterogenous population and highest GDP, Singapore is the smallest country (because it is actually a city), which is pretty rich compared to post-communist countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic. Hungary and the Czech Republic are the most similar countries in our comparison, with similar land area, population and GDP, so it will be interesting to see if these similarities will also remain in the characteristics of Internet penetration and the social effects of the Internet.

About the World Internet Project

The World Internet Project was initiated by UCLA in California and NTU School of Communication Studies Singapore in the summer of 1999. Since then more than 15 countries have joined the project form four continents. The WIP research has several characteristics that make it special among the fortunately increasing number of surveys investigating the social effects of the Internet.

Compared to recent surveys focusing on users one of the important novelties of WIP is the extension of the investigation to non-users as well. This allows the investigation of both the transitions between the groups of users and non-users and the dynamics of changes and the wide comparison among opinions and attitudes of both groups. By these means the reasons of “keeping away” can also be cleared.

WIP tries to create a map of the overall social effects of the Internet, not merely from one point of view. This is why we have elaborated the project of a longitudinal ten-year research period the investigations of which are repeated each year. This gives a possibility to constantly follow up the kind of short and long term effects Internet use has on people’s opinions, habits and the lives of households. WIP analyses also can be useful for business and government policies for creating sufficiently elastic strategies targeting the most relevant questions and issues by following up changes.

This is a survey of international comparison. It helps us to get to know the social changes connected with the Web in different countries and regions. The questions of the questionnaires of each nation include variables measuring general “social disposition”, opinions on electronic technologies and the Internet and trust in different institutions as well. This makes comparison possible in these fields. According to their individual interests, researchers of each country may add special, particular questions and subjects relevant to their given country. Research-groups that take part in World Internet Project inform each other about achieved results and discuss their experiences and conclusions in regular annual conferences.

The possibility of comparison is provided by the so called common question set. These common questions are included to every national survey and produce approximately 70 common variables. In 2006, the common variables were integrated for the first time into one common database which allows for more sophisticated research.

Methodology: Data samples

The data analyzed in this paper was collected and is owned by the following institutes:

(1) Czech Republic: Institute of Children, Youth and Family Research, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno

(2) Hungary: Fieldwork was conducted by TÁRKI, Social Research Center, procurer and owner is ITHAKA Kht.

(3) Singapore: Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC), Nanyang Technological University

(4) USA: USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, Los Angeles

We present data on population samples of 18 years of age and older, all four samples were made representative for each country. The following table shows more information about each of the presented data samples:

Table 2: Basic information about sample and method in four countries

Country

Number of respondents

Data collection

Method

Representativity

Czech Republic

1706

September 2006

Face to face interviews

Representative for: sex, education, age, region, and the size of the respondent’s domicile

Hungary

3970

May 2006

Face to face interviews

Representative for Hungarian population aged 14 years old and older and for Hungarian households

Singapore

1000

2006

Telephone interviews

Representative for Singaporian population of age 18 and older

USA

2269

2006

Telephone interviews

Representative for US population of age 12 and older

These four data sets were added into one SPSS database and were analyzed according to the goals of our presentation.

Results

Penetration and digital divide in 2006

General penetration numbers are very different in the four countries. Two of them – USA and Singapore can be characterized with very high percentages: 76 and 70 percent of the adult population are a regular Internet users. The rate of users in the Czech Republic can be considered moderate (50%), what is in the middle range of the EU countries. The rate of users in Hungary is very low (33%) compared to either of these countries as well as to other European nations, see Figure 1.

fig
Figure 1: Percentage of Internet users in the four examined countries (% of users in population over 18 years of age, 2006)

Here we do not aim for understanding these differences in details: we can assume that a complicated relationship of historical, economical, attitudinal and cultural factors lies behind the different numbers. But the fact that we can compare four countries with different penetration numbers allows us to investigate the situation of different divides and perhaps we can see some fragments of their development.

The first variable we investigate in this context is gender. In most countries the gender differences are usually smaller than other gaps. In the case of the US, the difference in the rate of users among men and women is almost irrelevant, only 2% (with a prevalence of women). The differences observed in Hungary and in the Czech Republic are somewhat greater, but still quite small – 6 and 7%. However this gender gap is much wider in Singapore (14%) although the overall penetration rate is very high, see Figure 2. This could be caused by the fact that the traditional role of women is stronger in Singapore than in other countries.

fig
Figure 2: The gender gap in the four examined countries (% of users in population over 18 years of age, 2006)

Concerning age, we can conclude that people of younger age tend to use the Internet more often. The members of the oldest age group, those who are 60 years old or older, are especially lagged behind – this holds in every examined country. This is a general pattern, however the differences vary from country to country. The differences are the smallest in the US, in this case the relationship is not even linear, and the rate of users is relatively high even in the oldest cohort. The differences are bigger in the other three countries. It is worth mentioning that despite the very different general penetration numbers the gap in Singapore is almost as big as in the two East-European countries. Moreover, in relative terms, the lag of the oldest age groups is greater in Singapore, see Figure 3.

fig
Figure 3: The age gap in the four countries (% of users in population over 18 years of age, 2006)

The same conclusions can be drawn when investigating the role of educational level. The importance of education is obvious: quite serious differences have developed in all the four countries from this respect. Again, in the US the gaps are smaller. In Hungary the role of education is traditionally very important, and the situation seems to be the same in Singapore. In the Czech Republic, differences are smaller, but the effect of education is unquestionably relevant.

fig
Figure 4: The school gap in the four examined countries (% of users in population over 18 years of age, 2006)

What are the main conclusions from the aforementioned numbers? The most important thing we can state is that the relationship between the level of penetration and the state of digital divide is not obvious. Even in countries with high penetration numbers, serious inequalities in some respect can be observed, while countries with low penetration can have narrower gaps.

This probably means that the neither of the two concepts concerning the future of digital divides is inclusive: penetration is not the only factor shaping this development. Cultural factors and national characteristics have a serious impact on how the different divides develop over time.

The importance of cultural effects can also be illustrated in the next figure. As one can see in Figure 5, the main reasons for not using the Internet are very different in the four countries, irrespective to the penetration level. The US and the Czech Republic are somewhat similar: in these countries the most important reason of not using the Internet is the lack of a proper tool: a computer or Internet access. In Hungary the most important reason is motivational: a lot of non users think that the Internet is not useful or interesting enough. However, in the case of Singapore the most important obstacle is cognitive: a majority of non users simply does not know how to use the Internet. Of course, we can see an obvious relationship too: in economically poorer countries (Hungary, Czech Republic) pure financial reasons (‚too expensive’) have more relevance, but the overall differences should call our attention to the important role of cultural factors.

fig
Figure 5: Main reasons for not using the Internet in the four examined countries (% of those who provided a reason among non Internet users, 18 years old and older, 2006)
Social effects of Internet use

In this chapter, our goal is to show how the Internet influences the amount of time spent face to face with family members and what are the changes in the measure of overall contact with family and friends.

The respondents of the World Internet project were asked to answer the following question:

“Since being connected to the Internet at home, the members of your household have spent more face-to-face time together, spent less face to face time together, or spent about the same amount of face to face time together?”

The Figure 6 shows the frequencies of respondents’ answers to this question:

fig
Figure 6: The change of time spent face to face with family members: basic frequencies

In general, most of the respondents in every country stated that they spend “about the same amount of time” with their families face to face (73 – 89%), although the higher ratio of respondents think that they spent less time with family; overall for four countries it is 13.8% (less time with family) against 5.1% (more time). The overall differences between countries are significant ?2(6, N = 3791) = 163.2, p = .000. The highest portion of respondents (23.5%) claiming they spend less time with family since they connected to the Internet at home is in the Czech Republic. Country differences are interesting because they do not copy any characteristic of Internet use at all. All we can see is a similarity with the overall time spent with families, which is highest in Singapore (in average 34 hours socializing with family per week), somewhat lower in Czech (27.5 hours per week) and much lower in Hungary (only 8.3 hours per week); there was no question regarding the total time with family in the US’ questionnaire. On the other hand, a much lower percent of respondents in Hungary stated that they spent less time with families than in Singapore and Czech. We can hypothesize that high amount of time spent with family can be decreased by Internet use, but the Internet has lower effects on families where the amount of socializing is already lower.

This hypothesis can be partly supported by the analysis because we found no significant differences in any country in the amount of time spent with family between those who stated they spend “less time with family” and the “same time with family”. Both groups socialize with their families in a similar rate now, so if some people really spend less time with their families now, they had to spend more time with them before. But it could also be that it is just a normal phrase to say “the Internet is eating time that I would spend with my family” and the Internet has in real no effect.

The differences in answers to this question were not significant according to the gender of respondent in any country except US, where 13% of men said they spend less time with their family opposed to 7% of women answering the same.

We also tried to examine the presented data in the opposite way; we asked how much time people who say they spend “less time with family” and “about the same time” actually spend on the internet. Table 3 shows the results, the average for “more time with family” was not calculated because there were not enough respondents in the category.

Table 3: Differences in average time spent weekly on the Internet between users who spend “less time” or “same amount of time” with family

 

“Less time with family”: average hours weekly on the Internet
(N)

“About the same amount of time”: average hours weekly on the Internet
(N)

Significance of difference between the two previous columns
F (p)

Singapore

19.5 hours (105)

15 hours (272)

5.2 ( p = 0.022)

USA

13,1 hours (151)

10,2 hours (1293)

8.1 (p = 0.04)

Hungary

7,2 hours (74)

8 hours (679)

0.38 (p = 0.539)

Czech

8,5 hours (179)

6,9 hours (711)

4.1 (p = 0.44)

We can see that the difference in time spent weekly on the Internet was significant except for Hungary: people who say that they spend less time with family since they started using the Internet tend to spent more hours on the Internet on average weekly. The difference is 4.5 hours in Singapore, 2.9 hours in USA and 1.6 hours in Czech. We can speculate if people truly took this time (the difference between first and second group in table) from time spent with family or if they just have a higher tendency to reflect the fact that they spend a lot of time on the Internet onto their lack of time spent with family. Both these possibilities should be verified by future research.

We also tried to find another variable which could explain the differences between people who spend “less time with family” and the “same amount of time with family” and also between countries, but the search was not quite successful. The best explanation of the differences was provided via answers to the following question:

“Satisfaction with the way family discusses items of common interest and shares problem solving according to face to face time in family together.”

With possible answers: “Almost always”, “Sometimes”, “Hardly ever”.

Figure 7 shows answers to this question according to the change of the time spent with family since using the Internet. The answer “Hardly ever” was very rare and was not possible to add it in the analysis.

fig
Figure 7: The changes in time spent face to face with family members according to the satisfaction with the way family discusses items of common interest

We can see differences in every country between respondents who said they are “almost always” satisfied with the way family discusses items of common interest and shares problem solving and between those who said they are “sometimes” satisfied: there is a tendency that less satisfied people with family discussions spend less time with their families since they starting using the Internet at home. The differences are significant on the 0.05 level except for Singapore (Hungary: ? = 18.8, p = 0.00; USA: ? = 12.4, p = 0.02; Singapore: ? = 4.9, p = 0.085; Czech did not have this question in their questionnaire). We can have a hypothesis that people who are less satisfied with their family life tend to spend less time with their families because of Internet use, since on the Internet they can socialize with other people.

Now we will focus on the level of overall contact with families and friends as an effect of Internet use. Respondents answered the following question:
“Has the use of Internet increased or decreased your contact with the following groups?”
Questionnaires in Singapore and Hungary both used the category: “family and friends”, while the Czech study separated these two groups, USA did not include such a question in their questionnaire. Figure 8 shows basic frequencies of answers to this question.

fig
Figure 8: “Did the Internet increase or decrease your contact with family and friends?”

Most respondents answered that their contact “remained the same” (43-71%), but in every country a higher portion of respondents said that their contact increased rather than decreased. In the Czech Republic, a total of 46% respondents stated that the Internet increased their contact with friends (8% decreased) and 21% stated it increased their contact with family (9% decreased). In Singapore, a total of 50% agreed that the Internet increased their contact with “family and friends” (7% decreased), in Hungary we can see a largest balance between people stating that the Internet decreased or increased their contact with friends and family, a total of 21% think their contact was increased and 12% that it was decreased.

If we think about these answers in the context of previous graphs, it becomes clear that respondents included online contacts with their friends and families, since otherwise the results would be similar to those in previous question. As opposed to the previous part, a higher portion of respondents think that their contact was increased in total, meaning that people probably often use the Internet for communication with friends and families. A direct comparison with the previous question is possible only in the Czech Republic where respondents were asked directly about contact with family and a total of 21% stated their contact was increased although in the previously analyzed question only 3.5% agreed that they spent more face to face time together. So it’s clear that about 20% people contact their family members more often than before by e-mails, online messengers and perhaps other technologies (Skype etc.). Right now, we can only speculate about the frequency and quality of this online contact with family members increasing the frequency of communication from the respondents’ point of view.

We also looked at gender differences in overall contact with family and friends and no significant results were found in any country.

Then we tried to find a variable which correlated the most with these changes in overall contact with family and friends and revealed that the highest correlation is paradoxical with hours spent on the Internet at home. This result is shown in Figure 9.

fig
Figure 9: “Use of Internet increased or decreased your contact with family and friends according to hours weekly on the Internet at home”

Results in any country (both in Czech) were significant on the level p < 0.05. We can first look at results in Singapore and Hungary, where respondents answered together for "family and friends". We can see a similarity pattern: respondents who spent more hours on the Internet stated more frequently that the Internet increased their contact with "family and friends". In Hungary, 36% of people who spent more than 10 hours weekly on the Internet at home think that the Internet increased their contact as opposed to 16% of those who spent less than 2 hours weekly. In Singapore, 57% of respondents spending over 10 hours on the Internet and 36% of those spending less than 2 hours on the Internet agreed with spending more time with family and friends. There is also a similar pattern in the Czech Republic, but only for friends: 60% of people who spend 10 and more hours on the Internet weekly think that their contact was increased as opposed to 40% of people who spend less than 2 hours. An interesting thing to note is that there is no such pattern for contact with families in Czech: between 18 - 21% of people in our categories think that their contact was increased but it is not significantly different when compared to time spent on the Internet (it does not become significant if we exclude decreased time with families). What is the biggest difference in contact with families in Czech? It is the 16% of them in the category more then 10 hours weekly on the Internet, who say, that their contact with family was decreasing: that means that "heavy users" spend less time with their families.

We can hypothesize based on presented results that the Internet mostly increases contact with friends (looking at differences between answers for family and friends in Czech) and that the contact increases more with more time spent on the Internet at home: people probably spend more time e-mailing and/or using instant messengers talking with friends. The influence on family is not clear yet, but we can guess from results in Czech that the amount of time spent on the Internet has no influence on increasing contact with family, although it could be that Internet “heavy users” decrease overall contact with their families, corresponding with results in previous parts of this article.

Discussion and Conclusions

The main conclusion of the digital divide part of our paper is that there is no fixed path of development of the digital divide. It means that greater penetration does not automatically mean the diminution of these differences in every respect. Cultural factors and characteristics have a very important effect on shaping the development of digital divides. This also means that none of the concepts mentioned in the beginning of our paper can be universally valid. Both the thesis of normalization and stratification can be justified by results of analyses since these developments are different in different context. So, in the case of digital divide, the observations often made on Internet related social issues are also plausible: none of the extreme scenarios are taking place, but moderate types of development are happening (DiMaggio et. al, 2001).

In the field of research on digital divide, our results suggest that, both in national and international studies, it is always very important to take cultural factors into account. It could be especially useful to compare the diffusion of the Internet with other diffusion processes and find the cultural effects which shape the phenomenon of social diffusion. Deeper analysis of the factors hampering adaptation can help meet this goal.

Also, as literature suggests, besides the raw penetration numbers it is more and more important to investigate the so called second level divide (Hargittai, 2002), which is the difference in user skills and habits.

If we look retrospectively on presented results, we can see that most people stated that the Internet did not change the time spent face to face with families and the overall contact with families was not changed a lot. The Internet probably mediated higher contact with friends which is realized through the Internet while people are sitting at home. In this sense, we can agree with Tyler (2005) who suggested that the impact of the Internet on social life is probably lower than frequently assumed and that the Internet is first of all a new tool for doing “old things in new ways”. Such as the Internet is a special tool for the communication with friends and family.

Tyler’s hypothesis is also supported by our finding that there is some connection between the Internet’s ability to lower face to face contact in those families where the respondents are less satisfied with the way family discusses items of common interest (see Figure 7). We can speculate that for some people the Internet could be an environment where they can escape their family problems and can communicate with other people from home.

We found inspiration in the results of Weiser (2001), who defined two manners of Internet behavior: using it for social and interpersonal purposes and using it for informational purposes. We can say in general that it is not easy to study the influence of Internet use, first of all it is clear that there is not just one way to use the Internet. The manners of Internet use are just as various as human beings and we should speak about the influence of specific environments and specific ways of Internet use and not about the global influence of the Internet. This is also an appeal for future research: to study specific Internet environments and to give answers regarding how these environments influence the life of people. Another appeal is to compare different countries and cultures: our results suggested that there are big and deep differences even between countries with very similar characteristics, such as Czech and Hungary. We must think about the base of these differences and deepen our analysis and understanding of specific phenomenon and cultural specifics. The global country comparison can give us a broader view like in this article but it is also important to study special subgroups and themes in different countries, such as “heavy users”, specific discussion groups, people endangered by Internet addiction, impact on family relationships etc. If we read research results from one country, we can not rely on the fact that the findings will be the valid in other countries. The cultural influence on family is quite probably much bigger than Internet influence is (which is also a hypothesis for future research). The specific people environment is what creates Internet specific cultures, but the culture is also influenced retrospectively by the global culture by the Internet. So it is plausible to speculate about a kind of spiral and it is a task for researchers to reveal how this truly works.

We must also think about presented research limitations. We presented only very broad quantitative results on representative samples in four countries. Our results do not offer deep details, we simply presented global trends and a global view on the problematic. Presented results should simply be considered a frame for deeper research and analysis. We hope that the World Internet Project could also become an important source of data for such intercultural analysis.

References

[1] Bognár, É., Galácz, A. (2004): A társadalmi egyenlõtlenségek új dimenziója – a digitális egyenlõtlenség nemzetközi összehasonlításban, (The new dimension of social inequalities: digital divide in international comparison) in: Bognár, K. et al. (eds.): EU-tanulmányok II., Nemzeti Fejlesztési Hivatal, 2004, 949-980 (in Hungarian)

[2] DiMaggio P., Hargittai E., (2001): From the ‘Digital Divide’ to ‘Digital Inequality’: Studying Internet Use As Penetration Increases”,
http://www.princeton.edu/~artspol/workpap/WP15%20-%20DiMaggio%2BHargittai.pdf

[3] DiMaggio P., at al (2001): The Social Implications of the Internet, Annual Review of Sociology, 27:303-336.

[4] Dutton, W. H., Shepherd, A., di Gennaro, C. (2006): Digitális megosztottságok és digitális döntések: Az internet terjedésének és használatának brit és nemzetközi mintázatai (Digital divides and digital choices), in: Dessewffy T. – Fábián Z. – Z. Karvalics L. (ed.): Internet.hu 3, TÁRKI, Budapest. (In Hungarian)

[5] Hargittai E., (2002): Second Level Digital Divide, First Monday, 7(4)

[6] Norris, P. (2001): Digital Divide? Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet in Democratic Societies, Cambridge University Press

[7] Tyler, R., T. (2002). Is The Internet Changing Social Life? It Seems the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. Journal of Social Issues. 58, 1, pp. 195 – 205

[8] Kraut, R. E., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukhopadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological wellbeing? American Psychologist, 53, 1017-1032.

[9] Kraut, R., Kiesler, S., Boneva, B., Cummings, J., Helgeson, V., & Crawford, A. (2002). The Internet paradox revisited. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 1, 49-74

[10] Rose, R. (2004): Governance and the Internet. In Yusuf, S., Altaf, M.A., & Nabeshima, K. (eds.), Global change and East Asian policy initiatives. New York: World Bank Group

[11] Wastlund, B.A., E.; Norlander, T. & Archer, T. (2001). Internet Blues Revisited: Replication and Extension of an Internet Paradox Study. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 4, 3, pp. 385 – 391

Acknowledgements:

David Smahel acknowledges the support of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MSM0021622406 and 1P05ME751) and Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University.

In 2006 the Hungarian World Internet Project was funded by the National Office for Research and Technology. Anna Galacz also acknowledges the support of the Hungarian Scientific research Fund (T/F 043757).

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The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective

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Artículo del libro Change: 19 Key Essays on How the Internet Is Changing Our Lives

The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective

Change | Communication | Culture | Internet | Sociology


Manuel Castells
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

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Introduction

The Internet is the decisive technology of the Information Age, as the electrical engine was the vector of technological transformation of the Industrial Age. This global network of computer networks, largely based nowadays on platforms of wireless communication, provides ubiquitous capacity of multimodal, interactive communication in chosen time, transcending space. The Internet is not really a new technology: its ancestor, the Arpanet, was first deployed in 1969 (Abbate 1999). But it was in the 1990s when it was privatized and released from the control of the U.S. Department of Commerce that it diffused around the world at extraordinary speed: in 1996 the first survey of Internet users counted about 40 million; in 2013 they are over 2.5 billion, with China accounting for the largest number of Internet users. Furthermore, for some time the spread of the Internet was limited by the difficulty to lay out land-based telecommunications infrastructure in the emerging countries. This has changed with the explosion of wireless communication in the early twenty-first century. Indeed, in 1991, there were about 16 million subscribers of wireless devices in the world, in 2013 they are close to 7 billion (in a planet of 7.7 billion human beings). Counting on the family and village uses of mobile phones, and taking into consideration the limited use of these devices among children under five years of age, we can say that humankind is now almost entirely connected, albeit with great levels of inequality in the bandwidth as well as in the efficiency and price of the service.

At the heart of these communication networks the Internet ensures the production, distribution, and use of digitized information in all formats. According to the study published by Martin Hilbert in Science (Hilbert and López 2011), 95 percent of all information existing in the planet is digitized and most of it is accessible on the Internet and other computer networks.

The speed and scope of the transformation of our communication environment by Internet and wireless communication has triggered all kind of utopian and dystopian perceptions around the world.

As in all moments of major technological change, people, companies, and institutions feel the depth of the change, but they are often overwhelmed by it, out of sheer ignorance of its effects.

The media aggravate the distorted perception by dwelling into scary reports on the basis of anecdotal observation and biased commentary. If there is a topic in which social sciences, in their diversity, should contribute to the full understanding of the world in which we live, it is precisely the area that has come to be named in academia as Internet Studies. Because, in fact, academic research knows a great deal on the interaction between Internet and society, on the basis of methodologically rigorous empirical research conducted in a plurality of cultural and institutional contexts. Any process of major technological change generates its own mythology. In part because it comes into practice before scientists can assess its effects and implications, so there is always a gap between social change and its understanding. For instance, media often report that intense use of the Internet increases the risk of alienation, isolation, depression, and withdrawal from society. In fact, available evidence shows that there is either no relationship or a positive cumulative relationship between the Internet use and the intensity of sociability. We observe that, overall, the more sociable people are, the more they use the Internet. And the more they use the Internet, the more they increase their sociability online and offline, their civic engagement, and the intensity of family and friendship relationships, in all cultures—with the exception of a couple of early studies of the Internet in the 1990s, corrected by their authors later (Castells 2001; Castells et al. 2007; Rainie and Wellman 2012; Center for the Digital Future 2012 et al.).

Thus, the purpose of this chapter will be to summarize some of the key research findings on the social effects of the Internet relying on the evidence provided by some of the major institutions specialized in the social study of the Internet. More specifically, I will be using the data from the world at large: the World Internet Survey conducted by the Center for the Digital Future, University of Southern California; the reports of the British Computer Society (BCS), using data from the World Values Survey of the University of Michigan; the Nielsen reports for a variety of countries; and the annual reports from the International Telecommunications Union. For data on the United States, I have used the Pew American Life and Internet Project of the Pew Institute. For the United Kingdom, the Oxford Internet Survey from the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, as well as the Virtual Society Project from the Economic and Social Science Research Council. For Spain, the Project Internet Catalonia of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC); the various reports on the information society from Telefónica; and from the Orange Foundation. For Portugal, the Observatório de Sociedade da Informação e do Conhecimento (OSIC) in Lisbon. I would like to emphasize that most of the data in these reports converge toward similar trends. Thus I have selected for my analysis the findings that complement and reinforce each other, offering a consistent picture of the human experience on the Internet in spite of the human diversity.

Given the aim of this publication to reach a broad audience, I will not present in this text the data supporting the analysis presented here. Instead, I am referring the interested reader to the web sources of the research organizations mentioned above, as well as to selected bibliographic references discussing the empirical foundation of the social trends reported here.

Technologies of Freedom, the Network Society, and the Culture of Autonomy

In order to fully understand the effects of the Internet on society, we should remember that technology is material culture. It is produced in a social process in a given institutional environment on the basis of the ideas, values, interests, and knowledge of their producers, both their early producers and their subsequent producers. In this process we must include the users of the technology, who appropriate and adapt the technology rather than adopting it, and by so doing they modify it and produce it in an endless process of interaction between technological production and social use. So, to assess the relevance of Internet in society we must recall the specific characteristics of Internet as a technology. Then we must place it in the context of the transformation of the overall social structure, as well as in relationship to the culture characteristic of this social structure. Indeed, we live in a new social structure, the global network society, characterized by the rise of a new culture, the culture of autonomy.

Internet is a technology of freedom, in the terms coined by Ithiel de Sola Pool in 1973, coming from a libertarian culture, paradoxically financed by the Pentagon for the benefit of scientists, engineers, and their students, with no direct military application in mind (Castells 2001). The expansion of the Internet from the mid-1990s onward resulted from the combination of three main factors:

  • The technological discovery of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee and his willingness to distribute the source code to improve it by the open-source contribution of a global community of users, in continuity with the openness of the TCP/IP Internet protocols. The web keeps running under the same principle of open source. And two-thirds of web servers are operated by Apache, an open-source server program.
  • Institutional change in the management of the Internet, keeping it under the loose management of the global Internet community, privatizing it, and allowing both commercial uses and cooperative uses.
  • Major changes in social structure, culture, and social behavior: networking as a prevalent organizational form; individuation as the main orientation of social behavior; and the culture of autonomy as the culture of the network society.

I will elaborate on these major trends.

Our society is a network society; that is, a society constructed around personal and organizational networks powered by digital networks and communicated by the Internet. And because networks are global and know no boundaries, the network society is a global network society. This historically specific social structure resulted from the interaction between the emerging technological paradigm based on the digital revolution and some major sociocultural changes. A primary dimension of these changes is what has been labeled the rise of the Me-centered society, or, in sociological terms, the process of individuation, the decline of community understood in terms of space, work, family, and ascription in general. This is not the end of community, and not the end of place-based interaction, but there is a shift toward the reconstruction of social relationships, including strong cultural and personal ties that could be considered a form of community, on the basis of individual interests, values, and projects.

The process of individuation is not just a matter of cultural evolution, it is materially produced by the new forms of organizing economic activities, and social and political life, as I analyzed in my trilogy on the Information Age (Castells 1996–2003). It is based on the transformation of space (metropolitan life), work and economic activity (rise of the networked enterprise and networked work processes), culture and communication (shift from mass communication based on mass media to mass self-communication based on the Internet); on the crisis of the patriarchal family, with increasing autonomy of its individual members; the substitution of media politics for mass party politics; and globalization as the selective networking of places and processes throughout the planet.

But individuation does not mean isolation, or even less the end of community. Sociability is reconstructed as networked individualism and community through a quest for like-minded individuals in a process that combines online interaction with offline interaction, cyberspace and the local space. Individuation is the key process in constituting subjects (individual or collective), networking is the organizational form constructed by these subjects; this is the network society, and the form of sociability is what Rainie and Wellman (2012) conceptualized as networked individualism. Network technologies are of course the medium for this new social structure and this new culture (Papacharissi 2010).

As stated above, academic research has established that the Internet does not isolate people, nor does it reduce their sociability; it actually increases sociability, as shown by myself in my studies in Catalonia (Castells 2007), Rainie and Wellman in the United States (2012), Cardoso in Portugal (2010), and the World Internet Survey for the world at large (Center for the Digital Future 2012 et al.). Furthermore, a major study by Michael Willmott for the British Computer Society (Trajectory Partnership 2010) has shown a positive correlation, for individuals and for countries, between the frequency and intensity of the use of the Internet and the psychological indicators of personal happiness. He used global data for 35,000 people obtained from the World Wide Survey of the University of Michigan from 2005 to 2007. Controlling for other factors, the study showed that Internet use empowers people by increasing their feelings of security, personal freedom, and influence, all feelings that have a positive effect on happiness and personal well-being. The effect is particularly positive for people with lower income and who are less qualified, for people in the developing world, and for women. Age does not affect the positive relationship; it is significant for all ages. Why women? Because they are at the center of the network of their families, Internet helps them to organize their lives. Also, it helps them to overcome their isolation, particularly in patriarchal societies. The Internet also contributes to the rise of the culture of autonomy.

The key for the process of individuation is the construction of autonomy by social actors, who become subjects in the process. They do so by defining their specific projects in interaction with, but not submission to, the institutions of society. This is the case for a minority of individuals, but because of their capacity to lead and mobilize they introduce a new culture in every domain of social life: in work (entrepreneurship), in the media (the active audience), in the Internet (the creative user), in the market (the informed and proactive consumer), in education (students as informed critical thinkers, making possible the new frontier of e-learning and m-learning pedagogy), in health (the patient-centered health management system) in e-government (the informed, participatory citizen), in social movements (cultural change from the grassroots, as in feminism or environmentalism), and in politics (the independent-minded citizen able to participate in self-generated political networks).

There is increasing evidence of the direct relationship between the Internet and the rise of social autonomy. From 2002 to 2007 I directed in Catalonia one of the largest studies ever conducted in Europe on the Internet and society, based on 55,000 interviews, one-third of them face to face (IN3 2002–07). As part of this study, my collaborators and I compared the behavior of Internet users to non-Internet users in a sample of 3,000 people, representative of the population of Catalonia. Because in 2003 only about 40 percent of people were Internet users we could really compare the differences in social behavior for users and non-users, something that nowadays would be more difficult given the 79 percent penetration rate of the Internet in Catalonia. Although the data are relatively old, the findings are not, as more recent studies in other countries (particularly in Portugal) appear to confirm the observed trends. We constructed scales of autonomy in different dimensions. Only between 10 and 20 percent of the population, depending on dimensions, were in the high level of autonomy. But we focused on this active segment of the population to explore the role of the Internet in the construction of autonomy. Using factor analysis we identified six major types of autonomy based on projects of individuals according to their practices:

a) professional development
b) communicative autonomy
c) entrepreneurship
d) autonomy of the body
e) sociopolitical participation
f) personal, individual autonomy

These six types of autonomous practices were statistically independent among themselves. But each one of them correlated positively with Internet use in statistically significant terms, in a self-reinforcing loop (time sequence): the more one person was autonomous, the more she/he used the web, and the more she/he used the web, the more autonomous she/he became (Castells et al. 2007). This is a major empirical finding. Because if the dominant cultural trend in our society is the search for autonomy, and if the Internet powers this search, then we are moving toward a society of assertive individuals and cultural freedom, regardless of the barriers of rigid social organizations inherited from the Industrial Age. From this Internet-based culture of autonomy have emerged a new kind of sociability, networked sociability, and a new kind of sociopolitical practice, networked social movements and networked democracy. I will now turn to the analysis of these two fundamental trends at the source of current processes of social change worldwide.

The Rise of Social Network Sites on the Internet

Since 2002 (creation of Friendster, prior to Facebook) a new socio-technical revolution has taken place on the Internet: the rise of social network sites where now all human activities are present, from personal interaction to business, to work, to culture, to communication, to social movements, and to politics.

Social Network Sites are web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

(Boyd and Ellison 2007, 2)

Social networking uses, in time globally spent, surpassed e-mail in November 2007. It surpassed e-mail in number of users in July 2009. In terms of users it reached 1 billion by September 2010, with Facebook accounting for about half of it. In 2013 it has almost doubled, particularly because of increasing use in China, India, and Latin America. There is indeed a great diversity of social networking sites (SNS) by countries and cultures. Facebook, started for Harvard-only members in 2004, is present in most of the world, but QQ, Cyworld, and Baidu dominate in China; Orkut in Brazil; Mixi in Japan; etc. In terms of demographics, age is the main differential factor in the use of SNS, with a drop of frequency of use after 50 years of age, and particularly 65. But this is not just a teenager’s activity. The main Facebook U.S. category is in the age group 35–44, whose frequency of use of the site is higher than for younger people. Nearly 60 percent of adults in the U.S. have at least one SNS profile, 30 percent two, and 15 percent three or more. Females are as present as males, except when in a society there is a general gender gap. We observe no differences in education and class, but there is some class specialization of SNS, such as Myspace being lower than FB; LinkedIn is for professionals.

Thus, the most important activity on the Internet at this point in time goes through social networking, and SNS have become the chosen platforms for all kind of activities, not just personal friendships or chatting, but for marketing, e-commerce, education, cultural creativity, media and entertainment distribution, health applications, and sociopolitical activism. This is a significant trend for society at large. Let me explore the meaning of this trend on the basis of the still scant evidence.

Social networking sites are constructed by users themselves building on specific criteria of grouping. There is entrepreneurship in the process of creating sites, then people choose according to their interests and projects. Networks are tailored by people themselves with different levels of profiling and privacy. The key to success is not anonymity, but on the contrary, self-presentation of a real person connecting to real people (in some cases people are excluded from the SNS when they fake their identity). So, it is a self-constructed society by networking connecting to other networks. But this is not a virtual society. There is a close connection between virtual networks and networks in life at large. This is a hybrid world, a real world, not a virtual world or a segregated world.

People build networks to be with others, and to be with others they want to be with on the basis of criteria that include those people who they already know (a selected sub-segment). Most users go on the site every day. It is permanent connectivity. If we needed an answer to what happened to sociability in the Internet world, here it is:

There is a dramatic increase in sociability, but a different kind of sociability, facilitated and dynamized by permanent connectivity and social networking on the web.

Based on the time when Facebook was still releasing data (this time is now gone) we know that in 2009 users spent 500 billion minutes per month. This is not just about friendship or interpersonal communication. People do things together, share, act, exactly as in society, although the personal dimension is always there. Thus, in the U.S. 38 percent of adults share content, 21 percent remix, 14 percent blog, and this is growing exponentially, with development of technology, software, and SNS entrepreneurial initiatives. On Facebook, in 2009 the average user was connected to 60 pages, groups, and events, people interacted per month to 160 million objects (pages, groups, events), the average user created 70 pieces of content per month, and there were 25 billion pieces of content shared per month (web links, news stories, blogs posts, notes, photos). SNS are living spaces connecting all dimensions of people’s experience. This transforms culture because people share experience with a low emotional cost, while saving energy and effort. They transcend time and space, yet they produce content, set up links, and connect practices. It is a constantly networked world in every dimension of human experience. They co-evolve in permanent, multiple interaction. But they choose the terms of their co-evolution.

Thus, people live their physical lives but increasingly connect on multiple dimensions in SNS.

Paradoxically, the virtual life is more social than the physical life, now individualized by the organization of work and urban living.

But people do not live a virtual reality, indeed it is a real virtuality, since social practices, sharing, mixing, and living in society is facilitated in the virtuality, in what I called time ago the “space of flows” (Castells 1996).

Because people are increasingly at ease in the multi-textuality and multidimensionality of the web, marketers, work organizations, service agencies, government, and civil society are migrating massively to the Internet, less and less setting up alternative sites, more and more being present in the networks that people construct by themselves and for themselves, with the help of Internet social networking entrepreneurs, some of whom become billionaires in the process, actually selling freedom and the possibility of the autonomous construction of lives. This is the liberating potential of the Internet made material practice by these social networking sites. The largest of these social networking sites are usually bounded social spaces managed by a company. However, if the company tries to impede free communication it may lose many of its users, because the entry barriers in this industry are very low. A couple of technologically savvy youngsters with little capital can set up a site on the Internet and attract escapees from a more restricted Internet space, as happened to AOL and other networking sites of the first generation, and as could happen to Facebook or any other SNS if they are tempted to tinker with the rules of openness (Facebook tried to make users pay and retracted within days). So, SNS are often a business, but they are in the business of selling freedom, free expression, chosen sociability. When they tinker with this promise they risk their hollowing by net citizens migrating with their friends to more friendly virtual lands.

Perhaps the most telling expression of this new freedom is the transformation of sociopolitical practices on the Internet.

Communication Power: Mass-Self Communication and the Transformation of Politics

Power and counterpower, the foundational relationships of society, are constructed in the human mind, through the construction of meaning and the processing of information according to certain sets of values and interests (Castells 2009).

Ideological apparatuses and the mass media have been key tools of mediating communication and asserting power, and still are. But the rise of a new culture, the culture of autonomy, has found in Internet and mobile communication networks a major medium of mass self-communication and self-organization.

The key source for the social production of meaning is the process of socialized communication. I define communication as the process of sharing meaning through the exchange of information. Socialized communication is the one that exists in the public realm, that has the potential of reaching society at large. Therefore, the battle over the human mind is largely played out in the process of socialized communication. And this is particularly so in the network society, the social structure of the Information Age, which is characterized by the pervasiveness of communication networks in a multimodal hypertext.

The ongoing transformation of communication technology in the digital age extends the reach of communication media to all domains of social life in a network that is at the same time global and local, generic and customized, in an ever-changing pattern.

As a result, power relations, that is the relations that constitute the foundation of all societies, as well as the processes challenging institutionalized power relations, are increasingly shaped and decided in the communication field. Meaningful, conscious communication is what makes humans human. Thus, any major transformation in the technology and organization of communication is of utmost relevance for social change. Over the last four decades the advent of the Internet and of wireless communication has shifted the communication process in society at large from mass communication to mass self-communication. This is from a message sent from one to many with little interactivity to a system based on messages from many to many, multimodal, in chosen time, and with interactivity, so that senders are receivers and receivers are senders. And both have access to a multimodal hypertext in the web that constitutes the endlessly changing backbone of communication processes.

The transformation of communication from mass communication to mass self-communication has contributed decisively to alter the process of social change. As power relationships have always been based on the control of communication and information that feed the neural networks constitutive of the human mind, the rise of horizontal networks of communication has created a new landscape of social and political change by the process of disintermediation of the government and corporate controls over communication. This is the power of the network, as social actors build their own networks on the basis of their projects, values, and interests. The outcome of these processes is open ended and dependent on specific contexts. Freedom, in this case freedom of communicate, does not say anything on the uses of freedom in society. This is to be established by scholarly research. But we need to start from this major historical phenomenon: the building of a global communication network based on the Internet, a technology that embodies the culture of freedom that was at its source.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century there have been multiple social movements around the world that have used the Internet as their space of formation and permanent connectivity, among the movements and with society at large. These networked social movements, formed in the social networking sites on the Internet, have mobilized in the urban space and in the institutional space, inducing new forms of social movements that are the main actors of social change in the network society. Networked social movements have been particularly active since 2010, and especially in the Arab revolutions against dictatorships; in Europe and the U.S. as forms of protest against the management of the financial crisis; in Brazil; in Turkey; in Mexico; and in highly diverse institutional contexts and economic conditions. It is precisely the similarity of the movements in extremely different contexts that allows the formulation of the hypothesis that this is the pattern of social movements characteristic of the global network society. In all cases we observe the capacity of these movements for self-organization, without a central leadership, on the basis of a spontaneous emotional movement. In all cases there is a connection between Internet-based communication, mobile networks, and the mass media in different forms, feeding into each other and amplifying the movement locally and globally.

These movements take place in the context of exploitation and oppression, social tensions and social struggles; but struggles that were not able to successfully challenge the state in other instances of revolt are now powered by the tools of mass self-communication. It is not the technology that induces the movements, but without the technology (Internet and wireless communication) social movements would not take the present form of being a challenge to state power. The fact is that technology is material culture (ideas brought into the design) and the Internet materialized the culture of freedom that, as it has been documented, emerged on American campuses in the 1960s. This culture-made technology is at the source of the new wave of social movements that exemplify the depth of the global impact of the Internet in all spheres of social organization, affecting particularly power relationships, the foundation of the institutions of society. (See case studies and an analytical perspective on the interaction between Internet and networked social movements in Castells 2012.)

Conclusion

The Internet, as all technologies, does not produce effects by itself. Yet, it has specific effects in altering the capacity of the communication system to be organized around flows that are interactive, multimodal, asynchronous or synchronous, global or local, and from many to many, from people to people, from people to objects, and from objects to objects, increasingly relying on the semantic web. How these characteristics affect specific systems of social relationships has to be established by research, and this is what I tried to present in this text. What is clear is that without the Internet we would not have seen the large-scale development of networking as the fundamental mechanism of social structuring and social change in every domain of social life. The Internet, the World Wide Web, and a variety of networks increasingly based on wireless platforms constitute the technological infrastructure of the network society, as the electrical grid and the electrical engine were the support system for the form of social organization that we conceptualized as the industrial society. Thus, as a social construction, this technological system is open ended, as the network society is an open-ended form of social organization that conveys the best and the worse in humankind. Yet, the global network society is our society, and the understanding of its logic on the basis of the interaction between culture, organization, and technology in the formation and development of social and technological networks is a key field of research in the twenty-first century.

We can only make progress in our understanding through the cumulative effort of scholarly research. Only then we will be able to cut through the myths surrounding the key technology of our time. A digital communication technology that is already a second skin for young people, yet it continues to feed the fears and the fantasies of those who are still in charge of a society that they barely understand.

References

These references are in fact sources of more detailed references specific to each one of the topics analyzed in this text.

Abbate, Janet.
A Social History of the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

Boyd, Danah M., and Nicole B. Ellison.
“Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1 (2007).

Cardoso, Gustavo, Angus Cheong, and Jeffrey Cole (eds).
World Wide Internet: Changing Societies, Economies and Cultures. Macau: University of Macau Press, 2009.

Castells, Manuel.
The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. 3 vols. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996–2003.

———. The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

———. Communication Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

———. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012.

Castells, Manuel, Imma Tubella, Teresa Sancho, and Meritxell Roca.

La transición a la sociedad red. Barcelona: Ariel, 2007.

Hilbert, Martin, and Priscilla López.
“The World’s Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information.” Science 332, no. 6025 (April 1, 2011): pp. 60–65.

Papacharissi, Zizi, ed.
The Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Networking Sites. Routledge, 2010.

Rainie. Lee, and Barry Wellman.
Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.

Trajectory Partnership (Michael Willmott and Paul Flatters).
The Information Dividend: Why IT Makes You “Happier.” Swindon: British Informatics Society Limited, 2010. http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/info-dividend-full-report.pdf

Selected Web References.  Used as sources for analysis in the chapter

Agência para a Sociedade do Conhecimento.
“Observatório de Sociedade da Informação e do Conhecimento (OSIC).” http://www.umic.pt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3026&Itemid=167

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
“Features, Press and Policy.” http://www.bcs.org/category/7307

Center for the Digital Future.
The World Internet Project International Report. 4th ed. Los Angeles: USC Annenberg School, Center for the Digital Future, 2012. http://www.worldinternetproject.net/_files/_Published/_oldis/770_2012wip_report4th_ed.pdf

ESRC (Economic & Social Research Council).
“Papers and Reports.” Virtual Society. http://virtualsociety.sbs.ox.ac.uk/reports.htm

Fundación Orange.
“Análisis y Prospectiva: Informe eEspaña.” Fundación Orange. http://fundacionorange.es/fundacionorange/analisisprospectiva.html

Fundación Telefónica.
“Informes SI.” Fundación Telefónica. http://sociedadinformacion.fundacion.telefonica.com/DYC/SHI/InformesSI/seccion=1190&idioma=es_ES.do

IN3 (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute). UOC.
“Project Internet Catalonia (PIC): An Overview.” Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, 2002–07. http://www.uoc.edu/in3/pic/eng/

International Telecommunication Union.
“Annual Reports.” http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/sfo/annual_reports/index.html

Nielsen Company.
“Reports.” 2013. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/reports/2013.html?tag=Category:Media+ and+Entertainment

Oxford Internet Surveys.
“Publications.” http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/oxis/publications

Pew Internet & American Life Project.
“Social Networking.” Pew Internet. http://www.pewinternet.org/Topics/Activities-and-Pursuits/Social-Networking.aspx?typeFilter=5

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