Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society: Volume 8, Number 4, December 2005
Online ISSN: 1468-4462, Print ISSN: 1369-118X
Making sense of the information age:
Sociology and Cultural Studies (pp439-458)
Frank Webster (Department of Sociology, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0HB, UK)
This article traces the development in Britain of research on information and communications in relation to trends in Sociology and this discipline's relations with Cultural Studies. It observes at the outset the seminal contribution of Daniel Bell's conception of Post-Industrial Society, characterizing it as blending theory with empirical observation while providing an account of the most consequential features of change. Sociology in the UK during the 1980s largely ignored macro-level analysis and focused on work and employment, took its starting point as opposition to the technological determinism associated with this first wave enthusiasm for the 'microelectronics revolution', and produced localized and textured studies. Manuel Castells' conception of the Network Society, while distinctive, signalled a return to the scale and scope offered by Bell, notably in being a macro analysis that combined theory and empirical evidence. Castells' contribution coincided with a second wave of technological enthusiasm associated especially with the Internet. Alongside this Sociology in Britain has experienced the rise of Cultural Studies, a field that has competed for important parts of what might have been considered Sociology's terrain. Indeed, Cultural Studies has outpaced Sociology in response to recent changes in the information domain. Its emergence expressed little concern with technological determinism, embracing 'virtuality' and being more open to the exploration of expanding culture. Nonetheless, Cultural Studies remains methodologically flawed while, like so much sociological research on ICTs and information, seemingly incapable of combining theory and empirical evidence that identify and explain the major contours of change.
Keywords: Information Age, Information Society, Sociology, Cultural Studies
Information technology, networks and community voices:
Social inclusion for urban regeneration (pp482-502)
Jan Fernback (Department of Broadcasting Telecommunications and Mass Media, Temple University, Annenberg Hall Rm. 6, 2020 N 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19122–6080, USA)
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have altered the form and structure of urban centres across the globe. Scholars suggest that hybrid spaces of electronic networks and urban sites herald the future of city planning, representing a fluidity of material place and cyberspace that transforms patterns of city life. This project examines the regenerative capabilities of ICTs in decaying urban neighbourhoods that link virtual networks of community participation and expression with the physical presence of community media centres. Using symbolic interactionism and qualitative interviews, this research suggests that inner-city residents find ICTs to be a key element in neighbourhood and community revitalization. Overall, this research considers the notion that ICTs are integral components of contemporary urban planning.
Keywords: community, information, symbolic interactionism, ICT
Socioeconomic implications of broadband services:
Information economy in Korea (pp503-523)
Dal Yong Jin (University of Illinois at Chicago, 1904 Nancy Ct#10, Champaign, IL, 61822, USA)
Korea has shown rapid growth in the development of broadband services over the last several years. The Korean government and business have developed broadband services as a new business model, and the country has emerged as the world's undisputed leader in broadband services. Many media scholars, government telecom officials and information technology (IT) experts around the world are interested in how Korea has so quickly embraced broadband technology. They are also enthusiastic about seeing the fulfilment of their own vision of the information economy through the example of broadband service in Korea. This article explores key aspects of broadband services in Korea and its implications for the information economy. It examines why and how Korea has developed broadband service by examining several institutional factors. It also analyses whether government ICT policy frameworks have contributed to economic and social development. Then, it investigates how the government neoliberal economic policies have influenced the transnationalization of the broadband service market and the impact on the information economy.
Keywords: broadband services, information economy, ICT policies, transnationalization, broadband service providers
The shaping of electronic service delivery:
Introducing online services in British social housing (pp524-541)
Nicholas Pleace (The Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK)
This paper considers the current literature on electronic service delivery in the light of the findings of a qualitative research project examining the implementation of online services in British social housing. The paper adds to existing evidence that the nature of electronic service delivery is heavily influenced by the agencies that introduce it and by the context in which it occurs. The shape of electronic service delivery in social housing was found to be heavily influenced by the high complexity of transactions between social landlords and tenants, and by the ethos of some social landlords. The research also suggested there was a broad consensus between social landlords and tenants with regard to the practical limits of online services. However, the development of this form of electronic service delivery was occurring in a situation in which influence was unevenly divided between the various parties involved.
Keywords: electronic service delivery, electronic government, e-government
Cyberscience: Modelling ICT-induced changes of the scholarly communication system (pp542-560)
Michael Nentwich (Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Strohgasse 45/5, A – 1030, Vienna, Austria)
The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is changing science and research. This paper focuses on the complex process of change of the scholarly communication system and how on we may explain the differences of ICT use among research fields. The author submits a heuristic model of change that sets ICT initially as an independent variable and systematizes a series of intervening variables. He distinguishes between institutional, functional/technical and actor-related factors that contribute to our overall understanding of the path of academe towards 'cyberscience'. It turns out that the ICT-induced development and hence the differences between research specialities cannot be explained by a small, parsimonious set of factors. The resulting picture is one of multiple causation with a strong emphasis on cultural aspects.
Keywords: Information and communication technologies, academe, science and research, scholarly communication system, Internet, cyberscience
(This journal is available online: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/1369118x.html)
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