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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #252: October 16, 2006

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society:
Volume 9, Number 4, August 2006

Online ISSN: 1468-4462, Print ISSN: 1369-118X


Trust in the Internet as an experience technology (pp433-451)
William H. Dutton (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, 1 St Giles', Oxford, OX1 3JS, UK) and Adrian Shepherd (Home Office, Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF, UK)

Trust in the Internet and related information and communication technologies – 'cybertrust' – could be critical to the successful development of 'e-services', such as e-government, e-commerce, e-learning and democratic participation in the rapidly expanding online public sphere. This paper explores trust in cyberspace based on an analysis of data from an Oxford Internet Survey conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute using a multi-stage, national probability sample in Great Britain. The paper highlights various perspectives on the meaning of trust and draws on findings from the Oxford Internet Survey to explore and refine key social determinants of cybertrust. Evidence from this research provides fresh insights into the factors shaping trust in the Internet, arguing that cybertrust, defined as a confident expectation, is influenced by experience, defined operationally by several indicators of proximity to the Internet, in ways shaped by educational background. The potential for using these results to better understand the role of trust on Internet use is addressed, as well as the more indirect implications for reinforcing digital divides.

Keywords: Trust, cybertrust, experience technology, information and communication technologies, social impact, Internet

Bridging the e-democracy gap in Portugal: MPs, ICTs and political mediation (pp452-472)
Gustavo Cardoso (ISCTE, Av. das Forcas Armadas, P-1649-026, Lisbon, Portugal ), Carlos Cunha (Department of Political Science, Dowling College, Oakdale, NY, 11769, USA), Susana Nascimento (ISCTE, Av. das Forcas Armadas, P-1649-026, Lisbon, Portugal)

This article analyses the communication practices of Portuguese Members of Parliament (MPs) and their views on the role that the Internet plays in a democratic system, followed by a discussion of the origins of what the authors label the e-democracy gap in Portugal. They counter several Deputies' beliefs that weak vertical communication between the elected and the electors result from the small number of Internet users, the weak participatory quality of the citizens and insufficient secretarial support. Because adaptation to the Internet must be viewed from a broader perspective, the authors demonstrate that not only are there varied examples of civic participation via the Internet between citizens and parliament, but that there is also an absorption of Internet use in the routines and management of parliamentary functions by many of those entrusted with those duties in the last two Portuguese legislatures. The authors' thesis is that the Internet, under the current methods of political institutional integration of the media, does not on its own enable an increase in public participation. Citizen political participation vis-à-vis democratic institutions such as parliament can be empowered by the Internet so long as representation and politicians' attitudes toward the public, and of the latter toward the former, change.

Keywords: E-democracy, Portugal, information and communication technologies, citizens, Members of Parliament, MPs, political mediation

Family characteristics and intergenerational conflicts over the Internet (pp473-495)
Gustavo S. Mesch (Oxford Internet Institute, 1 St Giles, Oxford University, Oxford, UK)

The rapid expansion of computer use and Internet connection has the potential to change patterns of family interaction, with conflicts arising over adolescents' autonomy, parental authority and control of the computer. This study applied a conceptual framework derived from family development and human ecology theory to investigate family characteristics related to the likelihood of such conflicts. A secondary analysis was conducted of a special survey of 754 children aged 12 to 17 who used the Internet, and of their parents, performed by Pew Internet and the American Life project. Adolescent–parent conflicts over Internet use proved strongly related to the perception that the adolescent was a computer expert. Families in which adolescents were considered experts in new technologies were more likely to experience conflicts. Parents' attempt to reduce adolescent autonomy by regulating the time of Internet use increased the likelihood of family arguments over the Internet. Intergenerational conflicts over the Internet were higher in families in which parents expressed concern over the potentially negative consequences of Internet use. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: Youth, technology adoption, family, Internet, Internet effects

The cult of Champ Man: the culture and pleasures of Championship Manager/Football Manager gamers (pp496-514)
Garry Crawford (ESPaCH (sociology), University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK)

This paper considers the popularity and social significance of the gaming series Championship Manager/Football Manager. Sport-related games continue to be one of the most popular forms of digital gaming, and the series has proved to be one of the most successful of all time. Drawing on 32 interviews with game players and developers of this series, this paper argues that this series has proved particularly popular due to its 'intertextual' links to the sport of football, which allows this game to be drawn on as a resource in conversations and social networks. In particular, this paper argues that aspects of gaming, such as performativity and control, extend and cross-cut with wider social formations. Hence, the author argues that it is crucial that considerations of digital games seek to locate these within wider social and cultural patterns.

Keywords: Digital games, everyday life, football, performativity, sport

'Laying a foundation of fact': Fabianism and the information society thesis (pp515-536)
Alistair S. Duff (School of Creative Industries, Napier University, Craighouse Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5LG, UK)

This article explores affinities between postindustrialism and modes of thinking characteristic of the Fabian Society, especially in the first half of the twentieth century. In the hands of Daniel Bell and others, the information society thesis postulates the coming of a postindustrial society marked by the centrality of information and knowledge. While caveats abound in Bell's version, the thesis has been generally optimistic in outlook, portraying postindustrial society as an advanced level of social development. Interestingly, the Fabian Society, a British-based organization highly influential in the twentieth-century project of social democracy, also emphasized information in its advocacy of social progress: 'laying a foundation of fact', according to one commentator, was a key ingredient of the Fabian approach. Texts by thinkers such as Sidney Webb and H.G. Wells suggest that 'informationalism', a commitment to information in an original sense of hard facts and figures, must indeed be construed as the essence of Fabianism, as that which distinguishes the Fabians from more metaphysical or emotional expressions of socialism. The article traces the link between information-powered politics and the largely successful practice of social engineering in Britain. However, social engineering can, and in the case of some Fabians did, degenerate into a technocratic and even totalitarian mindset. Critiques of Fabianism are therefore also acknowledged here, including those claiming that the Fabian preoccupation with data-gathering and filing, its 'proceduralism', actually constituted a major weakness. However, given its noble informational ideal, Fabianism can, the article concludes, illuminate contemporary information society problems. The Fabian tradition contains suggestive materials on such topical themes as fair access to information, the role of facts in progressive politics, and the prospects for an international institutional order.

Keywords: Postindustrialism, Fabian Society, social democracy, internationalism, information policy

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