9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 New Online Media Professionals Building AA, AA.325

Eastern European Internet Networks and the Reception of Social Theory Trends and Topics; on some American and European master topics

In this paper I raise the issue of whether the patterns of emergence and circulation of social theoretical ideas have been fundamentally altered by the emergence of Internet. While some institutions have been a constant transmission belt for concepts or theories, like the universities, other forms have faded, like one-to-one correspondence, and still others have emerged, like the internet groups; that represent the many-to-many type of information transmission and sharing. The potential of transmitting new data and ideas has been technologically enhanced in the last years in Europe. Nevertheless, the issue that I want to address refers to the potential of these Internet groups to generate new structured social theory. On a first glance, it is rather that circulation of ideas is enhanced by thematic groups, rather than the emergence of new ones. The site of generation of sound social theoretical ideas is still somewhere else; thus what has emerged in the last years is rather the democratization of sharing, than the democratization of production.
In the second part of the paper I attempt at illustrating with some theoretical topics that have made their way to Eastern Europe in the last two decades, either from Europe, but more soundly from the United States: like ?nationalism?, ?migration?, ?ethnic minorities? and the way they have been taken over by young scholars of the region in order to fit in the real life networks of conferences and research grants. The potential for generating new topics has been fairly low in the region, the choices ahead being either of embracing the already set agenda, or to occupy a marginal position in the on-going process.
I believe that the network society theorized by Manuel Castells and its flat perspective of networks and nodes has explanatory power in terms of the circulation of ideas, but not on their generation. It might be hypothesized that the agenda-setting effect of classic media holds its accuracy well into the new media. Thus, media old and new does not necessarily impose what to think but what to think about, including the main topics and approaches of social sciences.