Contributions to a sociology of the Internet : a case study of the use of the Internet in the Republic of Croatia in the 1990s
Within the humanities and social sciences there are a variety of approaches for the study of the Internet. Through the use of a case study of the operation of the Internet in The Republic of Croatia during the 1990s, this thesis contributes to a position that regards sociological or 'culturalist' concerns as significant as 'formalist' concerns. The thesis is divided into three sections; the first section examines the socio-political construction of the Internet in contemporary academic and journalistic discourse. Attention is paid to the following: the broad theoretical understandings of the relationship of technology and society, the way in which the Internet is thought to be different from older forms of mass media, the assumed political potency of the Internet and how such conceptions are understood in terms of their integration into broader political perspectives. The second section deals with the use of the Internet in the Republic of Croatia during the 1990s. Attention is paid to the history of the Internet in Croatia and its political use is examined. The degree to which the Internet functioned as an effective counter to the dominant hegemonic discourse is found to be negligible when compared to old media that were operating in 'such a fashion. The explanation offered shows how the Internet and other forms of computer-mediated communication offers forms of communication that may not be best suited for the debates that were occurring in Croatia at that time. The third section explores how media forms are strongly linked to social forms. The Internet is conceptualised as a media form that is dependent upon a number of requirements for its full political potential to be made evident. It is concluded that attention should be placed upon both the interrelatedness of society, media technology and form of action studied, and the ways in which such concepts are socially constructed.