Brief for Independent Disciplinary Review   1 comment

Posted at 10:46 pm in Economics,Sociology


The Web has been always studied as a technology. The features of it usually are associated with technology invention rather than evaluating its value in the market. For example, people want to press their blogs and contribute to the Wikipedia without any money returns, which are considered as a social activity. That is true. However, how to transfer this activity into real market to make profit should be considered as well.

The issue I want to address in this module is to find out how to measure the value of user-generated content and also the valuable assets in the Semantic Web, which is one of the open questions in the economist’s view of Web Science. The Web has been changing without a break since it was released in the world. It changes from a system to publish information into a platform in which people can edit and publish their contents freely and easily. One of the reasons that bring this change within the Web is coming from Web 2.0, especially the user-generated feature of Web 2.0. Although it is the freeness and openness that promotes people to participate in the content construction with a great enthusiasm, it does not mean that the nature is to generate contents only. However, there should be a market to make these activities valuable. Consequently, how to dig out the element of economic stimulus and at the same time without losing the passion of people to build those contents is becoming a question to be studied in further researches. Moreover, the next generation Web visibly tends to be the Semantic Web which will integrate information and supply intelligent services through intelligent agents rather than artificially. The value therefore will not only come from the services, but also stay in the mechanism and the intelligences on the Web. So it is worth digging out the value of the Semantic Web and transferring it into the society and the market as well.


There are two disciplines in this research which are economics and sociology. The main focus of this research is standing in the economic point of view to measure the economic value of the Web. Therefore, it is very necessary to do research in economic aspect. Meanwhile, as economics cannot be applied without the society, it is helpful to combine the sociology with economics to get deep understanding about it. The sociology is based on the whole society to understand the structure, function and the law of development of our society through studying the social relations and social behaviors. Due to the enlarging influence of the Web, the social relations and social behaviors have been changed correspondingly. Consequently, by studying the nature of society and the changes caused by the Web, we can sufficiently to understand the society in nowadays and the development tendency, catching the insight to apply on the economic analysis.

    Current Reading List

Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw , Mark P. Taylor

This book is about the basic concept of economics. It will help to understand how the economy works in the society.

Innovation Management and New Product Development by Dr Paul Trott

It is a useful book for transferring the technology into the real market. It is also used in the innovation module to help find a suitable way to connect different disciplines from technology aspect to the management aspect. The most important part is to tell us how to apply the new technology within the real market to improve the society.

Sociology Work and Industry by Tony J. Watson

This book describes how the discipline of sociology are understood and used in industry aspect. In the book, what is sociology is explained first and then connected with the industry to give wider understanding.

Understanding Classical Sociology by John A. Hughes, Wes W.Sharrock, Peter J. Martin

Written by ch9e09 on February 19th, 2010

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One Response to 'Brief for Independent Disciplinary Review'

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  1. You have clear statement of a problem here in this first blog, and I would suggest you might want to refine it to ask how does (some) sociology and (some) economics help answer the question of measuring the value of user generated content. As you note in your post on 26th Feb within sociology there are a number of ways of thinking – the grid you posted is just one way of dividing up the discipline – and these taxonomies are only useful if they help us solve problems. Be aware that other books/commentators will divide up the discipline in different ways.
    It is often useful to go back to the classics – the so called ‘founding fathers’ of the disclipline – and I guess that is what the Hughes book will give you, but you might want to focus rather than trying to cover hundreds of years in this module – so for example, given that we have had a conversation about your previous understanding of Marxism /critical structuralism – could you use the Hughes book to help you understand the idea of value in Marx’s theorising versus how Max Weber might think about it? or how Marx’s ideas have been challenged by more recent social science? As an example a core part of Marx’s theorising is that capitalism exists on the back of surplus value (the difference between the value of the work and the value of the product). So how does user generated content threaten /challenge this. Is there any way for capitalism to exploit user generated content?
    or…to take another direction Weber thought that (unlike Marx) social position /class was not only determined by the work you did (your role in production) but also by things like status and political power – how might a Weberian sociologist use these ideas to explain the ‘value’ of user generated content?
    I would suggest that in addition to the reading list you have assembled you should refer to one of the more general introductory sociology text books (e.g. Giddens or Bilton et al – ask your classmates whihc ones they are using) just to help you get/grasp some of the more general ideas alongside this more detailed /specialised reading.

    Catherine Pope

    14 Mar 10 at 2:41 pm

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