Archive for the ‘Sociology’ tag

E-democracy and the Web – More on Sociology   1 comment

Posted at 7:34 pm in Sociology

After careful consideration, I have decided to revise my reading list as follows:


Sociology – John J. Macionis

Sociology – Anthony Giddens

Political Science:

Introduction to Politics – Robert Garner, Peter Ferdinand & Stephanie Lawson

An introduction to Politics, State and  Society – James W. McAuley

It may be necessary to read some more specific textbooks, especially for Politics. In this case, they will be referenced in future posts.

For the past week, I continued my reading as planned, by moving from basic concepts of sociology to those more relevant to the subject of e-democracy. I used both books from my reading plan, but concentrated more on the book by Macionis, while using the book by Giddens as secondary reference.

Despite of what I had decided last week, I read more on social stratification, the hierarchical ranking of categories of individuals within a society. I was interested in the social class system, as this is the common form of stratification in modern democratic societies, which have been interested to adopt e-democracy.

By applying the different theoretical approaches on the subject of social stratification, one can reach contradicting conclusions about its nature and causes. Marx has suggested that in a capitalist society, the ruling class owns the means of production and uses the working class’ labour to amass more wealth. This class structure is reproduced in each generation and that produces a corrupt and unfair society. On the other hand, Weber, while agreeing with Marx that stratification causes conflicts, he argues that economic inequality is only one of the factors that cause it, along with status and power. While Marx has considered social stratification as something harmful to society, the Davies-Moore thesis states the opposite: by offering greater rewards for important work, there is more motivation and efficiency than in a completely egalitarian society.

When plotting the average degree of stratification throughout human history, the Kuznets curve appears. While after the industrial revolution there was a tendency for less stratification, postmodern societies have exhibited a reverse trend, and that is shown by the curve. The question about whether the Web plays a role in this trend is important. There is also the matter of whether stratification exists inside the online societies. Both these questions are relevant to e-democracy.

After reading about social stratification, I had to read about Politics. However, in order to organise my posts in a better way, I will post the politics subjects in separate posts, while continuing to write about sociology and the subjects of collective action and social movements.

I started reading about collective behaviour, concentrating on the concepts that are relevant to e-democracy. Public opinion, which is widespread attitude around a controversial issue and propaganda, information presented in a way to influence public opinion, are two important concepts as they have been often observed in an online context.

A social movement is an organised activity in favour or against social change. Social movements are perhaps the most influential forms of collective behaviour, as they shape societies. There are four types of social movements as shown below:

There are various theories about what causes social movements. Deprivation theory, which claims that those deprived of something (income, insurance etc) organise in movements towards the goal of improving their condition. Mass-society theory suggests that people organise in order to gain a sense of belonging and importance. Structural strain theory identifies six factors that influence the development of social movements. Resource-mobilisation theory suggests that for a movement to succeed, substantial resources are needed and without them it will fail. Culture theory, that responds that people not only organise for material gains but also around cultural symbols. Marxist political-economy theory emphasises the failure of capitalism to meet the needs of the majority as the cause of movements. New social movements theory has been developed to interpret recent movements that do not target economic issues, but try to improve our social and environmental surroundings. No single theory can explain all types of movements, but in conjunction they can offer useful insights.

The tendency of movements to become increasingly global, without doubt, can be at least partially  attributed to the Web. As information flows easier and in larger volume, it is only natural that previously local matters become global. Social movements on the Web are as influential for e-government as offline movements for traditional democracy.

Even conservative and small scale adoption of e-democracy can lead to (or perhaps has already led to) social change. The process of social change has certain characteristics: it happens constantly, most often than not unplanned (the Web being one such example), can be controversial and not all changes are equally important. There are many causes for change: culture, ideas, social conflict and even demographic reasons. A central and recurring theme when studying social change is modernity, the social patterns arising from industrialisation. The process of modernisation has transformed societies in various ways. Progress has been considered good at all times and stability has been a synonym of stagnation. Postmodernists have criticised this way of thinking, but it is still an ongoing debate. Whether the Web will create postmodern societies in the way that industrial revolution led to the modern era, remains to be seen.

As I read more about Sociology, it became apparent that the lines between Political Science begun to blur. For the next weeks, beginning with the basics of Political Science, I will try to gain an interdisciplinary viewpoint to some of the issues already discussed, as well as to others relevant to e-democracy.

Written by el3e09 on March 7th, 2010

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Affiliation, social loafing, collective phenomenon of deindividuation   1 comment

Posted at 11:07 pm in Psychology,Sociology

As planned I have spent this week reading Social Psychology, 5th Edition, S. Brehm et al, and I found to be a good introductory textbook on the subject.

We will start by defining a group as a set of individuals having at least one of these characteristics:
(1) direct interactions with others over a period of time
(2) joint membership in a social category based on sex, race or other attributes
(3) a shared common fate, identity or set of goals.

This set of characteristics should be sufficient to define a group in offline and online world, and by understanding characteristics it should allow us to see that groups can be as little as two people or over 1000 as long as they satisfy one of the above criteria. The interesting thing I would like to look at is why people choose the particulat groups they want to be part of and be affiliated with.
The need for affiliation -is a social motivation, humans are drawn to each other. Everyone has a different strength of need for affiliation and they will be motivated to set up a optimum balance of social contact, sometimes wanting company of others and sometimes wanting to be alone. Affiliation can also satisfy other needs such as: attention, stimulation, information and emotional support.
Affiliation is a necessary first step in forming a social relationship. I wrote in my last blog about social facilitation and will now add that being in presence of others can lead to increased arousal and increases an individuals tendency to make a dominant response. This dominant  response is the reaction elicited most quickly and easily by a stimulus. Usually dominant response will only be successful / correct whenever task they must respond to is easy or they are well practiced at doing it. This means that in presence of others, a person who is well practiced can perform at their best when aroused by presence of pthers and the opposite is also true. People need presence of other people – to celebrate, share news, commiserate, learn from or just chat. People can also be at their best, or worse when in a groups. Through groups individuals can form communities that can pool resources and share in success, and it is through groups frustration can turn into mob violence, conflicts turn into wars. Most big decisions are made by groups such as governments, businesses and other organisations that and we don’t imagine such decisions being left to any individual. By working in a group people can produce great performances or achievements – such as orchestra concert or ballet performance. Conversely groups working against each other can lead to violence, death and destruction. While this book on social psychology deals mainly with physical “real-world” groups I found most of the ideas could equally be applied to online groups. Online groups have made some good collective achievements such as wikipedia, open source software, or annotating free maps, but they also have led to flame wars, and denial of service attacks.
One other key theme that kept re-occuring when I was researching existing online communities was that they can come to an end or be destroyed – in many cases Spam has been cited as a contributing factor.

social loafing: describes the reduction in individual output on easy tasks where contributions are pooled in a group. The example the book gives is that studies have shown people do not cheer louder or clap harder with increasing group sizes, instead individual contribution becomes less, social loafing phenomenon.
This ties in neatly with the collective effort model which asserts that individuals work harder on a collective task when they believe their efforts will help achieve an outcome they personally value.
Some of studies of social psychology have highlighted some troubling effects of presence of others – chiefly deindividuation, that often leads to a person losing control. The book did mention that people may be motivated if there is the possibility of being evaluated. In the offline world it could take careful observation of individuals within a group to accurately evaluate their contribution, whereas in online groups most interactions are facilitated by technology, can be recorded and made instantly available. This could then be quickly analysed and simple evaluation of an individuals activity and contributions could be presented to the group and could act as deterrent to social loafing.

Deindividuation is a persons loss of individuality and reduction in normal constrainst on deviant behaviour, and most most investigators found this phenomenon to only occurs in the presence of others. They found that arousal, anonymity, and reduced feelings of responsibility together contribute to de-individuation. When reading this I particularly thought that online groups are at more risk of deviant behaviour occuring since Internet provides instantly two contributing factors: anonymity and feelings of reduced responsibility.

Finally, one of main questions I wanted to review was why join a group? Social psychology gives several reasons such as it provides affiliation, protection or sense of security. Also fro reasons of social status and identity, Some simply join because they like members and want to interact with them. Usually people will join because they are optimistic about the benefits they will get from belonging to a particular group, and one of main reasons people leave or disengage from activities whithin a group is when the benefits don’t outweigh the costs.

Next week I will focus on roles within groups, and the outputs of groups.

Written by cm7e09 on March 5th, 2010

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The Meaning of Work in Society   no comments

Posted at 6:38 pm in Sociology

This week I am still reading and studying the basic concepts of sociology and the essential element in the society.


According to the author, work can be considered as ‘the carrying out of tasks which enable people to make a living within the environment in which they find themselves’. In the real world, human beings are different from any other animal as they can work to deal with the problems arising from the scarcity of resources in the environment. Therefore, it can be seen clearly work gives the identity to human beings and it is one of the essential elements for people to form society.  However, the notion of ‘making a living’ does not only show that the aim of working is to produce the material products to guarantee the physical survival. In fact, the ‘making a living’ is mentioning both the material and the cultural aspects of people’s existence.

Let us move on to the virtual society, Web. As the book mentioned above, work is an essential element to tell human beings from any other animal and form the human society. Then, how about the virtual society? Is work still important for people to live in the virtual world? The answer is absolutely yes. Although in the environment, physical survival is no longer a problem for people. But they still need to work in the social networking to be bound up with their conception of self. In this manner, work has the same meaning for people to live either in the real society or in the virtual society. For my issue, user-generated content in the social networking is a kind of work for people in some extent. People write the blog or twitter as a way in which they can be self-identified. Therefore, there easily will be a motivation for people ongoing to do such job online.

It is another important aspect for the aim of work. In this book, Culture is ‘The system of meanings which are shared by members of a human grouping and which define what is good and bad, right and wrong and what are the appropriate ways for members of that grouping to think and behave.‘  There is no difference in culture between online society and real society. People in the world are seeking to deal with the same issue about the problems of human existence wherever it happened in virtual world or real. There are still the same existential problems in both societies: the meanings of death; the nature of obligation; the character of love. Good thing is that in the virtual society, people can be provided an extensive environment to express and discuss.  Moreover, it is a nice place to engage people.

This week I have studied an important element within society that is work. The meaning of work for people is given and connected with the virtual society, finding out the common things.

The book is Sociology work and industry by Tony J.Watson

Written by ch9e09 on March 5th, 2010

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Online Identity – Third Post   1 comment

Posted at 11:52 pm in Criminology,Sociology

Criminology Focus:

Following last week’s revised Brief, as the literature review has solely been focused on Sociology, it seemed appropriate that the focus this week was turned to Criminology.

This Week’s Achievements:

Last week I aimed to obtain three specific books; however, although I do intend to read all of the recommended textbooks, I decided this week to focus on:

Jewkes, Y. and Yar, M, (eds) ‘Handbook of Internet Crime,’ (Willan Publishing, Devon, 2010)

This textbook is extremely insightful into how the Web has impacted on individuals’ digital expression of their identity. Furthermore, how this may facilitate crime.

Chapter 14 – Smith, R.G, ‘Identity Theft and Fraud’ is particularly relevant, as Smith proposes that “arguably, one of the most pressing financial crime problems that has faced developed societies in recent years – namely the commission of crime through the creation and use of misleading and deceptive identities.” (p273) Therefore, this chapter covers a range of issues relating to identity that has been facilitated by the Web, from the possibility that Avatars can commit virtual crimes untraceable in the real-word, to identity theft – particularly on social networking sites.

Alongside this I thought it would also be useful to obtain some textbooks that are centred on the methodology that underpins the discipline of Criminology.

1) Harrison, J, Harrison, O, Martin, E. and Simpson, M, ‘Study Skills for Criminology,’ (SAGE Publications, London, 2005)

This book was written by academic criminologists targeting people considering or enrolled on an undergraduate degree in Criminology, to enable them to better understand what the course entails and its general requirements. Some areas covered, such as examination strategies are obviously irrelevant to this review; however the book does provide some important insights into the main study skills involved.

2) Babbie, E. and Maxfield, M, G, ‘Basics of Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology,’ (Thompson: Wadsworth, Canada, 2006)

This book is useful as it offers a different view of the methodology used by criminologists, as it is written for individuals undertaking research in the discipline. Therefore, it explains how the elements of ‘Criminal Justice Enquiry’ work, including references to: how data may be collected; how data may be modelled; where criminological theory fits in; and survey research.

Next Week’s Aims:

It would be interesting next week to also find textbooks that are focused on explaining the methodologies that sociologists utilise in their research. Furthermore, reading the other two recommended textbooks is also a priority.

Written by Laura German on March 4th, 2010

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E-democracy and the Web – Sociology basics and relevant concepts   no comments

Posted at 5:10 am in Politics,Sociology

In an effort to organise my reading in a practical way, and keeping in mind that the disciplines of Sociology and Political Sciences may overlap, at least in the context of e-democracy, I have decided to start from the core principles of Sociology and then go on to more complex concepts.

The book that I have been reading this week is Sociology by John J. Macionis. As the title suggests it is an introductory textbook to Sociology. It is a well written textbook, up to date and quite successful, at least judging from the fact that I am using its eleventh edition.

Despite having already been in contact with some terms, principles and methods of Sociology (through the Foundations of Web Science module), I decided to go through them again and in more depth. So I read about the theoretical approaches that are used such as the structural-functional approach, the social-conflict approach and the symbolic-interaction approach. The book has a great example on how to use these approaches and also has a paragraph for each that serves as a critical review. These will be quite useful if I will need to apply theories during my analysis of e-democracy.

But besides the three theoretical approaches, there are also three methodological orientations when doing sociological research: scientific sociology, interpretive sociology and critical sociology. There are also various methodologies, which I already came to know through the Research Methods Group Project module.  Although it is not necessary to read research papers for the purpose of this module, been able to understand how sociologists work may be helpful in getting a general understanding of their discipline.

After reading the introductory chapters, reading about Society was the obvious way to continue. What I found particularly relevant, was the concept of socio-cultural evolution (Nolan & Lenski, 2004) that describes how societies change due to technological changes, which obviously is what the Web is doing to our society. After this, the book presents the 3 great sociologists of the past: Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Their (sometimes conflicting) analysis of modern societies roughly corresponds to the three theoretical approaches mentioned before. Concepts like capitalism, rationalisation, alienation and anomie were introduced.

Between the individual and the society, stand various groups and organisations. The groups that are relevant to e-democracy (such as political organisations) are mainly secondary groups, that is groups that their members have relationships that are often short term and usually less close and broad than in primary groups (such as families). Moreover, they are also based on the pursuit of a common goal. Group leadership and group conformity are two important factors affecting the operation of groups.

A more formal type of secondary group is a formal organisation. Normative organisations, that is organisations that their members have joined to pursue a morally worthwhile goal, are the organisations of most interest, as these include both political parties and voluntary political organisations, both instrumental to e-democracy. Organisational models are discussed, with an emphasis on bureaucracy, with its shortcomings such as alienation stressed. Modern democracies seem to suffer from such shortcomings and these are some of the problems that e-democracy may solve.

I briefly read about social stratification and social class as I believe that they will be necessary for my subsequent understanding of Political Science principles. Although I continued reading about Politics and Government (from a sociologist’s viewpoint) and to keep this post simple, I will add this section to next week’s post or incorporate it in a post about Political Science. For the following week, my reading priorities will be the chapters about social change, collective behaviour and social movements. I may also start reading about Political Science basics.

Written by el3e09 on February 27th, 2010

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Emotions organise our activities, and how Postmodernism and Urbanisation have changed the social landscape   no comments

Posted at 8:29 pm in Psychology,Sociology

As part of my review I have been reading the book: “psychology”, 3rd ed. G. N. Martin et al, and this week concentrated one of the main branches of psychology: social psychology.

Some of key areas of social psychology fall within 4 issues:

leadership: where someone tries to influence the whole group.

conformity: several group members encourage others to adopt a particular attitude.

obedience: when authority figure tries to make someone comply with  their demands.

prejudice: where attitudes of one group influence behaviour towards another group.

As well as these four issues there was another large theory that has been well established in branch of social psychology:

Social facilitation: process of behaviour change as a result of being in presence of others

Another theory was that emotions organise our activities. They tell us what we want to do or do not want, and importantly emotions can function as motives. e.g. a distressed child will seek comfort and security or cry for help, and mostly people seek to be close to those they love. Extrapolating from this textbook example, I believe emotions can act as motives for why we seek to join or be part of groups, perhaps for same reasons, as well as many more than cited in the example. There are two types of emotions: primary motives to satisfy basic needs and secondary motives such as friendship, power, and fame are acquired or learned needs. At this stage I am outlining this as one possible hypothesis: that emotions drive or make up part of our motives for joining and participating in groups.

Additional ideas from psychology that may be relevant to outlining factors as to why we join and participate in activities are the two contrasting theories to illustrate motivation: homeostatic drive and goal theory.

Homeostatic drive theory: an action is driven by a sense of imbalance and continues until the balance is restored.

Goal theory: key to some one’s motivation is what they are consciously trying to do: their goal.

As part of  my review of sociology literature I looked at “introductory sociology”, 4th ed. tony bilton et al.

Of interest was the line “the Internet has enhanced the potential for shared experiences, and increased the immediacy with which a wide variety of information can be disseminated”.  If this is true then perhaps further reading of other material may show that shared experiences are cohesive factor for joining and staying in a group, and perhaps online societies facilitate this better than offline groups.

One key theme was Urbanisation and how it affected the social and physical environment. A shift from a close-knit community , personal and stable relationships between friends and neighbours, and based on clear understanding of social position to associations based on transition, instrumental relationships that were specific to a particular setting and purpose and did not involve whole person. I understood this to mean that there was a change in the relationships and structure of groups, from close knit,  personal, stable groups with clear hierarchies, to groups which were disjointed,  impersonal, transitional and with no clear heirachy.

Another key theme relevant to social groups was: Living in Post modernity; that Since 1970s’ new social trends have prompted some commentators to suggest a great Transformation is underway, heralding an area of post modernity. What does this mean? At its most extreme, individuals are no longer ‘unified subjects’ they no longer possess fixed, stable and coherent identities, but an increasingly composed of fragmented, multiple and often contradictory identities. This forces us to (re) evaluate social development and our place in them.

This theme re-enforces what I found last week, that the fragmented postmodern young generation of both Eastern and Western Societies were each searching for a new collective self, perhaps reason why there is such a growing ad diverse range of groups online, to satisfy this market of indiviuals looking for collective self.

Actions for next week:

Read an introductory textbook on social psychology, this branch of psychology appears most relevant to my review.

Look at individual actors, roles and personalities often found within groups.

Document any sociological factors that influence groups such as languages and culture.

Written by cm7e09 on February 26th, 2010

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Online Identity – Second Post   no comments

Posted at 4:21 pm in Criminology,Sociology

Revised Brief:

This week I have revised my original Brief to observe the concept of ‘online identity’ from both a sociological and criminological perspective. Unfortunately, there was little information to be found on this area from a political view, thus this subject has been discounted.

The area of Criminology poses very interesting research questions in regards to the concept of online identity. In particular how anonymity online could be potentially used by individuals perpetuating criminal activities. This varies from individuals pretending to be reputable organisations, perhaps asking for bank details or other personal information; to sex offenders being able to use particular online identities, different from their real-world self, to groom children. How criminals may manipulate and use online identity is quite fascinating.

This Week’s Achievements:

This week I have focused my reading on two Sociology textbooks:

1)      Sassen, S, ‘A Sociology of Globalization’ (W.W. Norton & Company Inc, London, 2007)

This book, although not particularly relevant to the concept of online identity, was useful when considering how the Web has affected society on a global scale; perhaps helping to underpin the concept of globalisation. However, this book is also valuable in illustrating the basic principles of sociological methodology, which seems in this instance to be built upon different studies and statistics produced by a variety of sociologists in a particular area.

2)      Nunes, M, ‘Cyberspaces of Everyday Life,’ ( University of Minnesota Press, London, 2002)

This book offers a socio-cultural view on the Web and various aspects of online identity. From how identity is used in online e-Learning, such as the University of Phoenix, where many individuals use pseudonyms instead of real names; to websites that seems to allow the expression of one part of a user’s identity, such as a parenting website. Nunes argues on this parenting website users’ identity does not seem to go beyond the realms that they are parents, anything else about identity is irrelevant. Furthermore, this book offers interesting insights into how online identity may be free from: gender, race, sexuality and social-class, and how in turn this may impact on social interaction.

Next Week’s Aims:

After contacting the School of Social Sciences in regards to issues surrounding the concept of identity on the Web, the following textbooks were kindly recommended:

  1. Muncie et al, ‘Criminological Perspectives’ (2nd edit.,) – used at level two for Criminology.
  2. Yvonne Jewkes and Majid Yar, ‘Handbook of Internet Crime’ – contains chapters relevant to the issue of identity.
  3. Giddens, ‘A Sociology’ – provides a good overview of Sociology (used by undergraduate sociologists)

Therefore, next week my aim is to have found these three textbooks in Hartley library and to create a short summary about each.

Written by Laura German on February 26th, 2010

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E-democracy and the World Wide Web   no comments

Posted at 5:55 am in Politics,Sociology

E-democracy (electronic democracy or digital democracy) is a relatively new concept. It can be defined as the usage of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the enhancement of the participation of citizens in the democratic process. However, it can be argued that these technologies and especially the World Wide Web can play a bigger role in that process, by providing opportunities for reshaping the way democratic institutions currently work.

In order to evaluate the above statement, a thorough study of the way Democracy works is needed. Furthermore, prevalent ideologies within democratic states are factors that affect the degree of adoption of e-democracy, so studying Political Science textbooks is a way to be introduced to the most important ones.

The study of issues like collective action, discourse and decision making is crucial for gaining an understanding of the democratic process on both an offline context and the Web. For this reason, knowledge of Sociology and its basic principles is needed.

Some books to be used as an introduction to the aforementioned disciplines are:

Political Science:

  • Political Ideologies: an introduction – Eccleshal et al
  • Political Sociology: a critical introduction – Faulks


  • Sociology – Giddens
  • Sociology: A Global Introduction – Macionis, Plummer

Some other books that may be useful are:

  • The Myth of Digital Democracy – Hindman
  • Sociology in the Age of the Internet (Sociology and Social Change) – Cavanagh
  • The Social Net: Human behavior in cyberspace – Amichai-Hamburger

Written by el3e09 on February 20th, 2010

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Privacy of the individual in the global village of the World Wide Web (1st Post)   1 comment

Posted at 1:29 am in Psychology,Sociology

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively (as defined in Wikipedia). In other words, the individual has the ability to decide what is private, i.e. belongs only to him and what is public, i.e. is open to others as well.
However, in practice preserving one’s privacy or private information is not an easy task. In addition to this, in many cases the boundaries between private and public are obscure; especially on the Web, privacy is an area of controversy.
Nowadays, as people post their personal data online for various reasons (in social networking sites, blogs, electronic purchases etc.), many are concerned about who can control/access their data after these are exposed online. On the other hand, a significant number of people, especially younger people, are quite confident about posting their data online and feel no threats regarding their privacy; some of them are also ignorant of the possible threats. A privacy paradox emerges, as many people talk about intrusion of their privacy online, yet nobody actually takes action against it.
Numerous questions regarding privacy arise, such as which are the boundaries of privacy, how important is online privacy, how much information should people post online, how much information do organisations and governments actually need etc.
From a social standpoint, the Web is a “global village”, a very large social network, where anyone has the ability to access a great deal of information. This “global village” is beyond the boundaries of a specific group or nation, but extends itself worldwide. That means that each individual does not anymore belong to a small town or village; instead the Web contributes to bringing people from different backgrounds closer.
Since invasion of privacy is a common phenomenon on the Web, it affects global society directly.
However, different nations and cultures may have different opinions on what is public and what is private. Especially, eastern societies, which are more conservative, may have more strict opinions on certain privacy matters. Significantly, people who belong to some social/religious groups or are socially isolated for some reason, may be more vulnerable in terms of privacy.
Many are of the opinion that with the appearance of social networking sites, privacy is not anymore a social norm. Is this actually true? Should we stop believing that some information just belongs to us, but is open to the public instead?

From a psychological standpoint, people behave differently during their online interactions than during their offline interactions and something that they would consider public in the offline world, they may regard it as private in the offline world or vice versa. Of great interest are also topics such as the reasons why some people post their intimate thoughts or experiences online without thinking about the consequences and the way people manage or experiment with their online identities. Many people adopt an online persona, which might be very different than their actual self. This online role playing game, may be helpful to some (for instance to teenagers, who are at the stage of establishing their identity), but it might provoke privacy breaches, when malicious users try to hide themselves behind a mask. In the past, there have been many cases where people with malicious motives have approached others online (especially younger people).
To sum up, all the above mentioned are some initial thoughts on approaching the matter of privacy on the World Wide Web and are definitely going to be enriched and altered after thorough research. The list given below contains a number of books taken from these two disciplines that may be helpful in the analysis of the concept of privacy.

Reading List:

A. Sociology
• Global Sociology by R. Cohen, P. Kennedy 2nd Edition (2007)
• Social Divisions by G. Payne 2nd Edition (2007)
• Introductory Sociology by T.Bilton et al. 4th Edition (2002)
• Sociology by A. Giddens 6th Edition (2009)
• Sociology, Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn 7th Edition (2008)
• The rise of the network society by M. Castells Volume 1 2nd Edition (2000)
• The power of Identity by M. Castells Volume 2 2nd Edition (2004)
• The Internet Galaxy by M. Castells (2001)
• Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices by R. Kling 2nd Edition
• Social Identity and Social Cognition by D. Abrams (1999)
• Born Digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives by J. Palfrey (2008)
• Understanding Social Problems: Issues on Social Policy by M. May (2001)

B. Psychology
• Psychology by G. Martin et al. 3rd European Edition (2007)
• The Psychology of the Internet by P. Wallace (1999)
• Introduction to Social Psychology by R. Lippa (1999)
• Psychology – The Science of Mind and Behaviour by P. Gross 5th Edition (2005)

Written by az4g09 on February 20th, 2010

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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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