Internet, Modernization and Globalization

by Paula Uimonen, 2001

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ISBN 91-7265-347-7

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Press release
22 October 2001
(in Swedish)

Review by Karl Steinick in Sydsvenskan, 4 March 2002 (in Swedish)

The dissertation was publicly defended on 30 October 2001 at Stockholm University. Opponent was Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK), University of Oslo:

"I must conclude that the thesis is an original and very valuable contribution to our still embryonic comparative understanding of the Internet. It covers a lot of ground and succeeds surprisingly well in its attempt to demonstrate the awkward relationship between Net and State, and more generally, between deterritorialised networks and territorial power structures."

Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen's full summary is made available on this site, with his kind permission.



The exponential growth and global expansion of the Internet has led many people to believe that the Internet is ushering in a new era, the information age, and a new social form, the information society. By equating the development of new information technologies with the evolution of a new informational social order, these notions reflect the primacy awarded to science and technology in representations of modernity. From an anthropological perspective, this visionary belief in technology-induced progress is instructive of the extent to which technological development is a result of culturally mediated social agency. And it is the ways in which different actors interpret the meaning of the Internet that this monograph is concerned with, the characteristics of which are analyzed in terms of the broader processes of modernization and globalization.

Approaching Internet development in terms of cultural management, this study focuses on the social dynamics underlying its expansion in developing countries. Individuals actively involved in this process form the ethnographic basis of the analysis. Positioned within different organizational frameworks, the activities and perspectives of these Internet pioneers provide an emic understanding of the culture of networking. Representing the social and cultural embeddedness of the Internet, the culture of networking is a subculture that is both related to and diverges from dominant cultural forms. In this investigation, the focus lies on the dynamic interrelations between the culture of networking and existing power relations, at international and national levels.

The research is based on multi-sited and translocal fieldwork in Geneva (international discourses and activities), Southeast Asia (regional and national case studies) and cyberspace (translocal site). Relying on a variety of investigative techniques, the research has been carried out from 1995 until the present.

Images from Fieldwork in Southeast Asia

Contemporary Southeast Asia is a fascinating region, rich in cultural diversity and with a great deal of variety in terms of modernization. These photographs aim to capture some of the striking images and imaginaries to be found in Laos and Malaysia, the two national case studies of this study.


The following institutes have kindly sponsored this research:
-Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency/Department for Research Coordination (Sida/SAREC)
-Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR)
-Anna Ahlströms och Ellen Terserus Stiftelse