Abstract - The Information Society 21(4)

Disciplining the Future: A Critical Organizational Analysis of Internet Studies

Annette N. Markham

This paper provides a critical, cautionary stance toward the future structure of “Internet Studies” as a field. A social constructionist reading of the process of organizing reveals the ways in which apparently obdurate structures are constructed and negotiated through everyday discursive practices. Subsequent structures and practices function ideologically to control organizational members in a concertive fashion by shaping and directing the conceptual frameworks for inquiry and action in a seemingly natural way. Definitions and metaphors construct conceptual boundaries of meaning for the field of inquiry, delimiting and protecting over time what counts as Internet and Internet Studies. Over time, origins of knowledge are hidden within the structure of the organizations and a culture of unobtrusive control emerges. Unless radical measures are taken to reflexively interrogate everyday routines and habitual ways of talking in academic environments, the future field of Internet Studies will not transcend the traditions of the academy but will be entrenched in and reproduce traditional structures and a traditional scholarly enterprise.


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