Online and Offline Continuities, Community and Agency on the Internet

Author(s) Jon W. Anderson
Contact Jon W. Anderson, Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Av., N.E. Washington, DC 20064, USA. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 1, 2013, pp. 4-33
Published May 10, 2013
Type Article
Abstract How the Internet spawns community and gets its features into offline life is a recurring problem met in searches for “impacts” of its successive iterations in the Middle East and arises particularly in assessing equivocal findings most recently about social media in the Arab Spring uprisings. But the problem is more methodological than ontological: it lies in viewing the Internet through a media lens on communication as message-passing and “influence” as the outcome to be identified. The Internet and its current embodiment for new users as social media have a richer – and, I argue, normal – sociology in a more extended habitus explored here through comparison of longer-term, intermediate-term, and immediate processes highlighted by recent research that give better pictures of the Internet as networking and as cultural performance, and of appropriate methodologies that will retrieve their features.
Keywords Internet studies, social media, communication studies, blogs, internet, Arab Spring, public sphere, activism, cyberactivism, information and communication technology, social networks