Internet Studies: The State of an Emerging Field

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of New Media & Society: ‘Internet Studies: The State of an Emerging Field’

Editor: Charles Ess, Guest Professor (Professor med særlige opgaver), Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark, and Professor, Philosophy and Religion, Drury University.


William H. Dutton, Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford


In 2005, Nancy Baym edited a special issue of The Information Society (Vol. 21, No. 4) that asked the question, “Is ‘Internet Research’ a Virtual Field, a Proto-Discipline, or Something Else?” In 2010, two handbooks of Internet Studies will appear (edited by Hunsinger, Kastrup, & Allen [Springer] and Consalvo & Ess [Wiley-Blackwell]) while a third has been launched (Dutton [Oxford University Press]. These publications document the emergence and development of Internet Studies as a field of research and scholarship in its own right, one affiliated with a characteristic topoi of issues, research questions, methodologies, and its own distinctive ethics.

To further explore the broad terrains and structures of this emerging field, the Oxford Internet Institute is organizing a series of workshops and lectures over the next two years, intended to encourage and gather critical analyses and perspectives from a number of internationally-recognized scholars and researchers, along with younger colleagues whose research promises new insights and perspectives. The first of these workshops, held at Aarhus University on 19 March 2010, took stock of the field by critically assessing the two major volumes on Internet Studies (Consalvo and Ess 2010, and Hunsinger et al 2010), with a view towards developing further insights for the field, its current and future directions, and its (potential) significance and impact. Future workshops are being organized, including one that will be held in Barcelona in early 2011. Steve Jones[1], and Matthew Allen[2] have held lectures in this series at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Charles Ess[3] will present one of a number of future lectures.

A special issue of New Media & Society is intended (a) to encourage and collect the development of scholarly contributions developed initially for these workshops, and lectures, and (b) gather related scholarly research and reflections from the global community of Internet scholars and researchers. These contributions will build on the existing and forthcoming handbooks and related compilations to stimulate and inform global discussion about the emerging field of Internet Studies.

Accordingly, we invite contributions from across the range of disciplines applied to study of the Internet that address our thematic questions, beginning with: can “Internet Studies” be discerned and demarcated as a field (or fields) of academic research and scholarship out of the rapidly growing body of research and scholarship intertwined with the Internet and the array of human interactions it facilitates? And: insofar as Internet Studies can be argued to exist as a field(s) – what are its defining characteristics, including, e.g., a distinctive set of objects of study, research questions, methodologies, a body of findings and literature recognized as foundational or definitive, ethical guidelines, professional expectations, and whatever else we may argue to be necessary, if not sufficient, conditions for an academic field(s) of study?

Contributions may take one of two forms. One, authors may seek to develop comprehensive and authoritative overviews of how an important topos of research on the Internet (e.g., social interactions, emotion, identity play and development, etc., etc.) has been studied, important findings, and areas in need of further research. Two, authors may take a critical perspective on the field as a whole or any sub-field within this area. Generally, the special issue will not focus on the presentation of specific research, even though it might connect well with and reflect upon a broader synthesis or overview of a larger domain of Internet research. Other special issues and articles are well suited for the publication of original research. This issue will be more focused on generating the most stimulating syntheses of the field – defining the vitality and overall state of the field.

Selected contributions will appear in the special issue of New Media & Society.

Submissions are due to the editor(s) by December 31, 2010.  Submissions accepted by the editor(s) will be returned to the author(s) for any needed revision by 31 March 2011; final versions will be due back to the editor(s) by 30 June 2011, followed by an external review process resulting in final acceptance / rejection / or acceptance with revisions.  Final versions of accepted papers will be due by 1 December 2011.  Authors’ Guidelines are available on the New Media & Society website at <;: accessing these will require signing up for a user id and password (also necessary for any eventual submission to the special issue.)  Briefly: submissions require an abstract, keywords, and a target length of no more than 8,000 words, including notes and references. Documentation is Harvard style.

For further information about our workshops, lectures and this special journal issue, please feel free to contact either of the editors:

Charles Ess:

William Dutton:




Comments are most welcome