• Contributions to a sociology of the internet: a case study of the use of the internet in the republic of Croatia in the 1990s

      Leaning, Marcus; University of Bedfodshire (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004-10)
      Within the humanities and social sciences there are a variety of approaches for the study of the Internet. Through the use of a case study of the operation of the Internet in The Republic of Croatia during the 1990s, this thesis contributes to a position that regards sociological or 'culturalist' concerns as significant as 'formalist' concerns. The thesis is divided into three sections; the first section examines the socio-political construction of the Internet in contemporary academic and journalistic discourse. Attention is paid to the following: the broad theoretical understandings of the relationship of technology and society, the way in which the Internet is thought to be different from older forms of mass media, the assumed political potency of the Internet and how such conceptions are understood in terms of their integration into broader political perspectives. The second section deals with the use of the Internet in the Republic of Croatia during the 1990s. Attention is paid to the history of the Internet in Croatia and its political use is examined. The degree to which the Internet functioned as an effective counter to the dominant hegemonic discourse is found to be negligible when compared to old media that were operating in 'such a fashion. The explanation offered shows how the Internet and other forms of computer-mediated communication offers forms of communication that may not be best suited for the debates that were occurring in Croatia at that time. The third section explores how media forms are strongly linked to social forms. The Internet is conceptualised as a media form that is dependent upon a number of requirements for its full political potential to be made evident. It is concluded that attention should be placed upon both the interrelatedness of society, media technology and form of action studied, and the ways in which such concepts are socially constructed.
    • Participation and exclusion: a qualitative study of processes of power and inequality in area-based initiatives in an English town

      O'Reilly, Dermot Gerald; University of Bedfodshire (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004)
      The processes of three area-based initiatives relating to health provision, urban and neighbourhood renewal in Luton are used to examine whether political participation affects social exclusion. Government policies presume that increased participation reduces exclusion, while critical literature questions the type of participation produced in state initiatives, and also whether the discourse of exclusion adequately articulates social inequality. Participation is analysed in its relations to power, the political and to a social typology. Exclusion is analysed by delineating its contested meaning, and developing a dialectical model of inclusion and exclusion, that enables exclusion to be prefigured both as an analytical concept and as a critical component for exploring inequality. This thesis explores the processes of participation and exclusion via voluntary and community groups by presenting a predominantly qualitative analysis of the frameworks and processes of participation and the circumstances and experiences of exclusion. The study finds that: • The participation of the voluntary and community groups in the initiatives was on an unequal basis with the statutory sector, it was constrained by bureaucratic procedures, and led to a combative relationship between the sectors in two of the initiatives. • The voluntary and community sectors -elements of which are here characterised as "remedial movements" -had some effects on micro-and mesolevel processes, but no direct effect on macro-policy that controls the initiatives. Participation in the groups and initiatives faced a number of structural dilemmas. • Social exclusion in the areas was heterogeneous, but associated with the lack of interactional processes that enable inclusion. The range of experiences of exclusion demonstrated what I shall define as an "inequality of capabilities for inclusion". The research concludes that participation via initiatives does not necessarily result in the total incorporation of the voluntary and community sector, and claims for rights to be recognised had both achieved gains and reflected an antagonistic, if complementary, approach by some groups to the state. If the aim is to increase participation, however, the evidence implies that it needs to be consistently driven; that while the initiatives have affected exclusion, their effects have been limited and are fragile, and that reducing inequality is necessary to enable inclusive participation.
    • Unearthing the English common reader: working class reading habits, England 1850-1914

      Gerrard, Teresa A.; University of Bedfodshire (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004)
      Gerrard, T. (2004) 'Unearthing the English common reader: working class reading habits, England 1850-1914'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.