The Internet and structuration : agency and structure through Internet usage within kinship



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This Report applies the theories of Structuration and reflexivity to the Internet in Amman, Jordan, to argue how the Internet can challenge authority as embedded in kinship social formations. In the first place, the Internet can be an empowering agent by challenging authority; at the same time, kinship’s social and moral codes can structure the reflexivity that users derive from the Internet and guide the Structuration to which the Internet can lead. This Report argues that there is a symbiotic relationship between the Internet and kinship. Situating Internet usage within kinship would challenge the ontological and epistemological centrality of the “the media text” in Media Studies. Furthermore, situating Internet usage within kinship would highlight users’ emerging Structuration, which can lead to counter-hegemonic currents in Amman. Then, the Report explains how and why an anthropological approach to media, including the Internet, would be especially suitable for exploring the Internet’s functions in users’ lives. Finally, the Report uses an interview of an Arab woman student to show how kinship’s social and moral codes structure user’s reflexivity on one hand, and the Internet’s ability to encourage reflexivity-- eroding kinship’s codes-- on the other hand. An anthropological approach would offer the conceptual and methodological tools for understanding how media usage in general is a social process, and that reflexivity and structuration emerge within that process, rather than assuming technological determinism. This is crucial in the context of the “Arab Spring,” where the Internet has challenged authority. Thus, this Report proposes kinship as a form of authority and social structure and the Internet as a conduit of Structuration.