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The Internet, Technology Studies, and International Relations

Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter. students will be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast three positions regarding the sources of a tool’s meaning: technological determinism, designer’s intent, and social construction of technology.

  2. Define terms: technology, export regime, affordances, net neutrality

  3. Describe the uniqueness debate and the three positions related to how norms and rules should be derived for the internet: the adoption of unique rules, grafting of old rules, and borrowing from other fields.

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Questions to Discuss

  1. Read the essay “Can the internet be saved?” which can be found at this website:

  2. Does this article reproduce the Technological Determinist view?Do you agree with it?Can states change the internet’s meaning and parameters or must it exist in its present form? What types of measures might you come up with to reform this technology and what facets of its current form might you eliminate – anonymity? Net Neutrality?

Chapter 2

Introduces concepts drawn from the field of technology studies, and paints a big picture – through encouraging students to think about what a technology is for, and the ways in which power in enacted in making decisions about what tools do. In this chapter, and throughout the text, students are encouraged to ask themselves: 

    In what ways is what I am seeing in this situation unique, and in what ways can I identify other technology issues where similar issues have arisen?


International relations students may identify parallels, for example, between the Military Industrial Complex and the Cyber Industrial Complex, and between support for conventional weapons bans and support for cyber weapons bans.

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