Key Issues of Research

Subject of Research: The Russian Internet, Culture & Society

The project "New Modes of Communication in the Post-Soviet World" (NMC) centers on electronic modes of communication, above all, the internet in all its genres, with secondary attention to traditional media. The time frame is the last two decades. Although the project will focus on contemporary Russia, in broadest terms, it is open to the discussion of new phenomena of communication throughout the geographical area defined by the former Soviet Union. Comparisons with other regions of the world are intended to sharpen the view on the Russian virtual realities.

Research Methods: An Interdisciplinary Approach

The NMC research project welcomes interdisciplinary approaches and scholars from all fields of social sciences and the humanities. Research questions put forward shall be related to contemporary social phenoma and relevant problems, aiming to promote a deeper understanding of cultural, political and social realities. Furthermore, the project will be particularly interested in examining and developing cutting-edge methods for studying the internet in general, thus encouraging prolific interdiscplinary discussion and exchange of methodological expertise.

Key Issues of Research

I) Social Networks

  • relationships between virtual networks and social realities
  • mapping online communities and networks (qualitative and quantitative approaches)
  • emergence and evolution of social networks
  • patterns of interlinking
  • diffusion of ideas and the phenomenon of social contagion in online communications
  • social, political and economical functions of social networks

II) Collective Identities

  • political clusters in the blogosphere and beyond
  • online versus offline collective identities
  • public versus private identities
  • doublethink and cynicism: national, collective identity mirrowed on the net

III) Popularity, Influence and Power

  • emergence of opinion leaders in the blogosphere
  • forms and degrees of influence
  • measuring influence
  • public opinion on the internet

IV) Codes and Norms of Online Behavior

  • culture of discussion on the internet
  • register and form of language used

V) Poltical Discourse

  • the concept of "press freedom" and the internet
  • judging the quality of political discourse
  • forms and degrees of "censorship"
  • influencing public opinion on the internet: hidden marketing and paid bloggers

VI) Online Activism: Organizing social movements via the internet

  • emergence and evolution of new social movements
  • organizational capacities of social networks
  • social uprisings and the role of social networks
  • the use of the internet to promote an official agenda
  • dissenters and political activism