Doctorate in Social Theory

My PhD candidacy is through the Ashworth Centre for Social Theory at the University of Melbourne. The current status of the PhD is version 0.935

Contents (aim 95,000 currently 94 254)

Chapter 1. The Internet As A Topic Of Social Inquiry (Aim 20,000 Actual 18,887)
1.1 Propositions and Preview (5,696 words)
1.2 Theme: Social Theory (6,887 words)
1.3 Setting: The Internet (6, 304 words)

Chapter 2. Literature Review (Aim 20,000 Actual 21,764 )
2.1 Literature As Character Development (5,545 words)
2.2 Virtual Reality (5,390 words)
2.3 Virtual Community (5,343 words)
2.4 Virtual Mythology (5,486 words)

Chapter 3. Critical Issues for the Internet (Aim 35,000 Actual 34 720)
3.1 Critical Issues Methodology (aim 5,000 currently 5,322)
3.2 Data Access (aim 7,500 currently 7,250)
3.3 Data Expression (aim 7,500, currently 7, 323)
3.4 Data Security (aim 7,500, currently 7,468)
3.5 Data Integration (aim 7,500, currently 7357)

Chapter 4. The Internet and Modernity (Aim 20,000 Actual 18,456 )
4.1 The Future of the Internet (currently 6,469 ,aim 7,000)
4.2 The Internet and Societal Development
4.3 More Human Than Human

A draft of the thesis (OpenDocument Format), entitled "A Social Theory of the Internet", is available which will be updated regularly.


A Social Theory of the Internet: A Preliminary Review
Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Amid all of the socio-junk on how the Web enables utopian connectivity and global change, this PhD-in-progress by Lev Lafayette is a refreshing - and rewarding - read.

The author keeps his wits about him to engage in a thoughtful, theory-heavy analysis that looks at issues like censorship, information security, commercialization, institutional affiliation, and access to Internet resources. And he does so with an eye toward the communicative rationality-modernity debate rather than a one-sidedly systemic model.

On the reversals of the Internet's discourse community in the late 1990s, he writes: "The commercialisation of the Internet has run against the cultural norms of the Internet and its technical design. Spamming, where a commercial advertisement is posted on inappropriate usenet groups (an Internet public news and discussion service), is contrary to the ethos of usenet, which has traditionally rejected commercial advertising. Initiated by the Canter and Siegel law firm with a 'Green Card' advertisment, such 'net-abuse,' as it is now known, is an everyday occurrence. Internet users, in an attempt to protect the network from becoming a morass of junkmail, have designed 'cancelbots,' programs which search the network looking for postings by targeted individuals or groups and deleting them before they can spread. Or they simply complain to the administrators of the sites from which the junkmail originated. Furthermore, corporate and individual advertising through the world-wide web (WWW) is specifically non-communicative, and resource intensive to the network as a whole. Once again, the web was originally designed for academic interests. Now it is corporate interests that clearly dominate its resources."

Doctoral Thesis: A Social Theory of the Internet
Lev Lafayette
Online at

This thesis paper by Lev Lafayette, of the University of Melbourne explores the social implications of the Internet and Communications Technology. I was particularly interested in Chapter Four: The Internet and Modernity, which is divided into four sections, "Communications Technology and Social Transformation", "Postmodernity and Social Structures", "A Strategic Programme to Postmodernity", and "Enframing and Formal Pragmatics; Requisites for Internet Partisanship". In this paper the causal relationship between new technology and social change is explored, using examples from the past, such as the invention of the printing press, to highlight his argument. This is pretty hard reading, but a valuable source of information on how new communications technology has affected society as well as how it might affect it in the future.