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The Aesthetics of the Internet in St. Petersburg: Why Metaphor Matters

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This article proposes that the metaphors with which people imagine the Internet are more central to its political constitution than might at first be supposed. Instead of focusing on discourses of whether the Internet is a progressive force, a capitalist or anticapitalist space, digital commons or artifact of controlled interests, this article shows that metaphors of social relations themselves frame the politicization of the Internet. The way social actors are conceptualized in turn informs the senses in which a technology could be considered an object of political constitution, and the senses in which policy is a relevant mode of social engagement. An ethnographic account of uses of the Internet in St. Petersburg, Russia is presented with a view to framing Western metaphors of sociality.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Cambridge

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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