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The French Context of Internet Studies: Sociability and digital practice

Abstract : Growing mediatization and the rise of “digital culture” have put studies of digital media, and particularly Internet Studies to the forefront of communication research in many national contexts. In this contribution we do, however, not pretend to present the totality of French media and communication sciences. The field and its academically established discipline, Information and communication sciences (SIC, Sciences de l’information et de la communication) is far too diverse and complex. In the following, we develop the emergence and historical grounding of a contemporary phenomenon central to SIC, the convergence of telematics with reception and audience studies in France. Both fields, telematics as well as the study of audiences and publics, allow French Internet Studies to profit from useful pioneer work and strongly influence studies of networked communication and use. The work done on the publics of cinema and culture on the one hand, and the early work on “communication machines” (Schaeffer 1970) conducted, in France and specifically the French Minitel/Teletel experience (1980-1995) have well equipped studies of use for the digital age, now that multiple screens and terminals flourish in a convergence culture (Jenkins) and questions of Internet use combine the study of audiences and of the social uses of the media, largely due to the massive presence of the cultural industries online and the merging of audience measurement techniques from the (not so old) days of TV-panels to digital analytics today. At the same time a transnational exchange needs to be acknowledged. The influence which European researchers having immigrated to the United States and working on empirical communication studies had on French research contributed not only to the creation of the early avatars of institutionalized communication studies, but also to a broadening of the study of media publics to include the social context and the collective dynamics beyond the offer and the content produced by the media and cultural industries. Both approaches bring valuable experiences to the field of Internet Studies and the use of a combination of terrains including digital data in order to learn more about cultural practices. The challenge of digital methods thus profits from the centrality of social use and practice as core concepts.
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Contributor : Olivier Thévenin <>
Submitted on : Saturday, January 28, 2017 - 11:58:13 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - 11:16:08 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01448757, version 1


Carsten Wilhelm, Olivier Thévenin. The French Context of Internet Studies: Sociability and digital practice . Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz. Kommunikationswissenschaft im internationalen Vergleich : Transnationale Perspektiven, Springer VS, pp.161-184, 2017, Kommunikationswissenschaft im internationalen Vergleich : Transnationale Perspektiven, ISBN 978-3-531-17995-7. ⟨halshs-01448757⟩



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