More great news: Matt Pearce successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Macro – Macro Emergence: The Internet as a Cultural Institution.” The project draws on world society theory to make sense of the rapid expansion of internet participation.
Over the course of several chapters, Matt builds the argument that the internet isn’t just a set of wires that serve the growing global economy. Rather, the internet is rooted in all sorts of social and discursive material, which are now institutionalized in world society: everything from international standards and engineering documents to new discourses that characterize internet access as a human right.
Matt uses time-series and panel models to explore the growth of the internet over time. Some findings are consistent with the conventional world society literature — for instance, countries with strong ties to international NGOs tend to expand the internet more quickly. But, Matt also pursues several new directions.
Of particular interest to me, Matt explores the role of universities in the growth of the internet. It is well known that the internet originally grew out of computer connections between universities & scientific research institutions. However, Matt shows that universities are hubs that support the spread of the internet to different countries. The more we study universities, the more it seems like they are foundational to world society. While universities are grounded within nations, they have transnational connections and orientations, and serve as receptor sites for global ideas and cultural forms.
The dissertation defense went really well. Matt presented and defended his research with clarity and poise… and very much earned his new title. Congratulations Dr. Matthew Pearce!