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Title:A Technological Dis -Ease: Scientific Discourses, Mass Media, and the 'Truths' About 'Computer -Addiction
Author(s):Reed, Lori Kathleen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Valdivia, Angharad N.
Department / Program:Communications
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:This is a case study into the historical emergence of psychological, medical and popular discourses surrounding contemporary conditions variously labeled "computer addiction," "Internet Addiction Disorder," (IAD) and "Pathological Computer Use" (PCU). Most research on computer addiction originates from within clinical psychology, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences, and works to prove the existence of the disorder, to locate its origins, and to identify personality types most "at risk" for computer addiction. By contrast, this study is conceptualized through historical and social studies of mass media, science, and technology. From this view, computer technologies and scientific discourses are historically situated and are implicated in a complex cluster of cultural, political and economic relationship. This study maps the conditions of possibility for the formation and legitimization of the concept of "computer addiction," and explores the effects of this legitimacy. In short, the discourse on computer addiction is approached as an example of what Foucault (1978) calls a normalizing discourse---in this case, a discourse which functions contextually toward the production, definition, negotiation, and management of people's developing relationships with this new media technology even while it defines and produces related definitions of "appropriate" and "inappropriate," or "normal" and "abnormal," social practice (e.g. gender, family). Data for analysis include scholarly books, journals, media coverage, psychological diagnostic criteria, court transcripts, and on-line discussion group postings. Critical questions addressed in this study include: What are the parameters, utility, stakes, and material effects of "computer addiction"? What are the rhetorical and social processes through which these scientific claims are produced, negotiated, legitimized, and/or discounted? What are the gendered dimensions of computer addiction? It is concluded that the concept of "computer addiction" is not a purely scientific concept. Rather, the formation of the concept is socially produced and it has functioned historically as a mechanism by which society has defined, negotiated and managed the complex struggles through which computer technologies have been incorporated into and disrupted (contested) social organizations.
Issue Date:2000
Description:219 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9971168
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2000

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