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Presentation of the journal RESET

The Internet has become a fundamental tool in most contemporary societies. Internet technology has gradually and increasingly affected a variety of aspects in our social life, in areas as heterogeneous as communication, work, health, culture, leisure or love relationships.

Staying true to their mission of analysing social change and reflecting on current times, social scientists have sought to address this new object. The multiplicity of intellectual stimuli that has resulted from the ‘Internet push’, though it involves a diversity of schools of thought, has eventually revealed several shared concerns. What change does (or does not) the Internet elicit? How does it affect interactions between individuals and between groups? In which ways does it transform social structures, from political movements to family relations, from patient groups to home-based work? The Internet as an object of study also raises a number of methodological challenges. For example, is it viable to carry out qualitative or quantitative research online? If so, which criteria should be set and what kind of results can be expected?

The journal RESET. Social Science Research on the Internet, was born out of this context of technological evolution and the need for specific academic inquiry it triggered. However, our purpose is not merely thematic. RESET reclaims itself of a scientific approach that pays particular attention to the elements of continuity underpinning the observable changes related to the Internet. This approach counterbalances the abundance of studies that see in the Internet such a radical change that it would invalidate previous interpretations of social life. According to these studies, the observation of online spaces or connection patterns represents a “New World”, with its own unprecedented social behaviours. Contrarily, RESET wishes to encourage and foster research that emphasizes how the changes related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) follow on from long-term social phenomena. The Internet can be situated within a broader framework that encompasses processes of “civilization” or disenchantment of the world, reconfigurations of the forms of cultural distinction, devices of governance or gender performativity, spaces where interaction rites take place, economic and matrimonial strategies, or the public expression of feelings. One cannot but acknowledge that all these phenomena have appeared well before electricity was even discovered. Thus, even though an opposition has long existed between a supposedly “fake”, “virtual” online social world, and the “real”, off-line world, this journal considers the Internet as a material communication device that should neither be stigmatized nor glorified.

Taking this stand goes along with adopting an ‘operational’ positioning in the academic field. If the Internet is not a reality of its own, then Internet studies should not be a separate galaxy either. RESET does not aim at introducing an Internet-specific particularism within the social sciences. On the contrary, we want to promote a transversal approach on the Internet. Therefore, in addition to encouraging renewed readings of the social sciences’ classic references, we opt for thematic organization of the journal’s issues. Each of them will be based on well-established research areas within the social sciences, such as social stratification, mental health, family, administration, criticism, etc. The articles are thus meant to contribute both Internet studies and to those, including less recent ones, which were elaborated without a screen or a mouse.

Finally, by creating this journal, we want to propose an editorial venue dedicated to the Internet as an object and/or as a method for research. At the same time, we seek to maintain the high standards of academic integrity and empirical grounding that give flesh to the scientific and social value of our disciplines, while safeguarding our publications from futuristic fantasies that could make the changes related to Internet more exotic than understandable. Hence the name RESET: when a computer resets, its configuration is updated, but the operating system remains the same.

The editorial board

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