Title

Early use of worldwide electronic mailing lists by social science and humanities scholars in the United States

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Higher Education

Advisor(s)

Joan N. Burstyn

Keywords

Electronic mailing lists, social science ; social studies education

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

Abstract

Electronic mailing lists are one form of communication of what is collectively called computer mediated communication (CMC). The dissertation examined public (or open subscription) electronic mailing lists on the computer networks BITNET and Internet. At the time of the study these two networks primarily allowed members from the academic community. An examination of nine electronic mailing lists with a focus in the social sciences, the humanities, or an interdisciplinary orientation in either discipline was conducted using a qualitative research design. The framework included Hiltz & Turoff's (1993) individual and group characteristics for the determining the success or failure or computer conferencing. Content analysis was conducted on the electronic mall messages generated by nine electronic mailing lists over a six-month period. In addition telephone interviews with twenty-five full- and part-time faculty members who were participants on the selected electronic mailing lists was done. Key findings of this dissertation revealed that each electronic mailing lists evolved differing forms of management practices, cultural norms, and types of content exchange. Respondents reported varying types of social relationships formed with other participants on electronic mailing lists. These differences in experiences and expectations appeared to be related to the degree to which an individual felt in some way isolated from others, preferred communication styles, professional rank, and time constraints. The dissertation also considers the implications for higher education and the extent to which electronic mailing lists may change scholarly behaviors.

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