JCMC special issue on search engines

I am editing a special issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication on The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines. I hope to receive submissions from people in a variety of disciplines. Details below the fold.

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Special Issue on



Guest Editor:
Eszter Hargittai
Northwestern University


Abstracts (optional, but preferred) due: June 1, 2005
Full papers due: Oct 1, 2005
Anticipated publication: Summer or Fall 2006


Search engines are some of the most commonly accessed Web sites online. Millions of people turn to search engines daily to find information about news, health concerns, products, government services, their new neighbors, natural disasters and a myriad of other topics. At the same time, recent trends suggest that the search engine market is shrinking, with fewer large players guiding users’ online behavior than ever before. Despite the crucial role that search engines play in how people access information, little attention has been paid to the social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions of large-scale search engines.

This special issue will explore the social implications of large-scale search engines on the Web. It will bring together experts from the fields of communication, sociology, political science, economics, business, law, and computer and information sciences to consider what we know about people’s search engine uses and what recent trends suggest for the types of content that will be most accessible to users in the future.

The following are some questions papers might address: Who uses search engines and for what purposes? What are the effects of search engine use on mass- and interpersonal communication? How do users’ communication practices influence search engine functionality? How skilled are various population groups at the use of search engines? How do search engines shape identity management and representation online? Are all search engines created equal? Is all content created equal in the eyes of search engines? Is there a viable public alternative to the search engine market dominated by private actors? These are just some of the possible questions papers in this special issue may address.


Potential authors should submit a preliminary proposal of 500 words by June 1, 2005 to the issue editor Eszter Hargittai
(searchengines06@webuse.org). Those interested in submitting an abstract are encouraged to contact the special issue editor with questions and ideas. The proposal should include the central research question, the theoretical and/or empirical basis for the paper and preliminary findings.

Authors whose proposals are accepted for inclusion will be invited to submit a full paper of roughly 7,000-10,000 words by October 1, 2005. Since JCMC is an interdisciplinary journal, authors should plan for papers that will be accessible to non-specialists, and should make their paper relevant to this audience. Anticipated publication date for the issue is Summer or Fall 2006.

Final submissions should be emailed to the special issue editor, Eszter Hargittai at searchengines06@webuse.org.


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