CFP: The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines

Received this CFP today from Eszter Hargittai:

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

Special Issue on

The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions
of Search Engines

Guest Editor:
Eszter Hargittai
Northwestern University

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.

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