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Journal Article:

Author(s) :


Walsh, J. P., & Bayma, T.

Date of Publication :


1996 Aug

Article Title :


Computer networks and scientific work.

Journal Title :


Social Studies of Science

Volume ID :



Pages(s) :



Abstract :


This paper explores the relations between social context and technology by studying the incorporation of computer mediated communication (CMC) across several fields. Based on interviews with 67 scientists in four fields, we find that computer network use differs substantially by field, and we explain these differences in terms of the different social structures and work organizations of each field. The results suggest that fields that consist of tightly coupled but geographically dispersed work groups (for example, particle physics) tend to adopt CMC more heavily than those where work is performed within relatively autonomous groups (for example, experimental biology). Also, fields that are more buffered from the market (mathematics) tend to use informal CMC, while those more tightly linked to commercial markets (chemistry) tend to limit use to formal CMC. This study supports previous research in suggesting that the form of technological innovation depends on the context into which new technology is embedded.

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