Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The Internet has emerged as a catalyst for global knowledge production. This is supported by its positive impacts in the First World. A progressive assessment argues that the Internet will be the "elixir" that brings immediate visibility and relevance to scientific communities in the periphery. Yet, Internet diffusion is often framed by past technology failures that further widen global divides. This characterizes an "affliction" argument. The "teething argument" suggests that adoption within the Third World is tentative at best with benefits unfolding over time in some regions but not others. This dissertation is a qualitative and quantitative study that tests these three technology arguments (elixir, affliction, and, teething) in a Latin American region. It considers the relationship between scientific communication, collaboration, and productivity in Chilean science, focusing on the role of Internet practice. Results are presented through the qualitative analysis of 29 video taped interviews, followed by a quantitative analysis of a communication network survey administered to 337 Chilean researchers. Qualitative findings suggest that despite Chilean regional leadership in economic output, political disruptions and a paucity of local resources motivate many researchers to seek training abroad. This creates new, exterior contacts that are maintained through email communication. These cyber links, though, may also be creating technology dependencies. Quantitative results confirm that Chilean scientists are well connected when compared to past region studies. Yet, the Chilean scientific community reports an inverse relationship between domestic and foreign contacts, mirroring the disjointed network profile found in other developing regions. Other results suggest that Chilean scientists frequently publish in foreign journals. And in contrast to findings from other developing areas, collaboration is consistently related with increased domestic publications. Although Chileans seldom report problems, those they do report are associated with working with more collaborators and having geographically heterogeneous networks. Email shows no effect toward reducing research problems; and in some cases, email is associated with more intensive reports of problems. Taken as a whole, this author's findings support a "teething" argument for Internet influence on professional networks and activities within the Chilean scientific community.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Wesley Shrum



Included in

Sociology Commons