Mobile Telephony


Internet Science

Pre-Internet Science



Methods and Digital Video Ethnography

Reviews, Overviews, & Outreach


Theory articles

Reagency of the Internet, or, “How I Became A Guest for Science.”

2005. Social Studies of Science 35 (5): 723-54.

Wesley Shrum

Contemporary discussions of globalization concentrate on economic dimensions, neglecting questions about social relationships. This essay addresses the globalization of science as a process, replacing the concept of development with the idea of reagency and focusing on the Guest, an identity associated with specific places. The principal issue is whether the connectivity initiative centering on the Internet is just another development program or whether it is different in character, owing to a projective orientation that changes the relationship between place and identity. Following the conceptual groundwork, two contrasts are drawn in the body of the paper, between Guest Houses at two Kenyan research institutes, and between donor initiatives involving evaluation and connectivity. A minor thread throughout the essay explains the romantic interest in the subject, and my transition from a phony donor to a real one.

Science and Story in Developing Countries: The Emergence of Nongovernmental Organizations in Agricultural Research

Wesley Shrum

Published as “Science and Story in Development.” W. Shrum. 2000. Social Studies of Science30(1): 95-124

Given the importance of social location to research practice, a particularly compelling problem for social studies of science is how research activities emerge in a new sector. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in less developed countries are initiating research, often in a style of ‘alternative’ agriculture. I account for this development using concepts from semiotic and structural network approaches.

Organizational and Geopolitical Approaches to International Science and Technology Networks

Wesley Shrum and Carl Bankston

Knowledge and Policy 6(3/4):119-133. Fall/Winter 1993-1994.

Recent views of science and technology have relied heavily on social network approaches.  However, even within social network approaches, there are distinctive positions on international science and technology networks, depending on how boundaries and organizational processes are conceptualized.  We contrast organizational approaches, exemplified by that of Shrum and Mullins, with geopolitical approaches, exemplified by Thomas Schott’s work.  Problems and advantages of each approach are discussed.  Finally, we propose that the difference between empirical levels of analysis and the part/whole distinction offers a preferable way of conceptualizing the micro-macro problem.


Mobile Telephony

Are mobile phones changing social networks? A longitudinal study of core networks in Kerala

Antony Palackal, Loyola College of Social Science, Trivandrum, India
Paul Nyaga Mbatia, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Dan-Bright Dzorgbo, University of Ghana
Ricardo B. Duque, University of Vienna, Austria
Marcus Antonius Ynalvez, Texas A&M International University, USA
Wesley M. Shrum, Louisiana State University, USA

Mobile Phones and Core Network Growth in Kenya: Strengthening Weak Ties

Reference: YSSRE1236
Journal title: Social Science Research
Corresponding author: Dr. Wesley Shrum
First author: Dr. Wesley Shrum
PDF offprint dispatch: 3-2-2011

Untangling the Technology Cluster: The Effects of Mobile Phone and Email Use on the Location of Social Ties.

R. Sooryamoothy, B. Paige Miller, W. Shrum.

New Media and Society 2008.

Among the communication technologies introduced in the developing world during the past century, none has grown more rapidly than mobile telephony.Yet the impact of mobile phone use on social relationships has received limited systematic study.
This article examines the factors associated with mobile phone usage in the south Indian state of Kerala and the social structural consequences of such usage, particularly the composition and location of the social ties maintained through mobile technologies. Bivariate analysis of mobile phone usage and network composition shows that frequent users have fewer local ties and more external ties than non-frequent users. However,
these effects are due largely to the association of email and mobile phone use.The article shows that internet use increases, while mobile phone use decreases the geographical diversity of social ties.The implication is that mobile telephony and internet technologies may have different consequences for the globalization process.



2010. W. Shrum.  In Collaboration in the New Life Sciences.  Edited by John Parker, Nikki Vermeulen, and Bart Penders.  Ashgate Press.

Internet Science

Duque, R. B., P. Miller, O. Barriga, W. Shrum, and G. Henriquez (2012). Is Internet Use Associated with Reporting Fewer Problems in Collaboration? Evidence from the scientific community in Chile. Science Communication. Forthcoming.

In the developing world, many advocate the benefits of collaboration as a primary driver of research productivity. One of the crucial conditions that support, and help overcome problems, in distributed work is consistent access and use of Internet technologies. But it is argued that the collaborative benefits of Internet technologies are not symmetrically distributed worldwide, perhaps a result of neo-dependency relationships between the South and the North. To evaluate this, in this paper we consider the association between ‘email use and diversity’, ‘reported problems in web surfing’, and ‘problems in research collaboration’ for a population of scientists outside the mainstream, in the South American nation of Chile. We surveyed 337 scientists over three regions asking them to report on their collaborative behavior, Internet use, and research challenges. While we find that Chileans on the whole report fewer problems compared to other less developed nations studied in this way, they do report problems when reporting more collaborators and when their professional network is geographically heterogeneous. Email use, though, has no association with less frequent reports of research challenges, while reporting that ‘the Internet has made them more connected’ and reporting (more intensely)  ‘problems encountered while surfing the web’ are significantly associated with reporting more problems  in research, when controlling for background, professional activities, institutional and field context, and the number and location of collaborators.

Internet practice and professional networks in Chilean science: dependency or progress

Duque, R. B, W. Shrum, O. Barriga & G. Henriquez. Scientometrics, 81(1): 239-263 (2009)

The conventional view depicts scientific communities in the developing world as globally
isolated and dependent. Recent studies suggest that individual scientists tend to favor either local or international ties. Yet there are good reasons to believe that both kinds of ties are beneficial for knowledge production. Since they allow for the more efficient management of social networks, Internet technologies are expected to resolve this inverse relationship. They are also expected to decentralize access to resources within developing regions that have traditionally reflected an urban male bias. Elaborating upon science, development and social network perspectives, we examine the impact of the Internet in the Chilean scientific community, addressing the questions ‘to what extent is Internet use and experience associated with the size of foreign and domestic professional networks?’ and ‘are professional network resources equitably distributed across regional and demographical dimensions?’

When Do Scientists Adopt the Internet? Dimensions of Connectivity in Developing Areas

Ynalvez, MarcusRicardo B. DuquePaul MbatiaR. Sooryamoorthy, Antony Palackal,and Wesley Shrum

Scientometrics Vol. 63 (1), 2005: 39-67.

We examine the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the knowledge production sectors of three developing areas. Using interviews with 918 scientists in one South Asian and two African locations, we address three fundamental questions: (1) To what degree has the research community in the developing world adopted the Internet? (2) How can the disparities in Internet adoption best be characterized? (3) To what extent is Internet use associated with research productivity? Our findings indicate that while the vast majority of scientists describe themselves as current email users, far fewer have ready access to the technology, use it in diverse ways, or have extensive experience. These results are consistent with the notion that Internet adoption should not be characterized as a single act on the part of users. The rapid development of the Internet and the cumulative skills required for its effective use are equally important, particularly its impact on productivity. These findings lead us to qualify crude generalizations about the diffusion of the Internet in developing areas.

Collaboration Paradox

Ricardo B. Duque, Marcus Ynalvez, R. Sooryamoorthy, Paul Mbatia, Dan-Bright Dzorgbo, and Wesley Shrum

Social Studies of Science 35 (5): 755-85.

We examine the ways in which the research process differs in developed and developing areas by focusing on two questions: First, is collaboration associated with productivity? Second, does the Internet reduce problems of collaboration? Recent analyses by Bozeman and Lee (2003) and Walsh and Mahoney (2003) suggest affirmative answers to these questions for U.S. scientists. Based on a comparative analysis of scientists in Ghana, Kenya and the State of Kerala in southwestern India (n=918), we find that (1) collaboration does not lead to any general increment in productivity, and (2) while access to email does attenuate research problems, such difficulties are structured more by social context than by the collaborative process itself. The interpretation of these results suggests a paradox that raises issues for future studies: those conditions that unsettle the relationship between collaboration and productivity in developing areas may undermine the collaborative benefits of new information and communication technologies.

See also: Appendix on the Field Effect

Scientific Collaboration and the Kerala Model: Does the Internet Make a Difference?

Sooryamoorthy, R., Ricardo B. Duque, Marcus Ynalvez, Wesley Shrum

Is Kerala Becoming a Knowledge Society? Evidence from the Scientific Community

Sooryamoorthy, R. and Wesley Shrum
Sociological Bulletin 53 (2), May-August 2004, pp. 207-221.

When knowledge becomes the key for progress and development its generation assumes great significance. Who generates it and how it is done become important issues, and particularly so in developing societies. We attempt to understand both the players and the system of knowledge generation using data from a longitudinal study of 404 scientists in Kerala collected in 1994 and 2000. The analysis focuses on changes occurring during this period in the personal characteristics of the researchers, their professional activities, and their productivity.

Social Engineering of the Internet in Developing Areas

Wesley Shrum
Presented at the “Forum on Engineering the Knowledge Society” at the World Summit on the Information Society.
12 December 2003.

Establishing reliable and efficient connectivity at reasonable bandwidth is a task that is assumed to be relatively easy and straightforward in developed countries, but is surprisingly difficult in developing areas.

Kerala Connections: Will the Internet Affect Science in Developing Areas?

Davidson, Theresa, R. Sooryamoorthy, and W. Shrum
The Internet in Everyday Life. Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite (eds.). Blackwell. 2002

We describe a project to examine the rapid introduction of the Internet in the south Indian State of Kerala. The “Kerala Model” is unique in the developing world owing to its combination of high social development with low economic development. Using qualitative data from interviews with scientists in universities and governmental research institutes, we examine early views of the Internet in an advanced developing area.


Pre-Internet Science in Africa and India

Environmental Attitudes of Researchers in Developing Countries

Patricia Campion and Wesley Shrum
African and Asian Studies (2002)  Vol. 37(1): 17-42.

NGOs represent a distinctive sector in terms of their relationship to the development process. Recently, some NGOs have added a research component to their array of activities, raising the question of whether those who pursue research in these organizations are similar to or different from those in more traditional contexts. Attitudes of NGO scientists are examined and compared with those in universities and national research institutes, drawing on a survey of researchers in Ghana, Kenya and the Indian state of Kerala.

Are Scientists in Developing Countries Isolated?

Wesley Shrum and Patricia Campion
Science, Technology, and Society (2000)  Vol. 5(1): 1-34.

Most scholars and development experts assume that scientists in developing countries are isolated, although some posit that they are part of a global scientific community. This paper seeks to determine the size of professional networks for scientists in LDCs as well as the distribution of their ties across organizational contexts and locations.

View From Afar: ‘Visible’ Productivity of Scientists in the Developing World

Wesley Shrum (1997)  Scientometrics Vol. 40: 215-35.

Much of what we know about science and technology in less developed countries comes from international databases such as bibliographies and citation indices. However, it is not clear if researchers whose work appears in international databases are representative of scientists in the developing world as a whole, or whether they differ in terms of important social characteristics. A search of international databases on agriculture and natural resource management in Ghana, Kenya, and Kerala was used to compile a bibliography that could be compared with results from a face-to-face survey of researchers. Results indicate that many of the characteristics of those who are internationally visible differ from the wider population of scientists. The implication is that the “view from afar” based exclusively on information drawn from international databases does not accurately reflect the population of researchers or domestic productivity in less developed countries.

Fourth Sector Science: Non-Governmental Organizations in Kerala

Govindan Parayil and Wesley Shrum
Published as “Non-Governmental Research in Kerala.” (1996) Science, Technology & Development Vol. 14: 122-132.

Research in less developed countries has generally been viewed as the province of universities and national research institutes, but this no longer adequately describes the contexts in which research is conducted. Increasingly, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become an important source of knowledge generation. Using Kerala, India, as a research site, we present a methodology for the identification and study of non-governmental research organizations (NGROs) in the agricultural and environmental sectors, contrast them with state research institutes and universities, and provide examples of the kinds of work done.



The Gender Digital Divide in the Research Sectors of Ghana, Kenya, and Kerala: Are Women More Connected Over Time?

B. Paige MillerWesley Shrum

This article uses panel data gathered in 2001 and, 2005 to assess the gendered digital divide among researchers employed in three developing countries: Ghana, Kenya, and India (the state of Kerala). We move the digital divide discussion from an early focus on differentials in adoption and access to an assessment of use as measured by the diversity and intensity of internet and email activity. Using both bivariate and multivariate analyses, our results indicate clear gender disparities within an increasingly technologically saturated environment. Over time, both women and men report significant increases in access to and use of various technologies, yet even after controlling for other factors, women continue to be less technologically oriented than their male counterparts. Although women adopt new technologies around the same time and display similar patterns of email use as men, they are less intense users of both email and the web and they use the web less diversely than men. We conclude by suggesting possibilities for future research and significant policy implications for the assessment of the digital divide in low-income areas.

Circumvention and Social Change: ICTs and the Discourse of Empowerment

Meredith Anderson and W. Shrum
2007. Women’s Studies in Communication.

This essay draws on ten years of work in south India to develop an interpretation of empowerment based on the concept of circumvention. In light of the physical and social restrictions placed on many Indian women in terms of both domestic responsibilities and limited physical mobility , a direct case for the positive impact of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) on gender equality is difficult to build. The rigid nature of gender stratification in India is described in terms of patrifocality, which imposes limitations on women across all social strata . We show how women professionals use the Internet to circumvent gender codes that govern behavior, particularly those that limit access to social capital.

Who has the Internet Empowered?  Rethinking the Relationship between Women and ICTs in the Developing World

Meredith Anderson.
2007. Circumventing the Digital Divide: Lessons from Kerala Experience. Edited by Antony Palackal and Wesley Shrum.

Are information and communication technologies (ICT) actually functioning to promote gender equality in the developing world? Western development discourse often views the adoption of ICT by developing nations in an extremely optimistic manner.  Recent feminist critiques of western development policies, however, hold that these technologies are ethnocentric in nature and seldom applied in a manner consistent with local context. This study investigates the degree to which the diffusion of ICT has improved the resource acquisition capabilities of female scientists in Kerala , India , over the past decade. By delimiting the scope of my investigation in this manner, I am able to account for assess the impact of ICT in a manner consistent with the sociocultural climate as well as the particular needs and abilities of the respondents. I conclude that, although the patrifocal social structure remains firmly in tact, Indian women scientists have taken advantage of the social and professional opportunities made available to them by the diffusion of these technologies. As Indian women scientists utilize ICTs to circumvent limitations imposed by the patrifocal social structure, they simultaneously advance their disciplines and promote social equality for women.

Gender stratification and e-science: Can the internet circumvent patrifocality?

Palackal, A., M. Anderson, B. P. Miller, and W. Shrum
2006. In C. Hine (Ed.), New Infrastructures of Knowledge Production: Understanding E-Science. Idea Group Publishing.

Internet Equalizer? Gender Stratification and Normative Circumvention in Science

Palackal A , M. Anderson, B. P. Miller and W. Shrum
Indian Journal of Gender Studies (2006)

Gender and connectivity initiatives intended to promote development both assume that the Internet can have a significant impact on the careers and lives of women. This assumption is important to test, given prior research establishing the educational and organizational limitations on women in professional careers that increase the likelihood of restricted networks. This study employs recent qualitative data from scientists in Kerala that modifies the conclusions of initial quantitative research based on the data in 2000 and provides some grounds for optimism.

Gender and Science in Developing Areas: Has the Internet Reduced Inequality

Miller, B.P., R. Sooryamoorthy, M. Anderson, A. Palackal, W. Shrum
2006. Social Science Quarterly 87 (3): 679-689.

This paper examines the impact of the Internet on the research careers of female scientists in three developing areas: Ghana, Kenya, and Kerala, India. Most empirical studies of gender and science focus on the developed world, yet theoretical accounts emphasize more extreme differences in developing areas. Limited evidence from Africa and Asia shows gender inequity is restricted to a few key dimensions, broadly related to differences in human and social capital. Specifically, women are less likely to acquire an advanced degree and more likely to experience educational and organizational “localism.” Such localism is related to constraints on physical mobility that are widely expected to diminish with the introduction of the Internet. Methods. Using longitudinal data on 1147 scientists in Ghana, Kenya, and South India, we examine gender differences in human and social capital by conducting a series of t-tests and chi-square tests. Results. We show that higher education and Internet access increased dramatically, but localism has not been reduced significantly and may be increasing. Conclusions. This finding casts doubt on the presumption that the removal of communication constraints will soon reduce career differentials resulting from the mobility constraints on women professionals.

Gender and Science in Development: Women Scientists in Ghana, Kenya, and India

Patricia Campion and Wesley Shrum
Science, Technology, and Human Values (2004) Vol. 29(4): 459-485.

Why do women have more difficulty pursuing research careers than men? Although this topic has been extensively investigated in industrialized countries, prior studies provide little comparative evidence from less developed areas. Based on a survey of 293 scientists in Ghana, Kenya, and the Indian state of Kerala, we examine gender differences on a variety of individual, social, and organizational dimensions.


Methods and Digital Video Ethnography

Outer Space of Science

Published in “Geographies of Science“, edited by Peter Meusburger, David Livingston and Heike Jöns.

Lessons of the Lower Ninth

Wesley Shrum, Ricardo Duque, Marcus Ynalvez

Technology In Society

This piece discusses epistemological & methodological issues in video ethnography, with particular attention to the experiences of filming in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Digital Video as Research Practice (Draft)

Wesley Shrum, Ricardo Duque, Timothy Brown

Digital Video as Research Practice: Methodology for the Millennium (Published Version)

Journal of Research Practice, 1(1), Article M4, 2005

The main argument of this essay is that a convergence of digital video technologies with practices of social surveillance portends a methodological shift towards a new variety of qualitative methodology. Digital video is changing the way that students of the social world practice their craft, offering not just new ways of presenting but new ways of practicing field research.

Methodology for Studying Research Networks in the Developing World: Generating Information for Science and Technology Policy

W. Shrum and Jack Beggs
1997. Knowledge and Policy 9(4): 62-85.

We describe a multi-faceted approach for generating systematic information on scientific and technological institutions in developing countries based on the concept of the research system as a multi-organizational network. By providing an account of how this approach was implemented in a three country study we hope to shed light on several related problems in developing information for policy.

A Social Network Approach to Research Systems for Sustainable Agricultural Development: Results from a Study of Kenya, Ghana, and Kerala

Wesley Shrum
International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR). Briefing Paper #36. 1997.

This paper describes a social network approach to developing country research systems, taking into account the primary sectors involved in agriculture and natural resource management. It outlines a methodology for producing an inventory of the set of relationships that actually occur rather than purely formal linkages that may or may not have consequences. It describes the kinds of information sources that may be generated through such a technique. Summary results are presented from a study of 137 organizations involved in agriculture and natural resource management in Kenya, Ghana, and Kerala.


Reviews, Overviews, and Outreach

Science, Technology, and Development

W. Shrum
International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Edited by Neil Smelser
and Paul Baltes.

Science and Technology in Less Developed Countries

W. Shrum and Yehouda Shenhav
1995. Handbook of Science, Technology, and Society. Edited by Sheila Jasanoff, Gerald Markle, James Peterson, and Trevor Pinch. Newbury Park: Sage.

Science & Development Network featured the following article on the project following the the World Summit on the Information Society.

Project findings reported in The Hindu

More Internet access needed’ for science to go global


Structures of Scientific Collaboration.  Wesley Shrum, Joel Genuth, and Ivan Chompalov.  MIT Press.  2007.

Past, Present, and Future of Research in the Information Society.  Edited by Wesley Shrum, Keith Benson, Wiebe Bijker, and Klaus Brunnstein.  New York: Springer.  2007.

Information Society and Development: The Kerala Experience.  Edited by Antony Palackal & Wesley Shrum.  2007.  Rawat Books.

Vivarasmoohavum vikasanavum – keralathinte anubhavapadangal (Malayalam) Palackal, Antony and Shrum, Wesley. 2007. Kozhikode: Olive Publications.

Annotated Bibliography of Science and Technology in Less Developed Countries.  Scarecrow Press.  1995.        W. Shrum, Carl Bankston, and D. Stephen Voss.

Organized Technology: Networks and Innovation in Technical Systems.  Purdue University Press.  1985.





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