Background

Background

This sociological project seeks to understand the ways in which the introduction of the Internet changes interpersonal relationships in the process of knowledge production.

The origin of this project was pure luck. The Dutch government funded a survey to understand the conditions of scientific work in three countries. We did a study in 1994 of scientific communication in Ghana, Kenya and Kerala, India. Only later did we realize that we have the perfect baseline for the study of the effects of the Internet on social relationships.

Participants

Wesley Shrum (Baton Rouge, Louisiana–project director, 1992-present)

Paige Miller (River Falls, Wisconsin–project manager, 2004-present)

Paul Mbatia (Nairobi Kenya, 2000-present)

Antony Palackal (Trivandrum, Kerala, 2002-present)

Dan-Bright Dzorgbo (Accra, Ghana, 2000-present)

Mark Schafer (Kenya coordinator, 2010 +)

Matt LeBlanc (Ghana coordinator, 2011 +)

 

R. Sooryamoorthy (Durban, South Africa, 2000-2006)

Marcus Ynalvez (Laredo, Texas–Phillipines coordinator, 2002–)

Ricardo B. Duque (Vienna, Austria – Chile, Costa Rica coordinator, 2004–)

Meredith Anderson (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2003-2007)

 

Journal

Hostel of Doom, a graduate student’s true-life tale of captivity in the Nairobi YMCA.  Summer 2002.

Ghana 2003, Field Note from Ghana.

Biographies

Wesley Shrum

I am a Professor of Sociology at LSU, where I have been since 1982 when I received my Ph.D. from Princeton.  My dissertation was on the topic of scientific communication in the U.S., in the context of two ‘technical systems’: radioactive waste management and solar photovoltaics.  After some years and scholarship, I switched my focus over to developing areas, and have been working in Kenya, Ghana, and Kerala (India) since 1992.

Paul Mbatia is currently a Senior Lecturer and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of Nairobi. He attained his first two degrees (B.A. and M.A.) in 1985 and 1988 respectively at the University of Nairobi. In 1996, he attained his Ph.D. in Sociology at Indiana University, USA. He has been at the University of Nairobi at both undergraduate and postgraduate level for over 13 years, pursuing academic interests in the sociology of development, social change, science & technology, research methods and the management of health care by the State in developing countries. Besides teaching, Dr. Mbatia has conducted many academic research projects and consultancies for local and international organizations in Kenya.

Overall, in his teaching and research engagements, Dr. Mbatia has sought to understand the role of the African State in development. Currently, he is also involved in the World Science Project that seeks to understand, inter alia, how Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) have impacted on the lifestyles and productivity of scientists and researchers in developing countries.

Antony Palackal
Currently teaching in the Post Graduate Department of Sociology in Loyola College of Social Sciences, Kerala, India. I have been the Director of the Project CHILDLINE Nodal agency, Trivandrum, Kerala, India – a project of the Government of India, in partnership with UNICEF and NGOs in 2000–2002. I have worked as the Coordinator, Study Abroad Programme of Cleveland State University, Ohio, U.S.A from 1999-2001. I have Coordinated the activities of Street Educators Counselling Training Programme, a project of UNICEF and NISD (National Institute for Social Welfare) New Delhi fro the Southern Region in India, comprising four states. I have done my post graduation in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University and obtained PhD from University of Kerala, India for the doctoral dissertation in the area of Globalization and Culture. Besides having published several research and popular articles, I have authored ‘Culture, Resistance and Spirituality’ in the regional language (2000), and co-authored ‘Managing Water and Water Users – Experience from Kerala’ (2003). Areas of specialization include Sociology of Development, Social Movements, Cultural Dynamics and Gender and Society. I work as a consultant and trainer to several NGOs and socio-political movements in Kerala.

I have been associating with World Science Project in the capacity of India Coordinator since 2002. In connection with the study, I have organised and supervised quantitative surveys in Kerala with the help of a team of postgraduates, guided and supervised the coding of the quantitative data and conducted qualitative interviews with the scientists in Trivandrum, Kerala. I have also guided and supervised the coding of qualitative interviews from all the areas of the study in QSR Nvivo – software for the coding of qualitative data. Collaborating with a committed team of researchers with Prof. Wesley Shrum, a seasoned academician as the team leader has been a true growth experience for me both academically and personally. Having associated with a research programme that studies professional collaboration, networking etc, offered me personally enriching experience and valuable lessons in these areas.

Dan-Bright Dzorgbo is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Ghana, Legon. His major research interests include Social and Economic Issues in Development, Political Development, Governance and Democratization, the Social and Economic and Behavioral Dimension of Health, and the Patterns and Impact of Scientific Communication in Ghana and Africa. Address: Sociology Department University of Ghana P. O. Box LG 65 Legon-Ghana; telephone: 233 21 500312 Ext.6161/6084; cell phone: 233 20 8152665; email: ddzorgbo@yahoo.co.uk

Marcus Ynalvez is instructor at the Louisiana State University Department of Sociology. He teaches statistics and research methods. Marcus’ research interest is at the intersection of science and technology studies, international development, and social networks. He is particularly interested in studying the sociology of techno-scientific systems and the sociology of technical disasters.

Since joining the department in 2001, Marcus has been working with Professor Wesley Shrum on the World Science Project, which examines the impact of new information and communication technologies on the nature and structure of knowledge production in developing countries (Chile, Ghana, India, Kenya, the Philippines, and South Africa). In this capacity, Marcus had the opportunity to manage and coordinate face-to-face surveys of 315 Filipino scientists in January to March 2005, and 300 Kenyan scientists in June-July 2005.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Marcus has been involved with the departments’ Displaced People Needs Assessment Study, wherein he was one of the analysts who conducted qualitative digital video interviews of evacuees in the Baton Rouge area. At present, He is also involved with the Department’s on-going New Orleans Levee Breach Study. The purpose of this project is to delve into the social aspects of the levee breach and connect these with the engineering and technical aspects.

Ricardo B. Duque. has been a professor of sociology since 2007.  After finishing his Ph.D. at Louisiana State University in 2007, he was a visiting professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana lecturing in Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Science, Global Social Change, and the Sociology of Disaster.

He has managed international survey projects and video-ethnographic productions in Africa and Latin America as well as in the United States.  Most recently he helped produce and film documentaries on (1) political violence in Kenya and its impact on the research community there and (2) the social-technical aftermath of hurricane Katrina in South Louisiana.

For the past seven years he has assisted in a variety of capacities to organize annual conferences of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).   Over the last three years, he has helped organize paper sessions that feature Science, Technology and Society scholarship originating within Latin America and about this under-served region.

Meredith Anderson worked with the project from 2003 through 2007.  She is a qualitative methodologist whose research interests lie in the intersection of science, technology, gender and development. She focused on the manner in which the Internet has impacted the social and professional networks of female scientists in Kerala, India, publishing several papers with Antony Palackal and Wesley Shrum on the idea of ‘circumvention,’ the use of new ICTs to circumvent traditional gender roles.  Subsequently, she turned her attention to the development and operation of the well known Kundumbashree organization of women’s groups in Kerala.

Paige Miller is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls.  She received her PhD in sociology from Louisiana State University in 2009 and has been a part of the project since 2004.  Her current research and publications focus on gender differences in the scientific career over time.

 

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