Raül Trejo Delarbre
Latin American social research about the Internet and digital technologies has been defined by a multifaceted and copious development. Since the initial studies in the mid-1990s, researchers have attended to general issues like the digital divide, national and regional politics of Internet expansion, and the distinctively Latin American political and social expressions on the web. Gradually, that research was oriented toward more specific issues like citizenship on the Internet, cyber-journalism, the construction of personal relations, and, more recently, social networks. This chapter describes the trajectory of these studies and the arguments of leading Latin American scholars in this area. While the diverse collection of works that collectively comprise “Latin American Internet research” does not constitute a school with its own theoretical models, Trejo Delarbre explains, there are nevertheless common foci and priorities within this body of scholarship. The author recommends that his generation of media scholars seize their unique perspective, having experienced the transition from analog to digital and from mass media to Internet, with all of the disruptive challenges this transition has posed and imposed – especially in cultures so deeply defined by a lack of access for so many.
The first Latin American studies of the Internet adopted cautious approaches, stemming ...