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Virtual Society? Get Real!

Virtual Society? Get Real!


4-5th May 2000

Ashridge House



The last few years have seen a burgeoning awareness of the potential impact of new electronic technologies. We now recognise the crucial need to understand the social circumstances which can realise technological benefits, to temper cyberbole with sober social scientific research. Frameworks have been developed to help us ask: to what extent are significant changes in the ways we interact, relate to each other and organise ourselves associated with the new technologies. So what now are the prospects for a "virtual society"? Are we now at the point where we might consider removing the question mark Should we replace it with an exclamation mark! Or should we now redouble our analytic scepticism??

This major international conference is being held to reflect on the current state of the art. It marks the culmination of 2 years research under the UK’s ESRC Programme: Virtual Society? the social science of electronic technologies. The conference brings together researchers working both in and beyond the VS? Programme. The aim is to take stock, to reflect on the wider perspective and to identify the best ways forward. Keynote speakers are asked to respond to the central concerns and emerging findings of the current research. Other speakers will focus on the most exciting aspect of their research to date.

The conference will be held on 4-5th May 2000 at Ashridge House conference centre, Hertfordshire, north west of London. 

Sub themes include:

  • e-commerce: has the bubble burst?
  • resisting the virtual life
  • education
  • self, responsibility and ethics
  • space, place and locality
  • social exclusion
  • what to do with counter-intuitive findings?
  • privacy issues
  • ICTs, audit and accountability

Keynote speakers include Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge), Jonathan Re (Middlesex), Mel Pollner (UC Los Angeles) and Deborah Heath (Lewis and Clark).

Other speakers also include: Steve Brown (Loughborough), Roger Burrows (York), Eleanor Burt (Glasgow Caledonian), Steve Carver (Leeds), Charles Crook (Loughborough), Penny Harvey (Manchester), John Hughes (Lancaster), Tracey Ibbotson (Glasgow), David Knights (Keele), Scott Lash (Goldsmiths), Martin Lea (Manchester), Sonia Liff (Warwick), Paul Light (Bournemouth), Brian Loader (Teesside), David Mason (Plymouth), Brian McGrail (Open University), David Morrison (Leeds), Charles Raab (Edinburgh), Kevin Robins (Goldsmiths), Neville Stanton (Brunel), Peter Swann (Manchester), Frank Webster (Birmingham) and Sally Wyatt (UEL).

Abstracts and full papers can be accessed via the conference programme.

If you would like to receive further information, please contact:

Virtual Society? Programme
Sad Business School
University of Oxford
59 George Street
Oxford OX1 2BE
+44 (0)1865 288667
+44 (0)1865 288668 (fax)

Conference programme
Conference pictures
Conference review (by Nicola Doering)


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Contents current at 30th June 2000