The Social, Political, Economic, and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines: An Introduction

Authors: Eszter Hargittai

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Citation: Hargittai, E. (2007). The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines. Special Section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. April.


Search engines are some of the most popular destinations on the Web. Understandably so, given the vast amounts of information available to users and the need for help in sifting through online content. While the results of significant technical achievements, search engines are also embedded in social processes and institutions that influence how they function and how they are used. This special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication explores these non-technical aspects of search engines and their uses.


  • Introduction
  • Earlier work
  • Methodological challenges
  • In this special section
  • Future directions
  • Conclusion


I would like to thank JCMC Editor Susan Herring for supporting this special section. I am grateful to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences for affording me the time and supportive environment necessary for such a project. Moreover, the peer review system of journal publishing would not work if it were not for the many generous colleagues who give their time and effort to reading and commenting on others’ writing. For this collection, I relied on researchers from many disciplines and institutions for feedback. I am grateful to the following people for having served as reviewers: Alessandro Acquisti, Lada Adamic, Eytan Adar, Elisabeth Anderson, Paul Baker, Dania Bilal, Michaela DeSoucey, Martin de Santos, Julian Dierkes, Corey Fields, Santo Fortunato, Jeremy Freese, Jason Gallo, Anne Holohan, David Huffaker, Divya Kumar, Sheree Josephson, Dan Li, Adrienne Massanari, Sara Nephew, John Quiggin, Soo Young Rieh, Andrea Tartaro, David Tewksbury, Jan van Dijk, Gina Walejko, James Webster, and Elaine Yuan. Their comments helped improve the manuscripts in this collection.

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