Internet: A Political Issue for Europe (1970s – 2010s)

Internet: A Political Issue for Europe (1970s – 2010s)

Romain Badouard (University of Cergy-Pontoise, France) and Valérie Schafer (French National Center for Scientific Research (ISCC, CNRS), France)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6038-0.ch006


How has the Internet come about in Europe? How did the “network of networks” and ICTs become political stakes for EU Institutions? This chapter sheds light on facts, limits, and tensions of the building of a political union in the ICT regulation field. It analyses the role of various stakeholders, from technical experts to ordinary citizens, according to a historical approach structured around three key notions: appropriating, governing, and using the Internet. By studying a relatively long period (from the 1970s to the early 2010s) and by observing the Internet as a tool for both internal consolidation and for asserting the EU on the international stage, the authors map the main features and trends that structure the European relationship to the “network of networks.” They, thus, show that the Internet's political dimension encompasses numerous and heterogeneous issues in the European context.
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At the crossroads of History of Innovation, Political Science and Communication studies, this chapter puts into perspective several political stakes of data networks and their uses, according to a diachronic perspective. It relies on fieldworks analysed by the authors during their PhD: the development of e-government and e-participation mechanisms by the European Commission for Romain Badouard, the development of data networks according to an historical perspective for Valérie Schafer (Schafer, 2012). This paper thus intends to contribute to two main research fields.

The first one is related to the birth of a “Europe of technologies,” i.e. the study of the role of technologies in the European construction history. Technologies developments indeed appear to have played a major role in the European construction (Bouneau, Burigana, & Varsori, 2010) to such an extent that we could talk of an “Infrastructural Europeanism” (Schot & Schipper, 2011). Researches dedicated to the development of European data networks have paid a specific attention to the academic actors involved in this history (Davies & Bressan, 2010). We would like this paper to contribute to this field through the analysis of several archival materials: official publications of the European Commission, technical reports from experts, and archives from INRIA, RENATER, CNRS, W3C or ERCIM.

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