More than a Common Place: A Social Representations Approach to the Internet

  • Luciano Moreira CETAPS – Centre for English, Translation, and Anglo-Portuguese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto
  • Mauro Sarrica
  • Carla Morais
  • João Carlos Paiva
Keywords: internet, social representations, attitudes, digital literacy


This article aims to investigate the common sense knowledge about the Internet across social groups from the perspective of social representations theory. We inquired 1013 participants (students, teachers, and guardians) from three schools, using the ranked association technique, the General Internet Attitudes Scale and the Web-Use Skill Measure Index. Prototypical and textual correspondence analysis were run on the verbal data. Results showed that the Internet’s representation vary across social groups, being organized along a media-message axis and a personal-social axis. While students, participants with lower education level and positive attitudes toward the Internet have a personal media usage representation, teachers and participants with higher education levels showed a greater focus on the social message. The study is significant because it shows that the Internet is still not consensual, suggesting a connection with social identity that future research should explore to better understand and bridge digital divide.

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