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Internet Usage: Major Theoretical Theories Report

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Updated: Oct 6th, 2021


The world has become a global village, thanks to the development and rapid growth of the internet. From its humble beginnings in the 1960’s, internet has grown tremendously to become one of the leading stimulants of socio-economic development in countries that have embraced its usage. The term global village is used here to define a world that has almost been rendered borderless through exponential use of the internet and the World Wide Web. Communication has been globalized by modern communication technologies. People from all walks of life around the globe are now able to communicate with one another and discuss issues, ideas, and thoughts in real time.

This has all been facilitated by the internet. There no longer exists physical distance hindrance for people who want to communicate and conduct business in real time. The internet has also opened up the social world, where people can actively interact with others online. Social network sites such as Facebook have become extremely important to youths who want to interact with friends around the world (Global Village – Internet, 2008).

Perhaps the most commonly frequented sites in the World Wide Web are the interactive sites. These are sites that allow users to interact and share ideas, thoughts, music, videos, pictures, and other niceties online in real time. Millions of people, especially those in their teens are spending considerable amount of their time browsing these sites (Ritchtel and Stone, 2007). Such sites include Facebook, Yahoo messaging, Adultfriendfinder, etc. while some have been useful in helping people across the world bond and exchange ideas, other interactive sites are potentially harmful to users, especially the youngsters.

In the US for example, there has been reported cases of teenagers who hook up with strangers in these websites only for them to get murdered or sexually exploited by them. This essay attempts to describe the four major theoretical theories of Conflict, Functionalism, Symbolic Interaction, and Post Modernist in relation to Internet usage.

Conflict Theory

This theory looks at society as a cluster of units made of the upper, middle, and the lower categories of individuals. The units are in continued conflict with one another basically because they hold varying and conflicting interests. The conflict that is characteristic of these units is only checked through the domination of an elite, exploitive and oppressive group of people. Society experiences change due to the continued conflict within these units.

This theory also views the “have-nots” in society as being unjustly treated by the social systems set by the society. Such social systems are used by the dominant group in society to promote their own interests and guard their own assets regardless of the views of the disadvantaged members of society. Social systems in society may include the family unit, the political system as well as the education system.To brings an end to this conflict, power and wealth must be redistributed again through either a process of revolution or reform (Ratcliff, 2008).

The term revolution has been widely used and widely abused. In a layman’s language, a revolution occurs when society changes the State. It happens when groups of people, connected by same needs and urges, take a concerted effort together in attempting to alter the nature of the State. Revolutions are not always successful, but if successful, they change the status quo of the dominant people over the common people forever. Successful revolutions have happened in US, France, China, and India. Reforms on the other hand involve changing part of the system that is deemed to be retrogressive to a country and its people (Sociology of Revolutions, 2006). But both do bring an element of social change.

Conflict theory can thus be used to explain how the internet has continued to be used by the majority of people in society who are disadvantaged by the “social systems” to bring about social change. The dominant group has continually used the education system to suppress the “have-nots” as knowledge is power. But the internet has revolutionalized that perception in that the “have-nots” can now use the internet to gather the required knowledge to bring about social change in the system (Nauert, 2006).

Functionalism Theory

The functionalists define society as comprised of interrelated parts, which are normally in balance with one another. Every single part is useful for the smooth running and performance of society. A part or unit becomes unnecessary when it is overtaken by its usefulness in serving other parts in the interrelationship. Such a part must thus be changed or it becomes extinct. This theory holds the view that gradual change in society arise as the social systems try to adjust to difficulties and innovations (Ratcliff, 2008).

The internet has made it possible for us to have one big global society that is comprised of many individuals that try to work in tandem in their communications with one another. For example, what happens in the US is an instant big story in Asia, and affects everything from stock markets to government policies. There is an abstract balance and when one part malfunctions, it affects all the other parts. This has been made possible by the continued use of the internet and the World Wide Web. Society has continued to change due to the innovations of the internet, albeit rapidly (Global Village – Internet, 2008).

Symbolic Interaction

The theory of Symbolic Interaction is based on the premise that individuals always make social constructions of reality depending on the interpretations of our daily experiences. All the social situations we involve ourselves in have shared definitions. The theory holds the view that, meanings to our daily situations are always conferred upon interpretation of events and contexts. People always react differently based on their interpretation of particular situations. The theory stresses vocal as well as non-vocal symbols as major determinants of our interpretations to certain situations (Ratcliff, 2008).

This theory can find its meaning in the numerous groups of people who continue to use the internet for different reasons. The internet has revolutionalised the thought system of individuals. Internet users always make social constructions of reality based on the materials they view and how they interact over the net. This perhaps can explain the numerous reports that police continue to receive on murders and cannibalism facilitated through the use of Internet (Landler, 2002).

On a lighter note, increased internet usage seems to give weight to the fact that all social situations that individuals engage in do have some shared definitions. This can explain the rapid growth of social networking sites such us Youtube, Facebook, and Adultfriendfinder. People always network over the internet due to the fact that they share some interests depending on how they interpret their daily experiences.

Post Modernist Theory

In a nutshell, the theory holds the view that modernism has its basic flaws in its scheme of communication. Modernism is a term which derives its usage from cultural movements entrenched in the transformations of the western world in the late 19th and 20th Century. It is a school of thought that amplifies the strength of mankind to develop, improve, and redesign the surroundings, with the aid of scientific information, technology or practical testing (Modernism, 2008). Rapid economic and technological advancements have brought forward a decentralized and media-dominated society. In this global society, ideas are only copies of each other and thus lack originality, stability, and objectivity (Social theory, 2008).

This theory rightly explains what is happening in our society today as regarding internet usage. Internet was developed to serve mankind but it has continued to be used for all the negative reasons. People have become so internet-dominated and many ideas that most internet users hold in common are only inter-referential illustrations and duplicates of other ideas posted on the net. This has made many internet materials to lack in originality, objectivity and stability (Global village – internet).

Works cited page

– Internet. 2008. Web.

Landler, Mark. “The New York Times. 2002. Web.

. 2008. Web.

Nauert, Rick. The Internet as Agent of Social Change. 2006. PsychCentral. Web.

Ratcliff, Donald. Creation, Redemption and Sociological Theory. 2008. Web.

Richard, Matt, and Brad Stone. “Interactive Sites Serve Young Internet Users, in Particular Preteen Girls.” Herald Tribune. 2007. Web.

Sociology of Revolutions. 2008. Web.

Social Theory. 2008. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Internet Usage: Major Theoretical Theories'. 6 October.

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