Internet and prospects of sociology


  • Alexander M. DOLGORUKOV Lomonosov Moscow State University



sociological theory, network approach, social networks, network analysis, structural network analysis, relational sociology, spontaneous hypertext, semiosphere, semiotic streams, big data, object of sociology, ontology, dynamic metaphor


This article examines how the Internet and new data analytics challenges established epistemologies. Opportunities and limitations of two different sociologic approaches related to the social network analysis – “social network analysis” and “relational sociology” – are considered by the author. With the emergence of the Internet several new topics have been put on the sociological agenda: social network analysis, big data; rethinking the methodology of data collection and production; changing nature of the object of sociology. The basic conclusions are as follows. The online space, from its origins until now, has been an amorphous social phenomenon without existing structures (social forms), without institutional hierarchy but with strong and frequent new semiotic streams, with a topology not yet known to us. Credible hypotheses including such categories as “human”, “culture”, “structures” should be proposed to understand and forecast the evolution of the complicated social systems. Sociologists will get rid of the naturalistic absolutization of such categories as “space”, “time”, “social structures”. New practices and social technologies will be introduced to better understand and predict things, events and meanings. The semiotics will take strong positions in sociological studies; it will deal with the observed socio-cultural phenomena (system of proximity, myths, fashion, behavior patterns) providing researchers with an “access code” to the everyday life.