The purpose of this study is to build theory explaining how the Internet and related online communication technologies such as America Online and electronic bulletin boards are affecting--and affected by--the power and cultural relationships in society. Specifically, my theoretical question is:
How does online communication mediate the relationship between culture and power?
It is my thesis that the nexus of culture and power is the concept Antonio Gramsci (1971) called hegemony--and that online communication is the most fertile media technology for fostering hegemony yet invented.
I present the qualitative foundation for a full theory of hegemony online, but I do not believe it is possible to quantitatively test all the parts of this complex, cybernetic process within the bounds of one study. I will, however, make the start that is necessary, if not sufficient. The research question I will quantitatively attack in this study is:
What variables best predict the usage of hegemony online?
To answer this, of course, I must attempt to operationalize hegemony online. Toward that end, I delineate 14 specific hypotheses, drawn from my review and synthesis of the literature. These hypotheses are what McLuhan calls scientific statements; i.e., “something stated in such a manner that it could be disproved” (McLuhan, M., & McLuhan, E., 1988, p. viii).