The Imaginaries of RuNet

The Change of the Elites and the Construction of Online Space

In: Russian Politics
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  • 1 Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom,
  • | 2 Department of Social Sciences, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia,
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By exploring the changes among online elites who have constructed the Internet, this article traces the unique history of the Russian Internet (RuNet). Illustrating how changes in online elites can be associated with changes in the socio-political role of the online space in general, it concludes that, although the Internet is of global nature, its space is constructed on the level of nation, culture and language. To show this, the article presents five stages in the development of RuNet, suggesting that the change in the stages is associated with the relationship of power between, first, actors (users, developers, the government, etc.) that construct Internet space and, second, alternative elites that emerge online and the traditional elites that seek to take the online space under their control by making their imaginary dominate.

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