Stop press! Research results now available


Our Vision

If we accept the argument that developing technological capabilities does involve a complex, endogenous process of change, negotiated and mediated both within organisations and at the level of society at large, it is obvious that policies cannot and should not be limited to addressing the economic integration of technological change, but must include all aspects of its broader social integration.  We thus reject the notion of technology as an external variable to which society and individuals, whether at work or in the home, must adapt (Building the European Information Society for Us All, Final Policy Report of the High-Level Expert Group, European Commission , 1997).

The Fifth RTD Framework Programme of the EU is presented under the heading Creating a user-friendly information society. It has as its main objective the realisation of “benefits of the information society for Europe both by accelerating its emergence and by ensuring that the needs of individuals and enterprises are met”.
The European Media, Technology and Everyday Life Network  (EMTEL) addresses this agenda directly. 

EMTEL is a research and training network of European social scientists investigating the social dimensions of the Information Society in Europe. It includes 7 partners in 6 different countries (Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, the UK). It involves more than 20 scholars, working on 7 different projects, 2 Key Themes, providing training and research resources to 8 Young Research Fellows. 

A co-ordinated research and training programme addresses, from a user point of view, key issues and problems of the Information Society through a series of thematically interrelated case studies. EMTEL’s objective is to investigate the realities and dynamics of the User Friendly Information Society . 

Our Past

New technologies have had substantial effects on the ways in which organisations function.  Considerable research has been devoted to the economic and commercial aspects of the Information Society.  So far very little attention has been given to the social implications of these potentially revolutionary developments: to the ways in which individual citizens and consumers adapt to, and adopt, new technologies and services.  We urgently need to understand the implications of their willingness to do so, as well as the sources of their resistance.  For their quality of life, for their capacity to work, for their social institutions, especially the family, the community, and for their meaningful participation in all aspects of European society.

EMTEL, building on research conducted as a network funded by the EC in its Human Capital and Mobility programme (1995-8) and drawing on an emerging global research agenda to which it has already made a significant contribution, will deepen and extend socio-economic research on the Information Society in order directly to affect policy making and market management in the twenty-first century.

Our Strategy

Through a series of carefully designed, interrelated and co-ordinated studies EMTEL will investigate the individual and social dimensions of the emerging Information Society.  EMTEL will focus on the everyday life of the European citizen and consumer.  It will examine the realities of the new ways of living and working that are seen to be at the core of the Information Society.  It will explore the ways in which new technologies can be more effectively integrated into the social fabric of the Union, and the ways in which the citizens and consumers of the Union can be effectively integrated into the Information Society.

The speed of technological change goes on unabated.  Societies change more slowly.  Impacts are never uniform or consistent.  Markets emerge unpredictably and disappear as fast.  Competition is intense.  New policies are required to manage and to steer the complex interrelationship of technological and social change.  Information policies and social policies may need to converge.

The aim of the project is to provide policy makers and market managers, as well as the academic community, with empirically grounded evidence of the social dynamics of the emerging Information Society and on the new ways of living and working that this makes possible.  It will engage critically with the assumptions underlying the discourses surrounding the Information Society. 

A number of Reports and Green Papers from the Commission have identified key areas where more research and a deeper understanding of the social dimensions of the information society is called for.  From these and other publications EMTEL has identified seven interrelated thematic areas where it will undertake research in order to generate an incisive, conceptual and empirical investigation of the character and dynamics of the Information Society as it is experienced by individuals in their everyday lives.

These are: community, exclusion, citizenship, quality of life, flexibility, consumption, and domesticity.  Each of these thematic areas will be explored in the research through discrete, but comparative and interrelated, case-studies. Each of these thematic areas will be linked to, and inform, policy making at all levels of the Community.  Each partner in the network, building on existing expertise, will take primary responsibility for one thematic area.


Six out of the seven teams in the current project were, in one way or another, members of the EMTEL Network funded under the Human Capital and Mobility Programme (1995-8).  TNO and ASCoR collaborated in that programme.  Media@lse brings faculty previously with the Sussex team in that project.  The seventh team, from the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, is an EU JRC, and brings to EMTEL a wealth of relevant and complementary expertise. 

EMTEL’s programme of research promises to provide a major breakthrough in the social understanding of the Information Society and how this will lead to new ways of living and working.  Comparative studies will be conducted alongside detailed case studies.  A major work of synthesis is in prospect, as are a number of innovative analyses.  So far European social science has failed to address social and individual dimensions of technological change in this area from the point of view of their meaning, their significance and their consequences for everyday life.  EMTEL will change this. This is our vision.

Anne-Jorunn Berg
Thomas Berker
Marc Bogdanowicz
Kees Brants
Jean-Claude Burgelman
Bart Cammaerts
Ken Ducatel
Valerie Frissen
Myria Georgiou
Maren Hartmann
François Pichault
Yves Punie
Paschal Preston
Paul Rutten
Roger Silverstone
Knut H. Sørensen
Katie Ward