Threat Talk

The Comparative Politics of Internet Addiction

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  • Mary Manjikian, Robertson School of Government, Regent University, USA
  • 'Threat Talk' exposes how US and Chinese scientists and policy-makers have understood and responded to the problem of internet addiction in their societies. Is the internet good or bad for society?

    American analysts like Lessig and Zittrain suggest that the internet is inherently liberating and positive for society, while Morozov and Sageman warn that the internet poses risks to citizens and societies. Using a comparative framework to illustrate how the two states differ in their assessments of the risks to citizens posed by the introduction of new technology, Mary Manjikian compellingly argues that both 'risk' and 'disease' are ideas which are understood differently at different historic periods and in different cultures. Her culturalist approach claims that the internet is neither inherently helpful, nor inherently threatening. Rather, its role and the dangers it poses may be understood differently by different societies. Is the internet good or bad for society? The answer, it appears, is 'it depends'.
  • Contents: Preface; Risk assessment, power and the politics of fear; Psychiatry, antipsychiatry and internet addiction; Critical psychiatry and the construction of internet addiction; Biosecurity and the securitization of internet addiction; Internet addiction and the assault on Chinese values; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: Mary Manjikian is an Assistant Professor in the Robertson School of Government, Regent University, USA. She has served as a Visiting Professor at the College of William and Mary and at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk. A former foreign service officer, Mary has also served as Assistant Press Attaché in The Hague, Netherlands; Assistant Cultural Attaché for Educational Affairs in Moscow, Russia, and Press Attaché in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Reviews: '… the book succeeds in providing a thoughtful demonstration of how cultural and philosophical lenses determine problem definition. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' Choice

    'The volume provides a truly original contribution to Social Constructivism and internet studies alike by showing how the perceived purpose and function of a technology are not the same across countries. Investigating the case of "internet addiction" in the United States and China, it is fascinating reading for students and scholars in Political Science, Sociology and Psychology.'
    Giampiero Giacomello, University of Bologna, Italy

    'Threat Talk by Professor Manjikian is an interesting and thoroughly researched book that exhibits solid out of the box thinking, cross disciplinary research, and case study insight into the politics of internet addiction.'
    Kevin Cooney, Northwest University, USA

    'Written in a lively and engaging manner, Threat Talk explores how states understand and respond to the challenge of cyber-addiction. Drawing from a rich set of cases including China and the United States, Manjikian persuasively argues that societies' values, beliefs, and cultural traditions are the critical determinants. The broader point she makes-that technology may sharpen rather than flatten political differences across states-is provocative, counter-intuitive, and ultimately convincing. A fascinating read for scholars and generalists alike.'
    Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations, USA

    '… earnest, conscientious, scholarly treatise - scrupulously post-modern in its attention to narratives and discourse… In much of the world, internet adoption is still more a matter of finance than technology. The economic aspects of the situation are hardly touched on, a missed opportunity. But Threat Talk repays study as sincere, comprehensive and conscientious survey of the issues in this important debate.' The Round Table

    'Manjikian’s study is well written, extensively researched and well worth logging off for a while to read.' Media International Australia

    'Works on the use of the Internet in China and its consequences are numerous, but in this book Mary Manjikian is nevertheless able to shed new insights by including models derived from psychology. Her analysis of the interplay between assumptions of individual and collective risk presents a convincing picture of the construction of “Internet addiction” as a disease in contemporary China. She also relates this to more far-reaching questions, such as security issues, as well as to discussions on the potential of the Internet to change China and the underlying question of how far the Chinese government may be able to control the Internet. … The book offers a fascinating view of China and China’s Internet policy through social constructivism and critical theories.' The China Journal