Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD


STS Occasional Paper - What is Net Neutrality?

7 September 2018

In recent years, the concept of Net Neutrality has become a heated talking point, both in the media and online - but what is Net Neutrality? Has the internet ever been neutral?

During last year's (2017-18) Investigating Contemporary Science module, STS students spent ten weeks using the analytical tools they had learned in STS, to select and investigate the topic of Net Neutrality, and to produce a report for policymakers, with the individual chapters forming the basis of their assessment.

The final report considers issues such as whether the internet has ever been neutral, who stands to gain from a repeal of net-neutrality and the evolution of the internet as a tool for freedom of expression. It concluded that the current debate about net neutrality is too polarised and needs to be opened up to take account of nuanced arguments about the kind of future we want with the internet. The report also contains a series of recommendations for policymakers.

The authors of Occasional Paper 8 - (l-r) Raphael Piccolin, Daniel Shuttlewood, Ho Cheung, Josh Huntley, Alice Conway, April Wheeler, Alia Asad, Ralitsa Tchobanova, and Jason Murugesu (Holly Clarke was unavailable)

This report is now available as part of the STS Occasional Papers series, a collection of papers disseminating current research undertaken by our staff and affiliated scholars. This paper - number 8 in the series - is the first work by current STS students to be included in the series, and we congratulate them on seeing their hard work pay off.

You can read the paper, including summaries of each chapter, conclusions and recommendations, here - STS Occasional Paper 8.

Other occasional papers include Maja Horst's Reframing Science Communication: Culture, Identity, and Organisations, Helen Longino's  Underdetermination: A Dirty Little Secret and Simon Schaffer's Mutability, mobility and meteorites: on some material cultures of the sciences. All of these papers and more can be found on the STS Occasional Papers page.