Internet-Behavior Typology and Characteristic Features: Cross-National Comparative Analysis
Bodovskaya E1, Dombrovskaya A1*, Gibaulin R1, Kazachenko S1 and Batalina I2
1Moscow State Pedagogical University,
2Tula State University, Tula, Russia
- *Corresponding Author:
- Dombrovskaya A
Moscow State Pedagogical University
Received date: October 03, 2016; Accepted date: November 05, 2016; Published date: November 13, 2016
Citation: Bodovskaya E, Dombrovskaya A,
Gibaulin R, et al. Internet-Behavior Typology
and Characteristic Features: Cross-National
Comparative Analysis. Global Media Journal.
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This study is aimed at identifying the main types of Internet-behavior and comparing their characteristics among the inhabitants of different countries. Respondents’ Internet-behavior typology is carried out based on the results of opinion polls that have been conducted in 13 World Internet Project member countries (China, Chile, Republic of Cyprus, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Taiwan, UK, Uruguay and USA). This typology includes social clusters: "innovators", "traditionalists", "entertained", "pragmatic" and "disconnected". Settings of Internet intensity use and consumed content are quantitative and qualitative criteria for their differentiation. The research presents detailed characteristics of selected types of Internet behavior. Authors compare the proportion of their prevalence in each of studied countries, describe and define the specifics of determinism. Overall, the findings indicate that the characteristics of the national structure of types of Internet behaviors are driven both by levels of ICTs development and by social factors. Authors argue that national models, in which "innovators" and "pragmatists" dominate, are the most effective.
Internet-behavior; Social communication, Social cluster; Comparative
analysis; People on the Internet
Dotcom revolution changed the nature of social behaviour in
many ways opening tremendous opportunities to people that
were previously not available for them. Improved data speed
gave the opportunity for people to read, share and react to the
situation in the surrounding society with a much higher rate [1,2].
Internet seemed to be something special back in the mid 90-ies,
something available only to advanced geeks, but now it has become
a part of everyday life . People have integrated the Internet into
their routine existence as a way of communication that allows
surfing between the networking, even if they are not there. As a
result, the In computer, mobile phone and other gadgets. They were
able to maintain contact with right people in large social nternet has
become not only a means of communication, but also a tool to find
information, advice and help in decision-making. Modern young
people cannot imagine their life without network communication
. They actually see no difference between virtual and real life.
Although not everyone uses global network in such way, but the
overall trend is clear: Internet-behavior has become an important
feature of modern society.
On the Internet, the physical distance between the subjects
does not play a significant role for communication, not only
space and time are erased, but there is convergence of cultures,
ideologies, traditions and values [5,6]. However, despite the fact
that the Internet has become one of the powerful tools and even
a symbol of globalization, the users’ behavior on the Web differs
considerably in different countries. Internet-behavior national
specificity will largely determine the direction and effectiveness
of the impact of modern ICT in social, economic and political
processes. Therefore, the study of these characteristics, their
typology and comparisons are actual scientific problem.
The purpose of this study is to identify the main types of Internetbehavior
and to compare their characteristics among the
inhabitants of different countries.
- carry out surveys in selected countries with the use of variables
revealing the behavioral aspect of Internet usage;
- implement the typology of allocated Internet-behavior clusters
under conducted surveys;
- describe the main types of Internet-behavior;
- compare Internet-behavior features in the countries where the
research was conducted.
Scientific interest in the study of behavior characteristics of people
on the Internet in the global network is determined by the need
to improve the efficiency of Internet communication in different
spheres of society life. Represent research pays attention to the
study of Internet-behavior formation features in various member
countries of World Internet Project (WIP), which is the first study
in social sciences.
Views on ICT effect on the population
Exploring the social consequences of ICT rapid development,
social scientists focus their attention on two scientific aspects: on
the one hand, they are studying the effects of Internet's impact
on the behavior of social actors, and on the other - are exploring
the Internet as a new space of social communication [2,7]. M.
Castells  and B. Wellman  carried out independently studies
that have shown the Internet has led to profound changes in
social structures, in particular, organizational outsourcing, work
functions in changing teams, and overall increase in social roles
. Schmidt and Cohen  called those, who have the access to
global network, "network club" members and proved that the
potential impact on the economy, politics and social sphere of 2
billion "network club" members is incomparably higher than of
five billion people that cannot enter into the “club” immediately.
Articles, in which the authors trace the correlation between
the features of Internet-behavior and socio-economic, cultural,
demographic, national and mental characteristics of people on the
Internet, are of particular interest in the context of the research
[6,10]. Tufekci , who studied the behavior of American college
students, concluded drastic changes in behavior that occur in
their environment and radically re-structures previous social
"solitude in crowd" relations .
Blank  carried out a typological analysis of the so-called
Internet cultures. Because of this method of hierarchical cluster
analysis, scientists have identified five types of Internet culture
among British Web-users: e-Mersives (12% of UK Internet users);
Techno-pragmatists (17%); Cyber-savvy (19% of Internet users);
Cyber-moderates (37%); Adigitals (14% of Internet users). Herein,
in accordance with World Wide Web Foundation data ,
Britain ranked fourth place in the world in terms of development
and Internet impact on society, the first place in terms of content
quality. It should be noted that the unilateral conclusions on
assessing the Internet role in social behavior are caused by a
simplified approach to some analysts, who view the Internet as a
kind of uniform structure .
While the researchers of social and humanitarian effects of
modern ICT mark the uneven development of various sectors
of Internet communications in different countries . While
Internet use has soared from around 45% to 78% in high-income
countries since 2005, in low-income countries it has remained
below 10% year after year. Internet penetration grew by only
one percentage point per year from 2011-2013 in low-income
countries . Taking into account the facts, it is doubtful that the
typology proposed by W. Dutton and G. Blank  can be applied
in countries with a low level of Internet development .
The group of World Wide Web Foundation  scientists
are conducting extensive cross-national social and political
researches. These researchers pay attention to measures of
the World Wide Web's contribution to social, economic and
political progress in countries across the world. However, the
typology of national Internet-behaviors comparison remains
outside the scope of their research interests. Meanwhile, the
behavioral aspect reveals the features of modern ICT effect on
social processes in various countries. This factor determines the
relevance of research, devoted to cross-national comparative
analysis of Internet-behavior types, its characteristics and
People on the internet typology
The methodological basis of our study is the integrated use of
systemic, structural functional and behaviourist approaches,
as well as quantitative and qualitative sociological methods
of typology (Internet-behavior clusters detection and their
characteristics) and comparative analysis (comparison of the
spread of identified clusters and Internet-behavior characteristics
features in different countries).
This study is based on the methodology of World Internet Project
, which examines trends in Internet communication and
global network social effects in terms of a single instrumentarium
. 13 countries are conducted as an empirical objects of
cross-national studies - main members of the World Internet
Project. We got sociological data under mass pool in Chile (741
respondents, sample is representative for the type area of
residence, district, gender and age), in China (1500 respondents,
sample is representative for the type area of residence, district,
gender and age), in the Republic of Cyprus (996 respondents,
sample is representative for the type area of residence, district,
gender and age), in Mexico (2000 respondents, sample is
representative for the type area of residence, district, gender and
age), in Poland (2007 respondents,, sample is representative for
the type area of residence, district, gender and age), in Russia
citizens (1600 respondents, sample is representative for the type
area of residence, district, gender and age), in the Republic of
South Africa (1589 respondents, sample is representative for
the type area of residence, district, gender and age), in Sweden
citizens (2700 respondents, sample is representative for the
type area of residence, district, gender and age), in Switzerland
(1114 respondents, sample is representative for the type area
of residence, district, gender and age), in the United Kingdom
citizens (2057 respondents, sample is representative for the
type area of residence, district, gender and age), in Uruguay
(2006 respondents, sample is representative for the type area of
residence, district, gender and age), in USA (1351 respondents,
sample is representative for the type area of residence, district,
gender and age), in Taiwan (1115 respondents, sample is
representative for the type area of residence, district, gender and
age). Maximum sampling error for all the selected countries - no
more than 3%.
Clustering variables for the survey were selected in accordance
with behavioral aspect revelation of the network use and behavior
types’ differentiation depending on the intensity of Internet use:
- at the place (at home, at work, in educational institutions or
- by types of gadgets (stationary and mobile);
- Internet space sectors (the use of email, chatting, calls making
over the Internet, filling the blog content, photos or pictures
posting, update of social network status, commenting activity);
- by online searching content (new job, education, health, travel,
specific facts, term/concept definition, jokes and humorous
- by Internet activity types (gaming, shopping, booking services,
paying bills, banking, committed investment in shares/bonds/
funds, distance learning).
We also included a mass pool set of questions that allow identifying
the characteristic features of perception by respondents of the
Internet effect on social and political communication processes.
Quantitative and qualitative indicators of Internet
communications, which were presented under the results of polls,
inure as an indicator for determining the appropriate behavioral
clusters. The combination of these indicators was structured
in three components. The first component - characteristics
of the phenomenon, which is subjected to the typology, the
second -characteristics of social background, in which this
phenomenon occurs, the third - factors that explain the existence
of manifestation types of the studied phenomenon.
We used statistical data processing package SPSS Base 17.0 for
the analysis of empirical data collected in the course of a mass
survey. An array of 13 countries was considered as a whole,
relevant types of the people on the Internet were identified in
this "whole" array. A certain group contains people that do not
use the Internet.
Survey results structure includes:
- Internet-behavior typology based on the quantitative analysis of
variables obtained through surveys;
- Qualitative characteristics of Internet-behavior identified
- Internet-behavior dominant clusters comparison in the countries
participating in the study.
Quantitative analysis obtained during the survey of variables
blocks characterizing intensity and meaningful direction of
respondents’ Internet communications identified the following
clusters of various types of Internet-behavior:
- "Innovators", who are characterized by intense consumption
(12-16 hours per day) of all major types of Internet content;
- "traditionalists", characterized by low-intensity consumption of
Internet content (1-2 hours per week);
- "Entertained", who are quite intensively (8-12 hours per day)
consuming predominantly recreational Internet content;
- "Pragmatists" (2-4 hours per day) are consuming predominantly
educational and vocational-oriented Internet content;
- ”Disconnected” - social actors, who are not involved to Internet
communication for a variety of reasons.
The study of socio-demographic characteristics of highlighted
clusters’ representatives allows to present typological
characteristics of each of them.
"Innovators" is a type of users, for whom the Internet is the
habitat and living space, this cluster is the so-called Internefanatics
or Internet-obsessed. Such people on the Internet can
use all the resources and opportunities of global network are
much more intense than other clusters of Internet-behavior.
Socio-demographic profile of this cluster is clearly defined: young
men and women age of 18-25, who receive higher education and
Representatives of this type carry out social activities virtually,
in cyberspace. Communication, online searching, making
money, buying goods and services, the implementation of social
subjectivity and other "innovators’" actions are carried out on-line.
Such a distinctive feature of people on the Internet as orientation
to create their own Internet content is the most revealing.
"Innovators" are the network content creators. Moreover, these
people do not limit the Internet content with Photo and Video (as
is the case with "entertain’s" behavior), their work on the network
content creation can include the development of websites, blogs,
other Internet resources. "Innovators" recognize the relatively
high value of World Wide Web as a means of realization of social
subjectivity. Representatives of this type of Internet-behaviour
demonstrate its social subjectivity by placing their own online
comments, as well as authoring forums and other venues
to discuss community problems. The political component of
"innovators" Internet-behaviour is characterized by optimistic
assessment of global network as a tool for political and electronic
participation. The representatives of this cluster believe that the
Internet expands human opportunities to exercise their rights and
freedoms, increases the level of awareness of political decisions
and gives the opportunity to express their views on the country's
The specific number of representatives of this type of Internetbehaviour
in selected countries is distributed in term of
decreasing value: United States - 23.9%, China - 18.1%, the World
Bank - 14.6%, Sweden - 12.8%, Cyprus - 12, 3%, Uruguay - 10.7%,
Chile - 9.6%, Poland - 8.2%, Switzerland - 6.6%, South Africa -
6.3%, Russia - 5.9%, Taiwan - 3.6%, Mexico - 3.4%.
"Traditionalists" type is the opposite to considered "innovators"
type. This type of Internet-behavior is characteristic mainly for
the part of the older age group of people on the Internet, who
depend quite a bit on the wide area network, use it as a secondary
and additional communication channel, situational information
source. Internet-behaviour of these people is characterized by
irregular and sporadic use of global network. People belonging
to analyzed cluster, use the Internet mostly at home due to two
factors: preference for a home computer to access the Internet
and the ability to get an advice from younger family members in
the use of global network.
"Traditionalists" do not have any sustained interest in the Internet.
On average, the representatives of this type use e-mail, social
networks, online searching once a month. "Traditionalists" is a
cluster of people belonging to "TV Party" and prefer direct contact.
Global network for them is rather poorly mastered space, social
opportunities of which are not fully understood. In particular,
representatives of the analyzed type are not prepared to agree
with the fact that the Internet allows a better understanding of
politicians’ actions or the fact the global network is aimed to force
politicians to pay attention to what people think about them.
The specific number of respondents of this type of Internetbehavior:
Taiwan - 32.3%, Switzerland - 29.6%, Chile - 27.8%,
Russia - 23.9%, Poland - 22.5%, Uruguay - 22.3%, Great Britain
- 21.7% Mexico - 17.7%, Sweden - 16.4%, South Africa - 14.9%,
USA - 14.6%, Cyprus - 13.0%, China - 5.3%.
We have highlighted the "entertained" cluster under results of
the survey. People on the Internet that implement this type of
Internet-behavior are orientsd primarily on leisure activities on
the Internet. They use a global network as rapidly away from
home, as well as at home on average more often than others
do. These people tend to use mobile phone or tablet to access
the Internet, so they are online almost all the time. A significant
factor of "entertain" cluster spread is aborted and the instability
of the social nature of its representatives. These features are
inherent in the so-called "young Internet audience" , which is
characterized by the use of entertainment content.
Fun and informal on-line chatting are dominant motives of the
use of World Wide Web by representatives of this type. This
determines their substantial characteristics of Internet-behavior.
In particular, representatives of the "entertained" cluster
regularly (from several times a week to daily practice) produce
the following actions on the Internet: checking/sending email
and instant messages, placing content (photos, videos), reading
blogs, are searching for humorous content, playing online games,
downloading music, videos, movies. These people use social
networking sites much more often than other respondents do
(several times a day). Information behavior of such people on the
Internet is entirely closed to the use of global network, which is
reflected in the consideration of the Internet as a primary source
of information, entertainment and communication tools.
At the same time, the representatives of this type are quite
positive about the Internet as a means of realization of political
subjectivity. The results of the poll showed that respondents from
this behavioral cluster believe that the use of global network
allows having more options for the implementation of political
rights and freedoms, discussing the actions of the government,
as well as better understanding of politicians’ actions. In addition,
they suggest that government officials have to pay more
attention to the fact that they are thinking about people on the
Internet. However, realizing the great potential of the Internet for
implementation of political subjectivity, "entertained" are rather
apolitical, completely loyal to the possibility of strengthening the
control of authorities over the network content.
The number of representatives of the cluster in those hina -
17.3%, Taiwan - 15.0%, Great Britain - 13.5%, Chile - 12.8%, Poland - 10.5%, Swcountries that were covered by the study:
Mexico - 41.8%, Russia - 33.8%, Uruguay - 23.0%, Cyprus - 18.2%,
Citzerland - 9.1%, Sweden - 8.8%, South Africa - 8.0%, USA - 7.0%.
Survey results have allowed isolating and characterizing one type of
Internet-behavior, which is called "pragmatists". Representatives
of the cluster "pragmatists" behave in the virtual space quite
different from "entertained". This type of Internet-behavior is
characterized by a utilitarian use of global network as a means of
raising the educational level, making money or implementation
of professional interests. Most often, the representatives of
this cluster use the Internet at home or at work to connect to
a global network via a computer, sometimes - phone or tablet.
These people are rarely interested in entertainment content and
social networks; they are oriented on finding information they
need for work, professional communication. Internet-behavior
type "pragmatics" is characterized by consideration of a global
network and TV as equally important sources of information and
means of entertainment. However, the average rate of use of
these media outlets is not more than 4 hours per day. Therefore,
representatives of the analyzed cluster should be called people on
the Internet, a moderate audience of the Internet and television.
"Pragmatists" assess the political function of the Internet quite
restrained. The representatives of this cluster do not focus on the
active use of global network as a means of political participation.
The share of "pragmatists" among the number of respondents in
our survey: Sweden - 49.5%, USA -f 40.2%, Switzerland - 39.8%,
Great Britain - 27.3%, Uruguay - 24.0%, Poland - 23.3%, Cyprus -
18.1%, Chile - 12.4% Taiwan - 12.0%, South Africa - 4.9%, Russia
- 4.4%, China - 3.5%, Mexico - 1.9%.
In an effort to characterize the features of the modern social
actors’ behavior the attention should be paid to the fact that there
are the 4.4 billion disconnected people in the whole world who
are not able to use the Web at all, and another 1.8 billion people
who are connected . The Web and Rising Global Inequality.
http://thewebindex.org/report/). Thus, «disconnected» people
constitute about 70% of the population of our planet, and the
«connected» - almost 30%. Surveys conducted in selected
countries demonstrated that the specific number of disconnected
people in them is less than in the whole world: South Africa -
65.9%, China - 55.7%, Cyprus - 38.4%, Chile - 37.4%, Taiwan
- 37.0%, Poland - 35.5%, Mexico - 35.4%, Russia - 32.4%, Great
Britain - 22.8%, Uruguay - 20.0%, Switzerland - 14.8%, USA -
14.3%, Sweden - 12.5%.
Comparative analysis of Internet-behavior types, conducted
under the survey in these 13 countries, allows showing the
relation of the clusters in the overall social structure of the nation
Table 1: Distribution of Internet-behavior types in selected member countries of the World Internet Project (%).
Representation on Internet-behavior typology in
The results allow giving the comparative characteristic of Internetbehavior
features of studied population.
In Chile, the "traditionalists" is the dominant Internet-behavior
type among the people on the Internet - 27.8%. Chileans are
more active in the use of online social networks than others are: several times a day - 27.1%, on a daily basis - 30.8% (only
in Mexico - 53.0%), on a weekly basis - 18.2% (only in Uruguay
- 18.7%), do not use only 14.3% (the lowest rate). At the same
time, men dominate among the people on the Internet with a
small margin - 52.2%, but the youth age group of people on the
Internet in Chile (up to 25 years old) takes the smallest portion
among the surveyed countries - 5.4%.
Our study shows that the Internet has not become the main
source of information for the Chileans. 72.2% of Chileans
respondents said about the importance of TV information
priority, and 50.3% - Internet information. «Disconnected» type
in Chile is distinguished by the fact that it includes the largest
number of those, who do not have a computer or access to the
Internet - 54.5%.
According to the World Wide Web Foundation (2015) Chile
occupies the highest place in the ranking among the countries
participating in this study in term of the criterion of "freedom
and openness" with the index 87.73. This is calculated based
on assessments of the civil liberties level, including the right
to information, expression of views, privacy and security on
the Internet. However, research shows that Chile has a high
percentage of those, who do not agree with the assertion that
Internet makes it easier to understand the politicians’ actions -
21.7% (only in Switzerland - 22.8%) do not agree with that 27.5%
of Chileans, and agree - 23.5%. Such skepticism, the causes of
which will be discussed below, is typical even for European
"Innovators" cluster is a dominant type of Internet-behavior in
China - 18.1%, while the share of "entertained" type of people
on the Internet is also significant - 17.3%. In our view, China's
high representation of "innovators" in the structure of people
on the Internet is associated with the perception of Internet
communication as a social attribute of mobility and success in life,
which determines the desire of Chinese people on the Internet to
intensively use innovative possibilities of the World Wide Web. At
the same time, attention is drawn to the fact that there is a large
number of «disconnected» people in China - 55.0% (the first is
South Africa). At the same time, 42.5% of respondents suggested
inability as a reason for not using the Internet, 43.1% - lack of
time and interest.
The largest gender disproportion between people on the Internet
among the studied countries is also a characteristic feature of
Chinese Internet audience, in which 64.1% are men. In China,
the largest proportion of mature people on the Internet (25-60
years) - 73.8%, and the smallest proportion of older people (over
60 years) - 4.5%.
There are very few of those, who use online social networks in
China: several times a day - 6.2% (only in Switzerland - 5.0%) on
a daily basis - 9.0% (the lowest rate), never used online social
networks - 52.3% (the highest rate). It is ironic that, in spite of
this, Chinese respondents are more positively evaluating the
role of the Internet in communicating with people with similar
interests than others do. 53.8% of respondents believe that the
global network extends the possibility of such communication.
Obviously, these facts reflect the contrast of socio-cultural
characteristics of the population, the smaller of which living in
large cities is socializing in the information network community,
while most of the population living in rural areas remains in preindustrialized
The survey results show that among of Chinese respondents,
who completely or mostly agree that the Internet extends the
possibilities for the realization of citizens’’ rights and freedoms
- 51.8%, the lowest percentage of respondents, who completely
disagree or disagree largely with this statement - 19.8%. Among
the respondents, 61.7% of Chinese completely or mostly agree
that the Internet extends the possibilities to influence the actions
of the government (only in Uruguay - 82%). In China, we point
the largest share of respondents, who completely or mostly agree
that the Internet extends the possibilities for understanding the
politicians’ actions - 60.9%. At first glance, it seems that such
data undermine the stereotypes in the public opinion of Western
countries. However, the behaviorist approach allows to explain it
with subjective aspiration of advanced part of Chinese Internet
audience for freedom, since according to the World Wide Web
Foundation , China has the last line in the ranking among
the member countries of our study in term of the criterion of
"freedom and openness" with index 10.94.
"Entertained" and "pragmatists" clusters are dominant types
of Internet-behaviors in the Republic of Cyprus. Shares of
their clusters are approximately equal - 18.2% and 18.1%, respectively. Shares of "traditionalists" and "innovators" clusters
are also approximately equal - 13.0% and 12.3%, respectively.
87.0% of Cypriots respondents said that the priority of Internet
information is meaningful to them (the highest rate), while 55.2%
trust it fifty-fifty. At the same time, there is a significant portion
of «disconnected» respondents in Cyprus - 38.4% (the third
after South Africa and China). Among them, there is the largest
proportion of those, who do not know how to use the Internet -
The female part of the Cyprus Internet audience is slightly higher
than the number of male part - 51.8%. Shares of people on the
Internet age groups are roughly correspond to the average for
studied countries. The number of young people is 20.7%, mature
people - 64.4%, older - 14.9%.
The Cypriots are the most active online network members. 34.5%
of respondents are using Social Media several times a day (the
highest rate), and another 26.3% do so every day. However,
the Cypriot respondents are very skeptical about the impact
of a global network on interpersonal communication. 61.7% of
respondents said that the Internet has no effect on the expansion
communication of people with similar interests, 71.8% - on
enhance communication of people with similar political interests,
80.9% - on enhance communication of people with similar
religious interests (the highest rate), 59.7% - on the expansion of
communication with the family, 40.5% - with friends, 44.7% - with
colleagues. Cypriots’ Internet-behavior relatively distribution
is reflected in a moderate attitude towards the possibilities of
the Internet in political sphere. Proportion of respondents, who
mostly agree or disagree, or are neutral to allegations that the
Internet extends the possibilities for the realization of citizens’
rights and freedoms, for a better understanding of politicians,
is fluctuating between 20% and 30%. However, the Cypriots’
attitude to the fact that the Internet extends the possibilities
to influence the government or may force officials to pay more
attention to public opinion is extremely negative. Accordingly,
45.4% and 60.9% of respondents completely or mostly disagree
with this statement (the highest values). This negativity is caused
by a reaction to the Greek government's inability to find a way
out of the current economic crisis and to resolve the chronic
problem of the political division of the island.
In Mexico, "entertained" cluster is dominant type of Internetbehavior
- 41.8% (the highest rate among the studied countries),
"traditionalists" occupy the second position with a twofold
backlog - 17.3%. Perhaps this is due to a dramatic imbalance in
the age structure of Internet audience. In Mexico, the largest
proportion of young users - 37.8% and the lowest proportion of
older - 4.4%. There are slightly more men among the Mexican
people - 53.0%. «Disconnected» cluster amounts to 35.4% of
the respondents, 28.1% of them do not know how to use the
Internet, and 33.2% do not have the time or interest to do so.
80.5% of Mexican respondents suggest Internet information is
significant (the second highest after Cyprus). 53.0% of Mexican
people on the Internet have a daily visit on social networking
sites (the highest rate). At the same time, 27.2% of Mexican
respondents believe that the Internet really extends the
capabilities of communicating of people with similar interests (the highest rate), and another 23.6% believe that the network
extends such opportunities. 49.6% indicated that the Internet
very or somewhat expands the communication possibilities
with the family (second highest after the UK), 58.8% - ability to
communicate with colleagues (the highest rate) and 68.0% - the
possibility of communicating with friends (the second highest after
the UK). Thus, despite the dominance of "entertained" cluster
(obviously recreational content component is implemented
primarily in communicating with friends) traditional family values
and a pragmatic dialogue with colleagues largely determine the
nature of Mexicans Internet-behavior. We also note that Mexico
has a relatively high fifth place in the number of respondents,
who stated that they completely or mostly agree that the Internet
extends the possibilities for the realization of citizens’ rights and
freedoms - 38.5%.
In Poland, the "pragmatists" and "traditionalists" types are
predominant types of Internet-behavior. These clusters occupied
23.3% and 22.5% respectively. "Entertained" and "innovators"
have a twofold backlog, their share is 10.5% and 8.2% respectively.
It is very likely that the explanation for this should be the fact that
the majority of Poles are devout Catholics. Internet distribution
of behavior clusters are correlated with the age composition of
the Polish Internet audience, in which the lion's share belongs to
the middle-aged users, because the parts of the youth and the
elderly do not differ significantly and constitute 15.8% and 13.6%,
respectively. The female part of the audience is slightly higher
than the male - 52.6%.
Polish «disconnected» people are distinguished by the fact that
there is a large (greater only in UK) percentage of those, who do
not use the Internet because they do not have time or interest
for this activity - 66.7%. Among Poles, the largest proportion of
those, for whom the priority of TV information is significant -
90.9%. These data reflect the conservatism of Polish society.
Poles inherent skepticism in assessing the social and political
role of global network. Roughly, half of Polish respondents
believe that the Internet has no effect on the empowerment of
communication between different social groups. About a third
of respondents are neutral to the capabilities of the Internet to
influence political processes.
"Entertained" cluster is a dominant type of Internet-behavior in
Russia - 33.4% (second after Mexico). "Pragmatics" cluster is 4.4%
(second after China), "innovators" cluster - 5.9% (third after Mexico
and Taiwan). The share of "traditionalists" occupies a middle
position among the surveyed countries - 23.9%. Obviously, the
priority features of the Russian mentality are neither pragmatism
nor innovation. Russian Internet audience is different from the
other by means of significant (9%) predominance of women
- 54%. These data to a certain extent reflect gender specific of
social activity in Russia. The relatively low percentage of people
on the Internet over 63 years - 8.8% (the fourth after South Africa,
China, and Mexico) is a characteristic feature of Russian audience.
«Disconnected» cluster holds a stake of 32.4%. At the same time,
28.1% of Russian respondents said that their exclusion is due to
the Internet ignorance, 39.5% - lack of time or interest, 24.6% -
lack of computer access (second after the USA and Chile).
Internet has not become the determining factor of social
communication in Russia. Internet information is a priority only
for 57.8% of Russian respondents (second after Chile), and TV
data priority was confirmed by 75.3% (second after Poland).
The Russians are showing a relatively moderate activity on
social networks. About two-thirds of Russian respondents
believe that the Internet has no effect on the expansion of
social communication opportunities with likeminded persons,
family, friends and colleagues. 41.5% completely or mostly
disagree with the fact that the Internet extends the impact on
the government's actions (second after Cyprus), while 47.8%
of respondents completely or mostly agree that the Internet
extends the possibilities for the realization of citizens’ rights and
freedoms (second after China). In our view, these data reflect
the subjective aspirations of Russian respondents as it was in the
case of China; as the World Wide Web Foundation appreciated
the option of freedom and openness of the Internet in Russia
only in 39.6 points (second from the bottom position among the
surveyed countries). According to The Economist Intelligence
Unit (2015), Russia and China complete the list of countries that
we have studied in the ranking of 2015 Democracy Index 2015
Democracy in an age of anxiety (Russia - authoritarian rank 132
overall score 3.31 and China - authoritarian rank 132 overall score
The absolute dominance of "pragmatists" cluster is a characteristic
feature of typological portrait of the Swedish Internet audience.
This type of behavior is inherent in 49.5% of the respondents (the
highest rate). "Traditionalists" occupy the second position with
the index 16.4%. In Sweden, we have registered the lowest share
of «disconnected» cluster - 12.5%. At the same time, 61.4% of
them indicated the lack of time or interest as the cause of the
networking absence (the highest rate). Sweden has uniform
distribution of the audience in terms of gender (male - 50.6%,
women - 49.4%). This reflects the principle of gender equality,
which is firmly rooted in Swedish society. The age structure of
people on the Internet in Sweden is most proportionate as well
(17.4% - young people, 57.4% - people of ripe years, 25.0% -
the elderly). Two-thirds of Swedes suggest the authenticity of
Internet information to be fifty-fifty authentic.
Swedes have mostly skeptical attitude to the Internet
opportunities as a means that allows expanding social contacts.
62.7% of respondents said that the Internet has no effect on
communication of people, who share similar interests, 77.9%
- people with similar political interests, 79.5% - with similar
religious interests, 62.1% - with family, 47.8% - with friends,
31.5% - with colleagues. Overall, only the British people were
seen more skeptical in this regard.
We see the same Swedes skepticism against the Internet political
functions. 46.2% of respondents completely or mostly disagree
with the fact that the Internet extends the possibilities for the
realization of citizens’ rights and freedoms (only in Uruguay -
49.6% and Switzerland - 57.9%). 37.0% - completely or mostly
disagree with the fact that the Internet extends the impact on
the government (only in Switzerland - 61.0%).
Swiss type of Internet-behavior is largely similar to the Swedish.
"Pragmatists" cluster dominates in Switzerland as well, although with a lower index - 39.8%, "traditionalists" occupy the second
position, but with a higher rate - 29.6% (second after Taiwan). We
note the same uniform distribution of people on the Internet in
terms of gender, but with the overbalance of women - 50.2%, and
hardly less uniform - in terms of age (13.4% - young people, 65.3% -
people of ripe years, 21.3% - the elderly). Share of «disconnected»
cluster is low and amounts to 14.8%, most of them do not have
time and interest on the Internet - 46.0%. It is characteristic that
in Switzerland the greatest number of respondents, who said
they had never used online social networks, is 47.3%.
We have already illustrated the extremely negative attitude of
Swiss to the allegations that the Internet extends the possibilities
for the realization of citizens’ rights and freedoms, as well as to
government influence. At the same time, we have paid attention
to the facts that Swedenanks second after Chile's position in
the ranking of World Wide Web Foundation  in terms of
the parameter of freedom and openness among the countries,
in which we conducted interviews, with the index 85.10,
Switzerland with the index 81.27 - the third place. According to
The Economist Intelligence Unit , Sweden is ahead of all of
the studied countries in the ranking of Democracy Index 2015
Democracy in an age of anxiety (full democracy, rank 3 overall
score 9.45), Switzerland follows it (full democracy, rank 6 overall
score 9.09). Using the comparative and behaviorist approaches,
we can conclude that the attitude toward the Internet as a means
to expand democracy increases in countries with a high level of
freedom and openness, that is a consequence of respondents’
critical thinking development.
"Traditionalists" cluster is a dominant type of Internet-behavior
in Taiwan. Share of this cluster amounts to 32.3% (the highest
rate among the studied countries). However, the proportion of
"innovators" is one of the lowest - 3.6% (second after Mexico).
Proportion of young people among Taiwanese people on the
Internet is also the lowest - 3.6%, but there is a large proportion
of elderly people - 37.0%. In this regard, we note the highlight
the contrast of all parameters, which are specified above, with
those that we have registered in China. Ratio of the "innovators"
and "traditionalists", youth and the elderly in the states with the
same ethnic group of the population is almost opposite, but the
socio-economic and political systems are radically different. That
pushes us to think about the decisive impact of these factors on
Share of «disconnected» cluster in Taiwan is big enough -
37.0%, but there are the smallest part of respondents, who
do not have a computer or access to the Internet - only 2.6%.
Strong traditionalist foundations of Taiwan respondents are also
reflected in the fact that 76.9% of them believe that the Internet
has no effect on the expansion of opportunities to communicate
with friends, and 89.2% - to communicate with the family (the
«Disconnected» people make up the largest proportion of
respondents in South Africa - 65.9%. South Africa is on the last
place of the list of Web Index World Wide Web Foundation (2015)
in terms of Internet development level among the surveyed
countries. It falls behind in terms of the parameters of rights and
opportunities that include an assessment of social, economic and political indicators of state development in the context of Internet
effects on them - only 31.89 points. "Traditionalists" cluster is the
highest among the people on the Internet in this country, but
with a relatively low rate - 14.9%. The largest proportion of young
people (26.5%) is the hallmark of South Africa's Internet audience.
Herein, the majority of people on the Internet have daily visits
on online social networks - 51.7% (second after Mexico). A
significant proportion of South African respondents believe that
the Internet extends the possibilities of social communication of
people with similar interests - 45.7%, 65% of surveyed residents
said that the Web is expanding communication possibilities with
family, friends and colleagues.
In the UK, "pragmatists" and "traditionalists" are the leading
types of Internet-behavior. The share of these clusters is 27.3%
and 21.7%, respectively. We note that the distribution of
dominant types is characteristic of all studied European countries.
Although, the UK gap between them is less than in Sweden and
Switzerland, but it is higher than in Poland. A small gap between
the "innovators" and "traditionalists" is a characteristic European
feature as well, but the lowest gap is in the UK - 14.6% and 13.5%,
respectively. Approximately uniform distribution of UK people on
the Internet is in terms of gender (women - 52.0% male - 48.0%),
relatively proportional distribution is in terms of age (14.7% - young
people, 64.6% - people of ripe years, 20.7% - older) are similar
to the typical features of other European Internet audiences.
«Disconnected» cluster amounts to 22.8% of the respondents.
Moreover, «disconnected» cluster has the highest proportion
among the British of those, who have no time or interest on the
Internet - 76.5%. We note that this factor is the main reason for
the Internet exclusion for all studied European countries, except
Cyprus. Interestingly, Internet information and TV information are
equally important for the British. The percentage of respondent,
for whom the priority of these information sources is significant,
was 72.4% in both cases.
The skeptical attitude towards the Internet to expand the
capabilities of social communication is typical for the British,
as well as for other Europeans. However, the British skepticism
is expressed most clearly in the area that Hogan  called "an
area of important links". In the UK, 68.1% of respondents
consider that the Internet has no effect on the empowerment
of communication between people with similar interests, 80.6%
- on the communication between people with similar political
views, 80.4% - with religious views, 69.1% - with colleagues.
However, 78.9% of those surveyed Britons said that the Internet
has a big effect on the empowerment of communication with the
family, and 83.2% - with friends. Thus, we note that the Internet
assessment as an important means of communication, which
Hogan  outlined as a zone of communicational "core", is a
specific British feature.
Uruguay has the most uniform distribution of "pragmatists",
"entertained", "traditionalists" and «disconnected» clusters
- 24.0%, 23.0%, 22.3% and 20.0%, respectively. The share of
"innovators" cluster is less than a half. Women make up a slight
majority of people on the Internet - 52.9%. Shares of elderly and
young people are almost equal - 17.8% and 16.7%, respectively.
These indexes are close to the indexes of European countries and the United States. Half of Uruguay people on the Internet
visit an online network daily or several times a day. The belief
in the power of Internet to effect on the government action is
characteristic of Uruguayans. 82.0% of respondents completely
or mostly agree with this statement (the highest rate). 51.9%
completely or mostly agree that the Internet makes officials to
pay more attention to public opinion (second after China).
"Pragmatists" cluster is a dominant type of Internet-behavior
in the United States - 40.2% (second after Sweden), but the
"entertained" cluster is only 7.0% (the lowest rate). "Innovators"
cluster took the second place - 23.9%, this is the highest rate
among the studied countries. This Internet-behavior types ratio
is unique and clearly reflects the American mentality, which
combining utilitarianism and the pursuance of pioneering provide
dynamic development of the country. Male part of the Internet
audience predominance is a characteristic feature of the United
States. The proportion of men among the people on the Internet
is 54.1% (after South Africa and China). In the US, «disconnected»
people make up one of the smaller clusters - 14.3% (second after
Sweden). 41.2% of them noted the lack of a computer or Internet
access as a cause of Internet exclusion (second after Chile). It
is amazing for a country that occupies the sixth position in the
world in terms of Internet development index according to the
World Wide Web Foundation  research.
US respondents are close to Europeans in terms of the level
of skeptical attitude to the possibilities of a global network in
the field of social contacts expansion. More than two thirds of
respondents said that the Internet has no effect on the expansion
of opportunities to communicate with like-minded people,
and about a half - with family, friends and colleagues. About a
third of US respondents neutrally refer to the potential impact
of the Internet on political processes. However, about the same
number completely or largely agree that the Internet extends the
possibilities for the realization of citizens’ rights and freedoms,
as well as the effects on the government, but 38.1% completely
or largely do not agree that the Internet makes officials to pay
more attention to public opinion. The majority of Americans
completely or largely agree that the Internet makes it easier to
understand the politicians’ actions - 51.8% (second after Cyprus).
Therefore, we note that the Web perception primarily as a
means of political reflection is a characteristic feature of the US
respondents’ Internet-behavior. We also draw attention to the
fact that the survey data, which are shown above, reveal some
differences between the behaviorist and statistical approaches.
This is illustrated by the World Wide Web Foundation statistics
, which, in particular, shows that the UK and the USA are in
the lead in terms of social, political, and economic indicators of
the state under their impact on the Internet - 98.81 and 100.00
points respectively .
The scientific validity and reliability of research results are
provided by improved methods of comparative analysis of
statistical data, which were obtained in the course of large-scale
public opinion polls.
The results of our study insert a significant array of crossnational
empirical data into scientific circulation, which allowed
conducting a general Internet-behavior typology, showing its characteristics and dependence in different countries. This greatly
enhanced the scientists’ researches in Europe, Latin America, and
Asia (Godoy 2016) that carried out a factor analysis of Internet
communications formation in national systems of various types.
A comprehensive study has allowed presenting people on the
Internet of 13 countries in a structured fashion in terms of Internetbehavior
types: "innovators", "traditionalists", "entertained",
"pragmatics" and "disconnected", identifying the proportions of
these social clusters in the state population -f object of the study.
European countries are characterized by a distribution model of
Internet-behavior types, in which the "pragmatists" social cluster
is on the first position, "traditionalists" - the second, "innovators"
- the third (only Cyprus is slightly different). Distribution of the
audience in terms of gender is almost equal, in terms of is relatively
proportional - those are the features of Europe. These ratios
reflect the specifics of such a European mentality as a combination
of prudence, conservatism, initiative and democracy embodied
in the socio-economic and political system of the EU. Unlike in
Europe, Russia, and especially Mexico, "entertained" people
occupy the first position, while the share of "pragmatists" and
"innovators" is minimal. On the contrary, Americans are different
from Europeans in terms of predominance of "innovators" over
the "traditionalists". This feature is historically conditioned and is
the key to well-known American dynamism. It is significant that
"innovators’" dominance among the people on the Internet is
characteristic for China as the leader of world economic growth.
Innovation inherent for Chinese respondents is reflected in very
low shares of "traditionalists" and "pragmatists" clusters. That
radically distinguishes them from the ethnic Chinese in Taiwan including the record share of "traditionalists" - almost a third.
China and Taiwan have the opposite age imbalances of people
on the Internet. In addition, there is almost a double prevalence
of men and a very high proportion of «disconnected» people as
characteristic features of China. These examples show that the
impact of socio-economic and political systems on the Internetbehavior
specifics is crucial.
Respondents in the countries with high level of freedom and
openness are skeptical about the possibilities of the Internet to
effect on the social and political communication. At the same
time, respondents in the countries that lag behind in these
parameters were significantly more optimistic about the Internet
potential to enhance their social and political opportunities.
Following the behaviorist approach, this paradox is explained
by a high level of respondents’ critical thinking in democratic
countries and inflated level of expectations that respondents
from authoritarian countries confer on the Internet as a window
to the world of freedom.
Summarizing the results of the research, we note that the scale
and intensity of Internet communication is most associated
with institutional and technological factors that determine the
ICT development level, Internet content maintenance mainly
determined by socio-economic, socio-cultural and sociodemographic
factors. Conducted cross-national comparative
analysis shows that this effect is mutual.
Research was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science
of Russian Federation, the state task "Identification of regularities
of interrelation of political systems development and Internet
communication" (2014-2016, the state task № 2816).
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