E-Mail and Ethics: Style and Ethical Relations in Computer-Mediated Communication

By Emma Rooksby | Go to book overview
Save to active project


This book is an investigation of ethical aspects of computer-mediated communication (or CMC). In it I sort through some important ethical issues that are raised by the prospect of a mediated, textual, social world. I do so by posing and answering a series of questions. How is personal identity manifested (or constructed) in text? Can we know what others are feeling if we communicate with them via CMC? Can we engage in dialogue with others in CMC? Can we act on or with others in CMC? How are computer-mediated (CM) friendships and political relations valuable, and what are their limitations? I explore the ethical possibilities and limitations imposed by the wide geographic reach and textuality of CMC, and consider how the medium sustains or alters social relations, particularly friendships and political relations.

CMC has been available as an institutional and personal communication technology for well over a decade, and has been becoming more widely available ever since its inception. It is particularly popular in the US, where computer networking was pioneered, and is increasingly popular elsewhere. The reasons for its adoption in public, academic and institutional contexts are frequently managerial decisions based on considerations of efficiency, productivity and profit, but the social advantages of CMC are also cited by many people. 1 CMC is claimed to bring many benefits, social and personal, in fields ranging from political action and formation of friendships, to therapeutic discussion and education access.

The value of being able to maintain contact with familiar distant others, and to establish new contact with unknown distant others are two of the major social benefits that people cite for CMC. Further, the organisation of social fora such as mailing lists and discussion groups allows groups of people to keep in touch with each other when they would otherwise be limited from so doing by the time required to engage with participants individually. The comparative novelty of CMC, and the cachet attached to that novelty, no doubt add to the use of CMC, for some people, a particular pleasure not associated with other forms of mediated communication such as telephone conversation.

While social interaction across the panoply of particular personal affiliations, impersonal crowd gatherings, role-based work relations, and political negotiations has been the traditional ground of ethics, the advent of CMC has prompted a renewed investigation into the nature and value of forms of human association. A


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
E-Mail and Ethics: Style and Ethical Relations in Computer-Mediated Communication


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 263

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?