The future of sociology of FLOSS

Yuwei Lin


The following commentary is part of First Monday's Special Issue #2: Open Source.
This paper briefly summarises the current research on the free/libre open source software (FLOSS) communities and discusses the deficiency of a body of FLOSS research done from the sociological perspective. Since Eric Raymond's famous 'Cathedral and Bazaar' that depicts a harmoniously cooperative community/bazaar that engages 'hackers' to develop and advocate FLOSS, many other successors have adopted a similar utopian-like perspective to understand the FLOSS development and organisation processes within and across communities. However, I argue that such a view, partially valid in explaining the FLOSS development, not only ignores the diversity of population and their different articulations, interpretation on and performances towards developing FLOSS, but also neglects the different environments and contexts where FLOSS is deployed, developed and implemented. A sociological point of view is vital in that it helps understand the dynamics emerging from the heterogeneity of the FLOSS social world and allows us to see different roles played by diverse actors and various environments and contexts where FLOSS evolves differently. This paper concludes with a list of suggested research topics for future studies.

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2017. ISSN 1396-0466.