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Unit information: Digital Society in 2020/21

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Unit name Digital Society
Unit code SOCI20077
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sveta Milyaeva
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The ever-accelerating development of the ubiquitous technologies is assumed to be a great enhancer of the human capacity to interact. While acknowledging the profound transformation of social interactions enabled by digital devices, the unit is set to challenge the unproblematic perception of digitalised social practices. The conventional assumptions about mundane use of digital devices will be challenged by the way the unit is designed. To develop our understanding of the digital society, each week we will look at various aspects of it (e.g. digital intimacies, digital economies, digital inequalities, digital politics and elections, digital death) by engaging with contemporary sociological accounts of the everyday digital. Students will be encouraged to unpack taken for granted digital interactions, think about the complexities of researching the digital, and apply their sociological thinking in preparing their own arguments linking personal experiences to public issues in a digital society.

This unit aims to encourage sociological reflection on what digital society is by:
• engaging with the range of contemporary sociological accounts of a digital society;
• outlining key theoretical and methodological debates around the digital;
• critically reflecting on taken for granted assumptions made with regards to mundane digital interactions;
• stimulating debates that encourage the development of a critical awareness of ubiquitously technologised social practices.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate understanding of the role of technology and how it shapes the social world;
2. identify a set of key analytic concerns with regards to the digital mode of society;
3. critically engage with different methodological approaches to studying ‘the digital’;
4. demonstrate the ability to critically discuss the ways in which the sociological study of digital society has developed;
5. make detailed and appropriate use of empirical cases to construct cogent arguments about the wider implications of the digitisation for social life.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Summative Assessment 1 (20%) - Verbal group presentation (Assesses ILO 5)

Summative assessment 2 - Essay (3,000 words) (80%). (Assesses ILOs 1-4)

Reading and References

Daniels, J. et al. (2017) Digital Sociologies. Bristol: Policy Press.
Lupton, D. 2015. Digital Sociology. London: Routledge.
Marres, N. 2017. Digital Sociology. London: Polity Press.
Ruppert E. et al. (2013) ‘Reassembling Social Science Methods: The Challenge of Digital Devices’, Theory, Culture & Society, 30(4): 22-46
boyd, d. 2014. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press.
von Cleaf, K. 2017. ‘Our Mothers Have Always Been Machines: The Conflation of Media and Motherhood’, pp. 449-463 in J. Daniels et al. (eds.) Digital Sociologies. Bristol: Policy Press.
Milyaeva, S. and D. Neyland. 2016. ‘Market Innovation as Framing, Productive Friction and Bricolage: An Exploration of the Personal Data Market’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 9(3): 229-244
Srnicek, N. 2017. Platform Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Zuboff, S. 2019. The Age of Surveillance capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future and at the New Frontier of Power. London: Profile Books.
Crossley, AD. 2017. Finding Feminism: Millennial Activists and the Unfinished Gender Revolution. New York: NY University Press.
Bauman, Z. et al. 2014. ‘After Snowden: Rethinking the Impact of Surveillance’, International Political Sociology, 8(2):121-144
Gibbs, M. et all. 2015. ‘#Funeral and Instagram: Death, Social Media, and Platform Vernacular’, Information, Communication & Society, 18(3): 255-268