When I tell people I’m studying digital sociology, people ask me what on earth it is. Without fail. I’ve started preempting the question and barrelling into an explanation.
Everyone I study digital sociology with has their own ’25-words-or-less’ definition but this is mine:
“We’re looking at how people interact with technology and how that impacts society. We also learn practical computing so we can devise and present digital social research.”
I know it’s not a perfectly formed academic definition, but it’s designed to convince non-academics that we do more than just study Facebook.
We look at ideas and issues such as:
- How to study people in online environments
- How algorithms shape our relationships online
- The impact of big data on everyday life
- Consuming, producing, playing and labouring online and how these actions blur into one another
- How people present themselves and their personal lives online
- How digital devices and the people who use them exert influence on one another.
Our studies are influenced by the work and philosophies of C. Wright Mills, Bruno Latour, Bordieu and Foucault.
At Goldsmiths, we’re privileged to be taught by those who are influencing the digital sociology field such as Noortje Marres, Roger Burrows, Les Back and Nina Wakeford.
If you’d like to find out more about the area of digital sociology, here are some good starting points:
- Roger Burrows – What are Sociologists for? TEDx York, July 2011
- Dhiraj Murthy – iSociology
- British Sociological Association – Digital Sociology study group
- Mark Carrigan – markcarrigan.net
You can also look at the work of fellow digital sociology students: