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Digital Sociology: An
Introduction
S.Ghosh
Focal Issues : by
Deborah Lupton :
Department of
Sociology and
Social Policy,
University of
Sydney
• Research: to let others know about, to learn
about that of others and to gather material to
support research.
• Creativity: using social media can be a great
way to create items to share with others quickly
and easily and often in a pleasing visual form.
• Engagement: social media offer an accessible
way to engage with other academics and non-
academics.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 2
Social Change
and
Information
Technologies
• Optimistic interpretations: ignoring social relations
that influence the social distribution and impact of
the new ICTs.
• The new digital technologies function as
commodities, and their distribution – at least
initially – tends to follow existing divisions of class,
race and gender.
• Rather than assisting with equalization, the new
information and communication technologies tend
to reinforce social inequality, and lead to the
formation of socially and technologically
disadvantaged and excluded individuals (Golding,
1996; Zappala, 2000).
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 3
Terminological
Turmoil
• Sociologists have engaged in research related to the internet
since its inception. They have addressed many varied social
issues relating to online communities, cyberspace and
cyberidentities.
• 'cyber-sociology’,
• 'the sociology of the internet’,
• ‘the sociology of online communities’,
• 'the sociology of social media’,
• 'the sociology of cyberculture' or something else again.
• While the term 'cyber' was in vogue in the 1990s and early
2000s, reference to the ‘cyber’ seems to have been largely
replaced by the ‘digital’. ‘Digital sociology’ encapsulates the
concerns previously addressed by 'cybersociology' and extends
into this new era of mobile digital computer use. It is a neat
descriptive term that also references other disciplines and
their use of the term 'digital’.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 4
Digital
Humanities
• The definition of the digital humanities is being
continually formulated by scholars and practitioners.
Since the field is constantly growing and changing,
specific definitions can quickly become outdated or
unnecessarily limit future potential. The second volume
of Debates in the Digital Humanities (2016)
acknowledges the difficulty in defining the field: "Along
with the digital archives, quantitative analyses, and tool-
building projects that once characterized the field, DH
now encompasses a wide range of methods and
practices: visualizations of large image sets, 3D modeling
of historical artifacts, 'born digital' dissertations, hashtag
activism and the analysis thereof, alternate reality games,
mobile makerspaces, and more. In what has been called
'big tent' DH, it can at times be difficult to determine with
any specificity what, precisely, digital humanities work
entails."
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 5
Digital
Humanities
• Historically, the digital humanities developed out of
humanities computing and has become associated with
other fields, such as humanistic computing, social
computing, and media studies. In concrete terms, the digital
humanities embraces a variety of topics, from curating
online collections of primary sources (primarily textual) to
the data mining of large cultural data sets to topic modeling.
Digital humanities incorporates both digitized (remediated)
and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies
from traditional humanities disciplines (such as history,
philosophy, linguistics, literature, art, archaeology, music,
and cultural studies) and social sciences,[6] with tools
provided by computing (such as hypertext, hypermedia, data
visualisation, information retrieval, data mining, statistics,
text mining, digital mapping), and digital publishing. Related
subfields of digital humanities have emerged like software
studies, platform studies, and critical code studies. Fields
that parallel the digital humanities include new media
studies and information science as well as media theory of
composition, game studies, particularly in areas related to
digital humanities project design and production, and
cultural analytics.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 6
Components
of Digital
Sociology
• Impact, development and use of technologies
and their impact upon and incorporation into
social worlds
• Concepts of selfhood may be investigated,
analyzed and understood.
• The Ways digital technologies have infiltrated
everyday life and have become such an
important dimension of how people gather
information
• How to connect socially with others the digital
world should now be a central feature of
sociological study and research.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 7
Information
Diffusion:
Components
• The innovation
• Communication channels
• Time
• The social system (context)
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 8
Prime
activities of
digital
sociologists
• Professional digital practice : using digital media tools for
professional
purposes: to build networks, construct an e-profile, publicise
and share
research and instruct students.
• Sociological analyses of digital media use : researching the
ways in which
people's use of digital media configures their sense of selves,
their
embodiment and their social relations.
• Digital data analysis : using digital data for social research,
either
quantitative or qualitative.
• Critical digital sociology : undertaking reflexive and critical
analysis of
digital media informed by social and cultural theory
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 9
Professional
Digital Practice
• Building networks
• Facilitating public engagement
• Receiving feedback
• Establishing an e-profile
• Curation and sharing of content
• Teaching
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 10
Analysing
Digital Data
The terms 'webometrics' or 'cybermetrics' have
been used to describe quantitative social research
using digital data sets drawn from network
websites and social media sites. While these
approaches seem quite widely used in such fields
as information science and technology, thus far
they seem little used by sociologists.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 11
Critical digital
sociology
• Directs critical attention at the ways in which
sociologists and other academics themselves
use digital media. This is a reflexive approach
that draws on contemporary social and cultural
theory to analyze and interrogate the kinds of
subject positions or assemblages that are
configured via digital technology use as part of
professional practice. While such a critical
approach does not preclude professional digital
use, it opens up a space for reflection upon the
implications and unintended consequences of
such practices.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 12
Information
Propagation
• Human social relationships were bounded
according to time and space, but the evolution
of information and communication technologies
tools allowed people to inexpensively and
reliably share information anytime and
anywhere through social media.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 13
The
“managed”
information
society
• Information is a reference point for contemporary (post)-
modern societies.
• Among the most important characteristics of the 20th
century is the intensification of persuasion efforts, due to
the modernization of politics, (generalization of political
participation).
• Information management is part of perception
management. Perception management includes the -
aligned with specific interests- attempt to influence the
public opinion and the adoption of the influence tactics
to the rationale of media used to disseminate the pre-
managed information.
• Under this scope, information becomes a specific means
of (re)orientation of power structures, a means for
constructing reality.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 14
Describing
propaganda
• In an age of managed information, hence of propaganda,
our actions should aim to recognize propaganda for what
it actually is: a form of communication and part of our
everyday life.
• The interests implementing propagandistic strategies may
agree or disagree with ours.
• Therefore, propaganda has to do with “sides” as well. The
information we believe in is education; the information
we don’t believe in is propaganda”.
• Propaganda is based on four interacting characteristics:
• 1. the attempt to influence peoples’ minds and behavior,
• 2. the efficient use of mass media,
• 3. the understanding of the psychological condition of the
pursuees and
• 4. the exploitation of socially established behavioral patterns.
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 15
Propaganda, post-
truth (new
[media]
propaganda):
Similarities
and…similarities
(as
notion/approach)
• Just like propaganda, post-truth as a term
incorporates an inherent negativism, due to its
emergence in the public sphere after the
propagandistic campaigns of Trump and BREXIT
political representatives (persuasive definition).
• We should bear in mind that the term
propaganda and its contemporary equivalent,
post-truth, denote the fight of ideologically
different sides for the hearts and minds of the
people
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 16
Comparative presentation of key aspects
of propaganda and post-truth
Propaganda Post-truth
Definition
Deliberate, mainly political, communication
process, exercised through the dissemination
of managed information. Seeks to influence
views, opinions and behaviors
Objective facts are less influential in
shaping public opinion than appeals to
emotion and personal belief
Communication environment
Unilateral mass communication/ interactive
communication
Unilateral mass communication/ mainly
interactive communication
Main aim Public opinion influence Public opinion influence
Discursive Characteristics
Emotion
Personal opinions/beliefs
Lies and the deliberate construction and
dissemination of specific -unilateral-
information
Emotion,
Personal opinions/beliefs
fake news
Approaches to the notion (+/-/0) Predominantly negative Negative
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 17
Social Capital
A Conceptualization of Social
Capital
(see Castiglione 2008, chapter 7)
- The intellectual origins of the
concept of social capital
are wide-ranging:
- Human capital (Gary
Becker)
- Civicness (Alexis de
Tocqueville)
- Community (Tönnies)
- Social norms of cooperation
(Durkheim,
Weber, Simmel)
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 18
Social Capital
Coleman ‘Social capital is defined by
its function. It is not a single entity,
but a variety of different entities
having two characteristics in
common: They all consist of some
aspect of social structure, and they
facilitate certain actions of individuals
who are within the structure’
(Coleman 1990, p. 302)[25].
Fukuyama ‘the
ability of people to work together for
common purposes in groups and
organizations’ (Fukuyama 1995, p.
10)[26].’Social capital can be defined
simply as the existence of a certain
set of informal values or norms
shared among members of a group
that permit cooperation among them’
(Fukuyama 1997)[26].
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 19
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 20
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 21
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 22
• Thank YOU
22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 23

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sgdigitalsociology-200522044401.pdf

  • 2. Focal Issues : by Deborah Lupton : Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney • Research: to let others know about, to learn about that of others and to gather material to support research. • Creativity: using social media can be a great way to create items to share with others quickly and easily and often in a pleasing visual form. • Engagement: social media offer an accessible way to engage with other academics and non- academics. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 2
  • 3. Social Change and Information Technologies • Optimistic interpretations: ignoring social relations that influence the social distribution and impact of the new ICTs. • The new digital technologies function as commodities, and their distribution – at least initially – tends to follow existing divisions of class, race and gender. • Rather than assisting with equalization, the new information and communication technologies tend to reinforce social inequality, and lead to the formation of socially and technologically disadvantaged and excluded individuals (Golding, 1996; Zappala, 2000). 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 3
  • 4. Terminological Turmoil • Sociologists have engaged in research related to the internet since its inception. They have addressed many varied social issues relating to online communities, cyberspace and cyberidentities. • 'cyber-sociology’, • 'the sociology of the internet’, • ‘the sociology of online communities’, • 'the sociology of social media’, • 'the sociology of cyberculture' or something else again. • While the term 'cyber' was in vogue in the 1990s and early 2000s, reference to the ‘cyber’ seems to have been largely replaced by the ‘digital’. ‘Digital sociology’ encapsulates the concerns previously addressed by 'cybersociology' and extends into this new era of mobile digital computer use. It is a neat descriptive term that also references other disciplines and their use of the term 'digital’. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 4
  • 5. Digital Humanities • The definition of the digital humanities is being continually formulated by scholars and practitioners. Since the field is constantly growing and changing, specific definitions can quickly become outdated or unnecessarily limit future potential. The second volume of Debates in the Digital Humanities (2016) acknowledges the difficulty in defining the field: "Along with the digital archives, quantitative analyses, and tool- building projects that once characterized the field, DH now encompasses a wide range of methods and practices: visualizations of large image sets, 3D modeling of historical artifacts, 'born digital' dissertations, hashtag activism and the analysis thereof, alternate reality games, mobile makerspaces, and more. In what has been called 'big tent' DH, it can at times be difficult to determine with any specificity what, precisely, digital humanities work entails." 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 5
  • 6. Digital Humanities • Historically, the digital humanities developed out of humanities computing and has become associated with other fields, such as humanistic computing, social computing, and media studies. In concrete terms, the digital humanities embraces a variety of topics, from curating online collections of primary sources (primarily textual) to the data mining of large cultural data sets to topic modeling. Digital humanities incorporates both digitized (remediated) and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from traditional humanities disciplines (such as history, philosophy, linguistics, literature, art, archaeology, music, and cultural studies) and social sciences,[6] with tools provided by computing (such as hypertext, hypermedia, data visualisation, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, text mining, digital mapping), and digital publishing. Related subfields of digital humanities have emerged like software studies, platform studies, and critical code studies. Fields that parallel the digital humanities include new media studies and information science as well as media theory of composition, game studies, particularly in areas related to digital humanities project design and production, and cultural analytics. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 6
  • 7. Components of Digital Sociology • Impact, development and use of technologies and their impact upon and incorporation into social worlds • Concepts of selfhood may be investigated, analyzed and understood. • The Ways digital technologies have infiltrated everyday life and have become such an important dimension of how people gather information • How to connect socially with others the digital world should now be a central feature of sociological study and research. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 7
  • 8. Information Diffusion: Components • The innovation • Communication channels • Time • The social system (context) 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 8
  • 9. Prime activities of digital sociologists • Professional digital practice : using digital media tools for professional purposes: to build networks, construct an e-profile, publicise and share research and instruct students. • Sociological analyses of digital media use : researching the ways in which people's use of digital media configures their sense of selves, their embodiment and their social relations. • Digital data analysis : using digital data for social research, either quantitative or qualitative. • Critical digital sociology : undertaking reflexive and critical analysis of digital media informed by social and cultural theory 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 9
  • 10. Professional Digital Practice • Building networks • Facilitating public engagement • Receiving feedback • Establishing an e-profile • Curation and sharing of content • Teaching 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 10
  • 11. Analysing Digital Data The terms 'webometrics' or 'cybermetrics' have been used to describe quantitative social research using digital data sets drawn from network websites and social media sites. While these approaches seem quite widely used in such fields as information science and technology, thus far they seem little used by sociologists. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 11
  • 12. Critical digital sociology • Directs critical attention at the ways in which sociologists and other academics themselves use digital media. This is a reflexive approach that draws on contemporary social and cultural theory to analyze and interrogate the kinds of subject positions or assemblages that are configured via digital technology use as part of professional practice. While such a critical approach does not preclude professional digital use, it opens up a space for reflection upon the implications and unintended consequences of such practices. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 12
  • 13. Information Propagation • Human social relationships were bounded according to time and space, but the evolution of information and communication technologies tools allowed people to inexpensively and reliably share information anytime and anywhere through social media. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 13
  • 14. The “managed” information society • Information is a reference point for contemporary (post)- modern societies. • Among the most important characteristics of the 20th century is the intensification of persuasion efforts, due to the modernization of politics, (generalization of political participation). • Information management is part of perception management. Perception management includes the - aligned with specific interests- attempt to influence the public opinion and the adoption of the influence tactics to the rationale of media used to disseminate the pre- managed information. • Under this scope, information becomes a specific means of (re)orientation of power structures, a means for constructing reality. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 14
  • 15. Describing propaganda • In an age of managed information, hence of propaganda, our actions should aim to recognize propaganda for what it actually is: a form of communication and part of our everyday life. • The interests implementing propagandistic strategies may agree or disagree with ours. • Therefore, propaganda has to do with “sides” as well. The information we believe in is education; the information we don’t believe in is propaganda”. • Propaganda is based on four interacting characteristics: • 1. the attempt to influence peoples’ minds and behavior, • 2. the efficient use of mass media, • 3. the understanding of the psychological condition of the pursuees and • 4. the exploitation of socially established behavioral patterns. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 15
  • 16. Propaganda, post- truth (new [media] propaganda): Similarities and…similarities (as notion/approach) • Just like propaganda, post-truth as a term incorporates an inherent negativism, due to its emergence in the public sphere after the propagandistic campaigns of Trump and BREXIT political representatives (persuasive definition). • We should bear in mind that the term propaganda and its contemporary equivalent, post-truth, denote the fight of ideologically different sides for the hearts and minds of the people 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 16
  • 17. Comparative presentation of key aspects of propaganda and post-truth Propaganda Post-truth Definition Deliberate, mainly political, communication process, exercised through the dissemination of managed information. Seeks to influence views, opinions and behaviors Objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief Communication environment Unilateral mass communication/ interactive communication Unilateral mass communication/ mainly interactive communication Main aim Public opinion influence Public opinion influence Discursive Characteristics Emotion Personal opinions/beliefs Lies and the deliberate construction and dissemination of specific -unilateral- information Emotion, Personal opinions/beliefs fake news Approaches to the notion (+/-/0) Predominantly negative Negative 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 17
  • 18. Social Capital A Conceptualization of Social Capital (see Castiglione 2008, chapter 7) - The intellectual origins of the concept of social capital are wide-ranging: - Human capital (Gary Becker) - Civicness (Alexis de Tocqueville) - Community (Tönnies) - Social norms of cooperation (Durkheim, Weber, Simmel) 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 18
  • 19. Social Capital Coleman ‘Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity, but a variety of different entities having two characteristics in common: They all consist of some aspect of social structure, and they facilitate certain actions of individuals who are within the structure’ (Coleman 1990, p. 302)[25]. Fukuyama ‘the ability of people to work together for common purposes in groups and organizations’ (Fukuyama 1995, p. 10)[26].’Social capital can be defined simply as the existence of a certain set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permit cooperation among them’ (Fukuyama 1997)[26]. 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 19
  • 23. • Thank YOU 22/05/2020 sghoshnbu@gmail.com 23