Digital Social Problems

Application of sociological concepts and methods in the analysis of current social problems in the digital environment including: privacy and obscurity; hacking, danger, crime, and war; interpersonal conflicts and harassment; stress, information overload, and FOMO – among others.  “Your AI bot will eventually take over,” “It’s the end of iPhone encryption,” “Children are addicted to screens,” “The internet is full of hate.”  You may have heard statements like these before.  The question is, are they true?  Often, much of what we believe about the digital social world is incorrect.  In this course we are going to learn to separate fact from fiction.

Digital sociology has four main components: 

  • Professional digital practice: using digital tools as part of professional practice – build networks, construct e-portfolios, build online profiles, publicize and share research
  • Analysis of digital technology use: research the ways in which people’s use of digital technologies configures their sense of self and their embodiment of social relations, the role of digital media in the creation or reproduction of social institutions and structures
  • Digital Data Analysis: using naturally occurring digital data for social research
  • Critical Digital Sociology: reflexive analysis of digital technologies informed by social and cultural theory

In our knowledge economy there is a digital analysis divide. A lot of data collected but no one analyzing it and certainly not enough people analyzing it through the lens of social justice.  As sociologists we need to remain on the cutting edge of ‘doing sociology’.  I believe that we can develop new ways of doing sociology that are both public and critical.  

This course aims to introduce students to the theory and craft of digital sociology through the particular social problems confronted in the online environment.