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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Internet, Society and Economy (PGSP11116)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIs Internet changing sociology? How are core assumptions embedded in the received notions of interaction and situatedness challenged by electronically mediated encounters and fields such as social media sites and other upcoming Web 2.0 technologies?

Social scientists are after a general theory of all types of interaction and try to avoid what might be called "flip flop" social analysis: one form of sociology for studying the offline world and then "flip" to another for the online world. The tendency to conceive of the digital as simply and exclusively digital and the non-digital as simply and exclusively that, filters out alternative conceptualizations, thereby precluding a more complex reading of the impact of digitization on material and place-bound conditions.

The course will provide reasons why flip flop social analyses have to be avoided and an overview of the different scholarly attempts to avoid so. First, we will discuss perspectives by which when it comes to the online world no major shift of sociological framing is required. According to the proponents of this perspective, this is due either because the consequences of Internet for the social life, and for social theory, have been exaggerated or because offline interaction can be equally technologically mediated. In this case, familiar notions from the sociology of interaction such as "copresence", "increments", "reciprocation" "imitative behavior" "norms", "commitments", "obligations", "value" and "reputations" are conceived to be of use in studying online worlds.

In the second part of the course, we will review authors arguing that the assumptions that have characterized much microsociological thinking in the past are theoretically no longer adequate in a world in which interaction can also be disembedded from local spaces. In this latter case, notions that draw on microsociology have to be extended to capture global social forms. A distinction between embodied presence and response presence is introduced, together with the notion of face-to-screen situation.

Reflections will be also extended to another micro-empirical approach, known as ethnomethodology. Ethnomethodology is ża field of sociology that studies the resources, the practices and the procedures of common sense through which members of a culture produce and recognize objects, events and courses of action in a mutually intelligible wayż (Heritage 1992: 588). Drawing on analysis developed in our research group on industrial analysts and global IT vendors (Pollock et al., 2007; Pollock & Williams, 2010; Campagnolo et al., 2012), I will demonstrate the relevance of an ethnomethodological approach to study online interaction. However, while ethnomethodological studies tend to equate fundamental reality with what is highly focused in a small space, our reflection is addressed to reveal how particular actors theorize, through the resources they have at hand, about extended relationships between settings.
Course description - week 1: introduction to the course theme. Notions of sociology of Interaction
- week 2: The compulsion of proximity;
- week 3: Cases Internet and Cinema.
- week 4: Cases Internet and the experience of music;
- week 5: Cases Facebook and Google+ on privacy settings;
- week 6: Cases The microsociological approach to global social forms;
- week 7: Cases Internet & IT expertise;
- week 8: An ethnomethodological approach to global social forms?
- week 9: Cases Internet & Financial Markets;
- week 10: Conclusions on the course theme and discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be by one long essay.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the historical context and theoretical underpinnings of a wide range of social science research focused on digital technologies.
  2. Be able to critically engage with different theoretical and methodological approaches for studying digital technologies and their epistemological assumptions.
  3. Be able to apply complex concepts and critical thinking from different disciplinary perspectives in order to tackle contemporary social issues relating to digital technologies
  4. Be able to interpret, evaluate, and use a wide range of different types of data, empirical material and arguments relating to the social dynamics of digital technologies.
  5. Be able to communicate complex ideas pertaining to the social dimensions of digital technologies.
Reading List
Ayres, I. (2007) Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to be Smart. Bantam Dell Publishing Group.

Boden, D. and Molotch, H. (1994). 'The compulsion to proximity', in R. Friedland and D. Boden (eds) Nowhere. Space, time and modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Boden, D., Friedland, R. (1994) "Space, Time and Social Theory," Introductory chapter to Now/Here: Space, Time and Modernity, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 1-60.

Knorr Cetina, K.D. and Bruegger, U. (2002) 'Global Microstructures: The Virtual Societies of Financial Markets', American Journal of Sociology, 107, 4: 905-50.

Knorr Cetina, K. (2009) The Synthetic Situation: Interactionism for a Global World, Symbolic Interaction, vol. 32 (1) pp. 61-87

Goffman, E. (1952). On Cooling the Mark Out," Psychiatry, 15, 213-31.

Gofman E. (1961). Encounters; two studies in the sociology of interaction. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill.

Goffman, Erving. 1963. Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings, New York: Free Press.

Goffman, Erving. 1967. "On Face-Work," Interaction Ritual, New York: Pantheon Books, 5-45.

Goffman, E. (1972), "TheNeglected Situation." pp. 61-66 in Language and Social Context, edited by P. P. Giglioli. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Goffman, E. (1981) "Response Cries" pp. 78-123 in Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Goffman, E. (1983), "The Interaction Order", American Sociological Review, 48:1-17.

Lev Manovich. Software Takes Command.

Nicolini, D. (2007). Stretching out and expanding work practices in time and space: The case of telemedicine. Human Relations, vol. 60 (6) pp. 889-920

Pinch, T. (2007) "Where is the Goffman of the Internet?", Annual Meeting of 4S, Montreal, October 12, 2007.

Pollock, N., Williams, R., D'Adderio, L., Grimm, C. Post Local Forms of Repair: The (Extended) Situation of Virtualised Technical Support, Forthcoming in Information & Organization.

Sassen S. (2002). Towards a Sociology of Information Technology. Current Sociology. 50(3): 365-388.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywords- Internet - Society - Economy - Policy - Technology - Innovation Goverance
Course organiserDr James Stewart
Tel: (0131 6)50 6392
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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