SC224-5-FY-CO:
Digital Society

The details
2023/24
Sociology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Current
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
30
26 May 2023

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

BA LP33 Media and Digital Culture,
BA LP34 Media and Digital Culture (including Placement Year),
BA P300 Media and Digital Culture (Including Foundation Year),
BA PL33 Media and Digital Culture (including Year Abroad),
BA P550 Journalism and Criminology,
BA P551 Journalism and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA P552 Journalism and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA P540 Journalism and Sociology,
BA P541 Journalism and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA P542 Journalism and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP10 English Language with Media Communication,
BA QP11 English Language with Media Communication (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP12 English Language with Media Communication (Including Placement Year),
BA QP13 English Language with Media Communication (Including Foundation Year),
BA W350 Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies,
BA W351 Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies (including Year Abroad),
BA W352 Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies (including Placement Year),
BA W353 Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

The aim of this module is to situate digital media within the context of dynamic social interactions in a complex and rapidly changing world. Students will therefore be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of the role being played by human-machine relationships in processes of contemporary cultural change. In order to do so, we will undertake a sustained critical engagement with the era of personalised media consumption currently being shaped through the use of personal computers, social networking, digital telephony, electronic music and digital television.

Students will be encouraged to evaluate the most recent developments in media technologies and to interrogate the various uses and practices that surround them from a wide-ranging sociological perspective. As such, the module introduces students to a broad range of social phenomena arising across the globe through the application and conceptualisation of digital technologies – from the sociology of the virtual body to the rise of cybercrime and identity theft, from the utopian ideals of virtual democracy to the Orwellian nightmare of the surveillance society, from the free software movement to the pleasures of online shopping.

Module aims

Aims and Objectives
The course explores such questions as:

• What is the relationship between computer mediated communication and the social?
• How have radical tech cultures shaped contemporary society?
• What are the implications of ‘digital lifestyles’ for the worlds of work and leisure in the 21st century?
• What are the key disjunctures/continuities between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ media and wider social systems?
• What is at stake for all of us in the debates surrounding electronic media?
• What is the ‘information society’?

Students will also be introduced to a broad range of related theories and concepts:

• Convergence
• Interactivity
• Technological Determinism
• Virtual Reality
• Cybernetics
• The Network Society
• Big Data
• Internet of Things
• Digital Capitalism
• The Public Sphere
• Post-Truth
• Surveillance

Module learning outcomes

The course explores such questions as:

What is the relationship between computer mediated communication and the social world?

What are the implications of ‘digital lifestyles’ for the worlds of work and leisure in the 21st century?

What are the key disjunctures/continuities between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ media and wider social systems?

What is at stake for all of us in the debates surrounding electronic media?

What is the ‘information society’?

Students will also be introduced to a broad range of related theories and concepts:

Post-industrialism
Informatisation
Virtual reality
The network society

Module information

Syllabus:
Autumn Term
Topic 1 – week 2 Module introduction: Digital Society
Topic 2 - week 3 From Post-Industrialism to the Network Society
Topic 3 - week 4 Digital Capitalism and the Information Divide
Topic 4 - week 5 Data Surveillance and Governmentality
Topic 5 - week 6 From E-Democracy to Democracy Hacked
Topic 6 - week 7 Open Source Intelligence in A Post-truth World
Topic 7 - week 8 Alternative Politics and Digital Activism
Topic 8 -week 9 Cyberculture, Posthumanism and the Virtual Body
Topic 9 - week 10 Children, Online Risks and Digital Literacy
Topic 10 - week 11 Essay Surgeries

Spring Term
Topic 11 - week 16 Technology and Society: SCOT Meets ANT
Topic 12 - week 17 What’s New about New Media?
Topic 13 - week 18 Software Sorting of Everyday Life
Topic 14 - week 19 Abuse Online: Trolling, Bullying and Revenge Porn

Reading Week – week 20

Topic 15 – week 21 New Frontiers in Digital Policing
Topic 16 - week 22 Hacker Politics
Topic 17 - week 23 Cyberlibertarianism and the Radical Right
Topic 18 - week 24 Interactivity / Interfaces / Gaming
Topic 19 - week 25 Essay Surgeries


Summer Term
Presentation support sessions Weeks 31 and 32

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab. The lectures provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further.

The weekly lectures and classes will take place face-to-face. You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of classes is at the discretion of the teacher.

Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total for four 30-credit modules).

Bibliography

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay 1   15/12/2023  40% 
Coursework   Essay 2   22/04/2024  40% 
Coursework   Presentation   09/05/2024  20% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr James Allen-Robertson, email: jallenh@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Michael Bailey, email: mbailey@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Michael Bailey & Dr James Allen-Robertson
E-mail:socugrad@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
Yes

External examiner

Dr David Clampin
Liverpool John Moores University
Subject Leader - History
Dr Aneira Edmunds
School of Law, Politics & Sociology
Senior Lecturer
Dr Paul Gilbert
University of Sussex
Senior Lecturer in International Development
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 28 (93.3%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
2 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.

 

Further information
Sociology

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