Skip to main content

Digital Society

This course is currently unavailable for booking

There are currently no upcoming dates available for this course. Be the first to know when new dates are announced by joining the mailing list.

Digital Society provides a critical examination of how digital technologies are transforming social life, culture, politics, and the economy.

The emergence of new technologies like social media, algorithms, AI, and platform economies raise profound sociological questions about identity, community, inequality, work, governance, and human relationships.

The course aims to provide a sociological framework for addressing policy issues surrounding justice, rights, and the public good in an increasingly technologized era. Students come away with enhanced abilities to evaluate technological impacts from a sociological perspective.

Learning and teaching

On successful completion of the module a student will be able to:

By the end of the module students should have enhanced sociological capacities to understand, evaluate, and address issues of digital technology and society. The module aims to cultivate their skills as thinkers and advocates in relation to our increasingly digitised era.

  • Understand and apply key sociological theories and concepts to analyse issues related to technology and digital life. The course introduces foundational ideas like postmodernism, poststructuralism, and critical theory that provide lenses for examining digital society.
  • Critically evaluate the social impacts of digital technologies on areas like identity, community, inequality, work, relationships, activism, governance, and more. Students will gain competency assessing technological effects from a sociological perspective.
  • Analyse topics such as digital divides, platform power, algorithmic bias, automation, surveillance capitalism, digital relationships, online activism, and digital regulation. The module covers a breadth of salient issues at the intersection of technology and society.
  • Examine both utopian and dystopian outcomes of technological change using sociological evidence and real-world cases. Students will be challenged to think in nuanced ways about complex tech issues.
  • Apply sociological understanding to develop policies, campaigns, and interventions aimed at addressing issues of justice, ethics, rights, and the public good in digital life. Students will gain practical skills for digital citizenship.
  • Communicate critical analysis of technology issues through writing in diverse formats like essays, reports, policy briefs, and research papers. The course builds analytical and communication abilities.
  • Develop informed perspectives on regulating technology companies, algorithms, AI, social media, and data in line with human values. Students gain frameworks for governance.

Coursework and assessment

The module will be assessed via portfolio consisting of 4 activities, which will be assessed formatively throughout the duration of the module.

Students will be encouraged to build their portfolio throughout the duration of the module.

Reading suggestions

Week 1:

  • Lupton, D. (2015). Chapter 1 Introduction. In Digital Sociology. Routledge.
  • Fuchs, C. (2020). Chapter 1 Introduction. In Social Media: A Critical Introduction. SAGE.

Week 2:

  • Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. Basic Books.
  • Marwick, A.E., & Boyd, d. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114-133.

Week 3:

  • Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 6(3), 341-362.
  • Eubanks, V. (2018). The digital poorhouse. In Automating inequality: How high-tech tools profile, police and punish the poor. St Martin's Press.

Week 4:

  • Gillespie, T. (2010). The politics of ‘platforms’. New Media & Society, 12(3), 347-364.
  • Foster, R. & McChesney, R. W. (2014). Surveillance capitalism. Monthly Review, 66(3), 1-31.

Week 5:

  • Zuboff, S. (2019). Surveillance capitalism and the challenge of collective action. New Labour Forum, 28(1), 10-29.

Week 6:

  • O'Neil, C. (2017). Chapter 1. In Weapons of math destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. Broadway Books.
  • Taylor, L. (2017). What is data justice? The case for connecting digital rights and freedoms globally. Big Data & Society, 4(2). doi:10.1177/2053951717736335

Week 7:

  • Pascoe, C.J. (2011). Resource and risk: Youth sexuality and new media use.  Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 8(1), 5-17.
  • Baym, N. (2015). Chapter 1: New forms of personal connection, In: Personal connections in the digital age. John Wiley & Sons.

Week 8:

  • Tufekci, Z. (2017). Twitter and tear gas: The power and fragility of networked protest.  Yale University Press.
  • Treré, E. and Kaun, A. (2021) Digital Media Activism: A situated, Historical, and Ecological Approach Beyond the Technological Sublime, in: Digital Roots. De Gruyter Oldenbourg

Week 9:

  • Srnicek, N. (2017). Platform capitalism. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Standing, G. (2017). Basic income: And how we can make it happen. Penguin UK.

Week 10:

  • Van Dijck, J. (2014). Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society, 12(2), 197-208.
  • Cobbe, J. & Singh, J. (2021). Regulating recommending: Motivations, considerations, and principles. European Journal of Law and Technology, 12(3).

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.