Sociology of the Internet and Identities


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This is a syllabus for a sociology course on new media and how it reshapes identities and societies. Ever since the internet became a domesticated technology through the creation of the World Wide Web in 1991, it started restructuring social institutions, reorganizing rules of interaction, and mediating personal/social relationships. This course traces the history of new media through taking a historical sociological approach towards the creation of computers, hardware and software, the internet as a military technology, user-generated content, social media, and current apps as well as smartphones and other handheld devices that allow for their use. The course uses sociological theories of new media and the network society as well as sociological theories created in the pre-internet era – such as symbolic interactionism – to explain the pervasive presence of new media in society as well as our use of them. Although this is a sociology course, students also gain exposure to feminist and media theories that provide a more comprehensive view of our mediated and mediatized world where all major social institutions have changed as a result of digital technology, be it families, economies, or religions. New media has also changed social and personal identities, processes of socialization and communication. It has stratified society is newer ways, while democratizing it for people on the right side of the digital divide. This course focuses on how the Internet remodels gender and race relations, and takes a feminist intersectional approach while discussing issues of communities, policymaking, gendered representation, and social...


Resource Type(s):
Debjani Chakravarty, Utah Valley University 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Communication and Information Technologies 
Class Level:
College 400 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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In this course we study new media—its past, present, and possible futures—by employing a sociological and historical perspective. We also use theories from various interdisciplinary fields including Communication Studies, Gender Studies, and American Studies. We take an intersectional approach to understanding new media; intersectionality is a feminist theoretical framework that...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
To encourage critical and creative thinking in identifying and addressing the phenomenon of our online existence.
Assessment 1:
Applying theories and case studies: students are asked discussion questions eliciting academic responses about current events and debates about the Internet, e.g. net neutrality.
Goal 2:
To develop sociological insight and imagination pertaining to production and consumption of new media.
Assessment 2:
Journal assignment where students track and analyze their reaction to, use of, and relationship with new media. Some entries involve digital ethnography where students closely study the online environment as participant or non-participant observer.
Goal 3:
To encourage application of sociological concepts and frameworks to the study of the Internet as a social phenomenon, and learn as well as contribute to existing knowledge on information and communication technologies.
Assessment 3:
Write a paper using theories and methodologies learned in course to analyze a current event (e.g. role of new media in recent presidential elections; cyberbullying and doxxing; WikiLeaks; women and video games, etc.).Review books/films about the Interne

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