Forms of sociality and digital media

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The purpose of this workshop is to explore the challenges and possibilities for social science research in new forms of sociality associated with contemporary digital communications technologies.

Forms of sociality mediated by digital technology (in particular the internet and mobile phones) are increasingly the focus of social science research in disciplines including sociology and anthropology, linguistics, geography, and media and communications. They focus on issues such as: dating and marriage brokered on the web, cybersex, gaming and role play, developing forms of language, political organising and new kinds of economic transactions. The field referred to as ‘social informatics’ encompasses the impact of information technology on social and organisational change, and the influence of social practices and social forces on new technologies.

This emerging field challenges the conventional research strategies of social science and humanities researchers which presume the experience of face to face interactions, but it also allows new media-based research strategies. Emerging social practices associated with digital technologies are the subject of media comment, which is commonly characterised by ‘moral panic’: relationships brokered over the internet are suspect because people are ‘inauthentic’; role play games allow another kind of inauthenticity; gaming produces anti-social thoughts and behaviour; economic transactions are subject to fraud; children online are subject to forms of commercial and personal exploitation; SMS messaging and chat rooms are debasing language.

The purpose of this workshop is to explore the challenges and possibilities for social science research in new forms of sociality associated with contemporary digital communications technologies.

The workshop will bring together academics researching new forms of sociality and digital media, users of this media, its commercial providers and its regulators to address questions such as: what are the possibilities, limitations and ethical considerations for social research in cyberspace? and, can commercial and academic research in this area combine to enliven public debates about social futures and address community anxieties about emergent forms of social relations associated with new information and communication technologies?

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Contact Information

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

    ABN: 59 957 839 703
  • Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
  • Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • +61 .2 62491788
  • +61 .2 62474335
  • secretariat@assa.edu.au

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