Digital Technology, Speed and Culture

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Judy Wajcman S203


This course is available on the BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course aims to give students a detailed understanding of sociologically informed approaches to the social studies of science and technology. It will consider how macro theories of post-industrial society (from Bell to Castells) have conceptualised the role of technology in social change. It will then look at the development of STS as a field that highlights the constitutive role of objects and artefacts in social relations. In other words, it will reflect upon sociology’s traditional neglect of the social life of things or materiality. These broad themes will then be elaborated substantively. First, by considering the role of technology in reconfiguring time, speed, space and mobility. Second, by considering power relations and social inequalities embedded in digital technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones. Third, by treating technology as a culture that shapes gender identities, such as those that find expression in the virtuality of cyberspace. The course will draw on examples from a variety of domains including information and communication technologies, robotics, cyborgs, sex, and weapons.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare one essay per term of 1500 – 2000 words and at least one presentation per term.

Indicative reading

Hackett, E. et al (2008) The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (MIT Press)

MacKenzie, D. and Wajcman J. (1999) The Social Shaping of Technology (MIT Press).

Suchman, L. (2007) Human-Machine Configurations (CUP)

Turkle, S. (2011) Alone Together (Basic Books)

Wajcman, J. (2004) TechnoFeminism (Polity Press)

Zittrain, J. (2008) The Future of the Internet (Allen Lane)


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the ST.

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Two hard copies of the assessed essay with submission sheets on each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the second Wednesday of Summer Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Capped 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information