Not available in 2021/22
SO234      Half Unit
Digital Technology, Speed and Culture

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Judy Wajcman STC S203

Availability

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

Pre-requisites

No specific pre-requisites, but this course is only open to second and third year students in Sociology and other programmes. It is not available as a first year option. 

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.

Teaching

This course is delivered through a combination of lectures/seminars, online materials and classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours in MT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

ONE formative essay of 1,200 words will be due at the end of Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Indicative reading

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. (2015) Pressed for Time (Chicago University Press)

Wajcman, J. (2014) TechnoFeminism (Polity Press).

Assessment

Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the MT.

The course is assessed by ONE summative essay of 3,000 words that is worth 100% of the total mark.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day. Assessed essay due Thursday of Week 11 of MT. 

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

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 26

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication