Sociological Thinking in the Digital Age
Module Code: SOC41070 (UCD)
- ECTS Credit : 10
- Mandatory/ Optional : Optional
- Module Coordinator : Dr Taha Yasseri, School of Sociology, UCD
The ongoing digital transformation of our societies has had quite a few “biproducts”, among them is the unprecedented amount of transactional digital data that we produce as we go about our daily lives, also known as big data. Big Data are being used to study the very same digital transformation that led to their generation, as well as more general and fundamental aspects of our social lives in the framework of computational social science and beyond. From the sociology point of view, a very first question to ask would be about the relevance of social theory to the “digitalized” study of humans. Some of the fundamental concept and theories in social studies were developed even before empirical sociology had become fashionable. Are those theories still relevant when machine learning is slowly becoming a common item in the toolset of social scientists? How is social theory being challenged, modified, and even ignored in our modern approach to studying humans and societies? How can social theory shape and motivate computational social science research? In this module, we seek to answer these questions through a short review of the main key concepts in sociology followed by an extended discussion on how they can be materialised and deployed in data-driven research through reviewing examples of successful and unsuccessful research programmes and analytical discussions.
On successful completion of the module students should be able to:
- Understand the main sociological theories developed over the past two centuries to explain social phenomena;
- Define and recognise Big Data and their differences; with the data generated in more traditional approaches such as surveys and interviews;
- Understand the relevance of social theory to data-driven research;
- Discuss the affordances and challenges in relation to materialising concepts central to sociological theory in the framework of data-driven research;
- Outline the main modifications needed for a new framework of sociological theory that responds to a more solution-oriented sociology.
Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:
- Module Length: 12 weeks (Hilary Term)
- Workload: Readings: 70hrs; Summative assessment (e.g. essays, journals): 130hrs. Total: 200 hours
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3,000 word essay on a set of pre-defined topics (70%), Presentation (30%)