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Social Networks and Digital Lives

SOU44021/SOU44023 Social Networks and Digital Lives

Module Content/Outline:

This course looks at the trends in the digital society: inequality, connectedness, big data, changing norms, loss of privacy, gamification, changing ways of producing and consuming new, and asks what are the implications for our everyday lives, and for the institutions and norms which shape how we live, of the increased connectedness of our age? We will explore the structure and features of digital technologies and social networks and their implications for collective behaviour from economic, political and social perspectives.

Learning Objectives:

Students successfully completing the module will be able to:

  • Understand the role of structural explanation in the social sciences and social networks as a specific instance of this.
  • Know the meaning and empirical measurement of the network concepts of density, centrality, clique and cluster.
  • Understand the relationship between social network analysis and core debates within sociology around social cohesion, cooperation, community and individual identity.
  • Understand the role of social networks in the maintenance and breakdown of social norms and the implications of this for social change. 
  • Be able to explain and apply dynamic social network processes in small world, diffusion and tipping models.
  • Understand the different ways of defining and measuring the digital divide.
  • Be able to explain the changing nature of the labour market and the role of digital technologies.
  • Know the meaning of ‘fake news’ and its implications for social cohesion and democracy.
  • Understand how digital technologies can be used by both democratic and authoritarian states and the implications of this.

Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

One lecture and one tutorial per week.

Workload: Lectures: 22 hrs; Tutorials: 22 hrs; Exams/assignments: 22 hrs; Self-study: 284 hrs. Total: 350 hours.

Recommended texts/ Key Reading:

  • Students will be expected to have read the articles and book chapters listed under ‘readings’. Obviously, the list of recommended readings is not comprehensive and you are free, indeed encouraged, to read beyond the reading list. There is no textbook for the module but you may want to look at the following which are excellent, accessible introductions to social network analysis:
  • Watts, D.J (2004) Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, Vintage Books, London.
  • Christakis, N. (2011) Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Harper Press, London.

Assessment

Coursework 100%