Deborah Lupton has posted a comprehensive and helpful list of the reasons why sociologists should study digital media. The post on her This Sociological Life blog argues for the centrality of digital media in a range of social processes, practices and spheres. This builds on the work that Deborah is doing for her next book which will provide an introduction to digital sociology. The list she provides in this post shows just how socially significant digital media are and how they now permeate many of the topics that social scientists are interested in. Effectively this post makes clear that it should not be only those interested in the Internet or new media who should consider the value of digital sociology. This post outlines the way that digital media are reworking the social world. As Deborah’s third point indicates, many of sociology’s traditional topics and areas of focus are implicated by digital media. The post then provides a comprehensive and compelling account of why digital media are important and why all sociologist need to consider their implications. This is the conclusion to Deborah’s post:
As this list implies, digital sociology goes well beyond simply a focus on ‘the digital’. It raises major questions about what should be the focus and methods of contemporary sociological research and theorising. As such, sociologists writing about digital media are important contributors to debates about the future of sociology and how the discipline can remain vibrant, creative and responsive to new developments and social change.
The focus on digital media and digital sociology can help with developing a vibrant future for sociology. Being aware of the developments that are the focus of digital sociology will enable sociology to adapt to a changing world. This seems like an important argument and I’m sure Deborah’s book, which is due out next year, will make an important contribution to the debates on the future of sociology.
Here is a previous post on the topic of digital sociology and here is a short audio interview I did with Mark Carrigan on what digital data means for sociology (it covers some of the same issues about the centrality of digital data in social processes).