Fall 2021 - SA 315 D100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 6467

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Gary Teeple
    1 778 782-4734
    Office: AQ 5064
    Office Hours: Tu/Th 9:30-10:30, or by appointment



Explores the new social spaces and social practices fostered by new information technology. Special attention will be paid to who is making decisions about what technologies to adopt and how, what social changes are resulting, and who benefits and who loses. A significant portion of activity in this course will involve direct engagement with new information technology.


This course will explore the nature of present-day ‘information technology’ (IT) and its implications for contemporary society. The course will survey a wide range of rapidly developing computer-based technologies, beginning with an analysis of the ‘rise of the network society.’

We will then trace its many components and their interrelations, namely, the ‘digital economy’ and its impact and meaning for work and workers, ‘digital democracy’ and its implications for the political status quo and resistance, ‘big data’ and its significance for social control, the ‘internet of things’ and the meaning of a completely connected and ‘programmable’ world, the transformative nature of ‘blockchains’ and ‘decentralized autonomous organizations,’ the meaning and potential of  ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘technological singularity,’ as well as  the rise of ‘robotics,’ ‘nanotechnology,’ genetic manipulation, and ‘virtual’ institutions and activities.

Central to this survey of IT, we will examine the impact on social life and attendant political and ethical issues. Among other questions, we will ask who controls the use and development of IT and to what ends? Can it be seen as benign or neutral? Are there inherent biases and negative implications?  What do the present trends augur for the future?


The course is intended to provide the student with:

  1. a broad grasp of the scope of IT,
  2. a critical analysis of who develops, owns and uses this technology,
  3. an understanding of the implications for social life,
  4. an examination of the underlying biases in IT,
  5. an appreciation of the power and potential of the current real and possible uses, as well as its theoretically potential uses in a society not divided by class.


  • Weekly study notes 10%
  • Critical book review 40%
  • Term essay 50%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



All readings will be available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online as noted.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.