Spring 2021 - SA 315 D100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 5552

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 12:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 19, 2021
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Ataman Avdan
    Office Hours: Fr 11:00-12:00 or by appointment via Zoom



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.


The impact of new information technologies on our lives is never straightforward. New information technologies represent a complex set of practices, norms, and values that reflect and shape our understandings about community, temporality, gender, labour, inequality, personhood, privacy, space, and politics. They present contemporary societies with immense challenges and opportunities; they are changing our perceptions of ourselves, the world around us, the institutions we create, and the social relationships we form. This course introduces students to the roles new information technologies play in society, and it examines the intersections between technological innovations and societal change. We will investigate how new information technologies mediate, alter, or entrench power relations, social hierarchies, and cultural practices. Since new information technologies depend on the broader socio-economic and political contexts, this course puts a strong emphasis on the contextual conditions that shape the relationships between technology, the individual, and society. The course covers topics and themes such as utopian and dystopian views of technology, acceleration, the embeddedness of digital technologies, the social construction of technology, technological determinism, IT use and skills, technology and the body, the digital divide, online communities, prosumption, online dating, digital surveillance, social networking sites, e-democracy, and political participation through social media. 


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. identify the main themes of the sociology of new information technologies;
  2. critically explore issues and key questions from the literature;
  3. analyze relationships between new information technologies and social structures;
  4. critically evaluate the challenges and opportunities that new information technologies present;
  5. synthesize course material verbally through in-class discussions and in writing.


  • Participation 15%
  • Annotations (5 x 2%) 10%
  • Group presentation 10%
  • Self-reflective critical essay 15%
  • Midterm exam (take-home/open book) 20%
  • Final exam (take-home/open book) 30%


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 otherwise 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 spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).