Spring 2016 - SA 315 D100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 8963

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 5 – Apr 11, 2016: Wed, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Matthew Guffin



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 provides an overview of some of the ways new information technologies have impacted human societies. We will critically examine a number of the factors that have shaped information technologies, as well as how these technologies have recruited humans into new ways of doing and being. Course readings include some defining texts that we will read along with ones that are more specific in how they address such issues as inequality, mobile technologies, privacy, community-building, and the like. An important component of the course will be a modest ethnographic project that you will conduct throughout the term, focusing on an online community. In conducting your project, you will learn more about how human systems operate in an online setting and will develop skills in conducting ethnographic research in an online context. The goal of the course is to develop theoretical tools for analyzing how information technologies affect societies and our lives, and to develop a set of qualitative research and presentation skills that can be applied to other courses and beyond.


  • Class Participation and Attendance: 15%
  • Weekly Reading Responses: 15%
  • Ethnographic Project Proposal: 5%
  • Initial Field Notes/Interviews Write-up: 15%
  • Theoretical Framework: 20%
  • Final Online Ethnography Project: 30%


Grades in this class will be based on a percentage scale. Reading responses will not be accepted after 12 noon the Tuesday before class; late submissions for all other assignments will result in a grade reduction of 5 percentage points per day, unless you present documentation for a medical reason or other significant emergency. With the exception of reading responses, all graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy
The Department of Sociology and 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: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



boyd, danah. 2014. It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale
University Press.

Burrell, Jenna. 2012. Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana. Cambridge,
Mass.: MIT Press.

Gerbaudo, Paolo. 2012. Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism.
London: Pluto Press.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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