Fall 2017 - SA 315 J100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 6934

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Thu, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Ataman Avdan
    Office Hours: Thursdays, 16:00-17:00 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.


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, technological determinism, IT use and skills, technology and the body, the digital divide, technology discourse, virtual communities, presumption, information commons, online dating, digital surveillance, social networking sites, e-democracy, and political participation through social media.


By the end of this course, students are expected to 1) be able to identify the main themes of sociology of new information technologies; 2) be able to think critically, analytically, and creatively about technological and sociological problems contemporary societies experience; 3) have a detailed knowledge of a number of case studies.


  • Participation 10%
  • Current news presentation 5%
  • Group presentation 15%
  • Critical short essay (~1250 words) 10%
  • Exam 1 (October 19, in-class) 30%
  • Exam 2 (November 30, in-class) 30%


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other 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.



Anabel Quan-Haase 2015. Technology and Society: Social Networks, Power, and Inequality.
Second Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 978-0199014712

Additional required readings available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online.

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