Spring 2020 - SA 315 D100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 3130

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Tue, Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Gary Teeple
    1 778 782-4734
    Office: AQ 5064



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 ‘information technology’ (IT), and the implications for the present order of society. The course will attempt to spell out the wide scope of these technologies through systematic description and analysis. We will begin with an analysis of the ‘rise of the network society,’ and then trace many of its components and their interrelations:

  1. the ‘digital economy’ and its impact and meaning for work and workers,
  2. ‘digital democracy’ and its implications for the political status quo and resistance,
  3. ‘big data’ and its significance for social control,
  4. the ‘internet of things’ and the meaning of a completely connected and ‘programmable’ world,
  5. the transformative nature of ‘blockchains’ and ‘decentralized autonomous organizations,’
  6. the meaning and potential of ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘technological singularity,’
  7. and the advance of ‘robotics,’ ‘nanotechnology,’ genetic manipulation, and ‘virtual’ institutions and activities.
Central to this survey of IT and its implications, we will examine the impact on human life as we have known it, and on who now controls its use and development. Among other questions, we will ask if IT can 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 and the underlying biases in IT,
  4. 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.



A set of readings will be listed on the syllabus, and may be in the form of a course package.

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