Fall 2023 - SA 315 D100

New Information Technology and Society (SA) (4)

Class Number: 5471

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



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 social and cultural factors that have shaped the use of 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. The course’s materials draw from a variety of sources: scholarly articles, music, films, and YouTube videos.

Lectures will not extensively cover the assigned readings but will rather be complementary to them. It is therefore imperative that you do the readings before class so that you can make substantive contributions to class discussion each week. To that end, you will write responses to each week’s readings. An important component of the course will be a modest ethnographic project that you will conduct throughout the term, focusing on an online community (a particular forum, Instagram feed, online game, or the like—there are countless possibilities). 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 society and our lives, and to develop a set of qualitative research methods and presentation skills that can be applied to other courses and beyond. We approach this project as partners, and will be insightful and generous critics with the material and each other.


  • Class Participation and Attendance 15%
  • Weekly Materials Responses 15%
  • Assignment 1 30%
  • Assignment 2 40%


Grades in this class will be based on a percentage scale. Reading responses will not be accepted after 12:00 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

: 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 Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). 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.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



boyd, danah. 2014. It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press. [Listed in course schedule as boyd. Available on our Canvas site.]


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.