Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research
May 2017, Polity
This provocative new introduction to the field of digital sociology offers a critical overview of interdisciplinary debates about new ways of knowing society that are emerging today at the interface of computing, media, social research and social life.
Digital Sociology introduces key concepts, methods and understandings that currently inform the development of specifically digital forms of social enquiry. Marres assesses the relevance and usefulness of digital methods, data and techniques for the study of sociological phenomena and evaluates the major claim that computation makes possible a new ‘science of society’. As Marres argues, the digital does much more than inspire innovation in social research: it forces us to engage anew with fundamental sociological questions. We must learn to appreciate that the digital has the capacity to throw into crisis existing knowledge frameworks and is likely to reconfigure wider relations.
This timely engagement with a key transformation of our age will be indispensable reading for undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in digital sociology, digital media, computing and society.
1. What is digital sociology?
2. What makes digital technologies social?
3. Do we need new methods?
4. Are we researching society or technology?
5. Who are digital sociology’s publics?
6. Does digital sociology have problems?
‘Digital Sociology is definitive for anyone interested in social research with digital data. Lucidly and generatively, it analyses how digital data increasingly render knowledge a core contemporary social problem. Drawing on great experience with digital methods, and excellent sociological and philosophical scholarship, Marres generously and incisively explores the predicaments of knowing the digital and digital knowing. The remarkable re-configurative potential of the book ranges from practical and technical considerations through to ethical and ontological questions associated with social life.’
Adrian MacKenzie, Lancaster University
‘Arguing that the advent of digital sociology affords an opportunity for wider critical reflection on social research, Noortje Marres is the perfect guide to developments and debates in computationally mediated methods and sociality. The scope and acuity of her review illustrate cogently how social worlds and their analyses are perpetually conjoined.’
Lucy Suchman, President of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
‘Digital Sociology presents an intelligent and empathetic account of social enquiry with and against digital infrastructures. Among its many strengths is the licence it offers to problematize and conjure up objects for research in interaction with actors – digital and otherwise – who are busy redefining knowledge, sociality and politics.’
Brit Ross Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen