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Digital Media and Society: An Introduction



Digital Media and Society: An Introduction

Adrian Athique

ISBN: 978-0-745-66228-2 March 2013 Polity 304 Pages



The rise of digital media has been widely regarded as transforming the nature of our social experience in the twenty-first century. The speed with which new forms of connectivity and communication are being incorporated into our everyday lives often gives us little time to stop and consider the social implications of those practices. Nonetheless, it is critically important that we do so, and this sociological introduction to the field of digital technologies is intended to enable a deeper understanding of their prominent role in everyday life.

The fundamental theoretical and ethical debates on the sociology of the digital media are presented in accessible summaries, ranging from economy and technology to criminology and sexuality. Key theoretical paradigms are explored through a broad range of contemporary social phenomena – from social networking and virtual lives to the rise of cybercrime and identity theft, from the utopian ideals of virtual democracy to the Orwellian nightmare of the surveillance society, from the free software movement to the implications of online shopping.

As an entry-level pathway for students in sociology, media, communications and cultural studies, the aim of this work is to situate the rise of digital media within the context of a complex and rapidly changing world.

Detailed table of contents

List of Figures



Part I: Digital Histories

Chapter 1: Building a Digital Society

Chapter 2: The Socio-Technical Interface

Chapter 3: Typing the User

Chapter 4: Audience As Community

Part II: Digital Individuals

Chapter 5: Pleasing Bodies

Chapter 6: Reality Checks

Chapter 7: My Personal Public

Chapter 8: Going Mobile

Part III: Digital Economies

Chapter 9: The Road To Serverdom

Chapter 10: Digital Property

Chapter 11: Consuming Power

Chapter 12: Information At Work

Part IV: Digital Authorities

Chapter 13: Virtual Democracy

Chapter 14: Under Scrutiny

Chapter 15: Managing Risk

Chapter 16: Living in a Cloud



"A concise and eclectic yet satisfactorily rich and well contextualized account of digital life."
Canadian Journal of Sociology

‘Adrian Athique’s introduction brings digital media, and its culture, politics and economics, into sharp focus. This book provides an essential outline of the digital world; it is accessible to all while remaining complex enough to be accurate.’
Tim Jordan, King’s College London

Digital Media and Society is a comprehensive, compelling and critical examination of the social and cultural consequences of digital media and communication technologies. The book provides a cohesive and coherent look at the present digital state of society, and it explains how the digital present came to be and what its consequences are. It is written in a clear, jargon-free manner and filled with information and questions that make it a remarkably useful teaching text.’
Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • An entry level text that examines the rise of digital media within the context of a rapidly changing world
  • Key theoretical debates on the sociology of digital media are presented in accessible summaries
  • Wide-ranging, contemporary social phenomena are used to explore key theoretical paradigms
  • The rise of digital media is a key topic for students of media and digital culture and is widely regarded as transforming the nature of the 21st century social experience