CSA 2022: Call for Abstracts Now Open!

Presentation abstracts are now being accepted for the annual Canadian Sociological Association conference, taking place virtually from May 16-20, 2022. The Internet, Technology, & Digital Sociology (ITDS) research cluster is affiliated with seven regular sessions at the conference.

Abstracts can be submitted online between December 6, 2021 and January 31, 2022. Authors will likely be notified on the acceptance of their submissions by the end of February. Abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words in length. Please visit the CSA website for full submission requirements.

Below is a list of the session descriptions for our sessions.
Call for Abstracts – ITDS 2022
ITDS Session Descriptions – CSA 2022

Technology and Society (ITD4)
Organizers: Andrew D. Nevin & Anabel Quan-Haase
Regular Session

As the sociological study of technology continues to expand, many questions remain unanswered regarding the social implications of digital technologies in our everyday lives and how they structure our relationships with larger social institutions. To this end, this general session invites papers that explore the complex intersections of technology and society, with the former broadly defined to include the Internet, computers, smartphones, ICTs, social media, and other networked devices or web platforms. We welcome all theoretical and empirical submissions using a variety of frameworks and methodological approaches that investigate either behaviours and interactions in online spaces or the outcomes of technological developments in face-to-face environments. We are especially interested in submissions that critically engage with the role of the technology in sociological inquiry as it pertains to Canada and abroad. Overall, our objective is to provide a centralized space for digital sociologists to share their diverse research interests and to foster the growth of this area within Canadian sociology.

Digital Inequality and Stratification (ITD5)
Organizers: Andrew D. Nevin & Anabel Quan-Haase
Regular Session

One of the most prominent research agendas within the sociology of technology investigates how new technological developments contribute to either lessening or compounding existing social inequalities. As our understanding of digital inequality has improved, research has shifted away from an exclusive focus on the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ to begin to highlight other types of skill-based digital divides that arise in the networked society. This session contributes to this discourse by inviting submissions that examine technology from a lens of social stratification, including topics related to Internet access, disparities in digital literacy, digital inclusion policies, precarity in the digital workforce, and many others. We are also interested in papers that discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated our understanding of digital inequalities.

Combating Online Crime and Deviance: Insights From a Sociological Lens (ITD3)
Organizer: Molly-Gloria Harper
Regular Session

With society moving toward becoming more digital, new opportunities have been afforded to potential offenders to carry out criminal and/or deviant acts. For example, offenders can take advantage of the many features and affordances that online spaces provide to them (i.e., anonymity, use of fake accounts or aliases, private messaging, spreadability, increased scope of an online audience). Subsequently, this shift has presented varying challenges to law enforcement personnel as they attempt to keep up with and investigate more online-based crimes and deviant acts, including difficulties with the collection of digital forms of evidence, among other things. The research in this session will focus on how the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being utilized to carry out cybercrimes and other delinquent acts including, but not limited to, hacking and security crimes, cyberbullying and online hate, and online predators and sexual exploitation. We also invite papers that consider the broader impacts of online offending such as the challenges facing law enforcement, vulnerabilities for individuals targeted by online forms of crime and deviance, and potential policy implications for how to effectively combat these acts.

Social Media Algorithms, Big Data and Surveillance Capitalism (ITD1)
Organizer: Michael Adorjan
Regular Session

Affordances of information communications technologies, including social media sites and applications, refer to technical features mediating, and in many respects constituting user engagement that arguably act to “encode human agency” (Introna, 2011; see also Beer, 2009). Algorithms steer attention in a saturated online attention economy marketplace, often influencing the ‘going down a rabbit hole’ experience many have experienced on sites such as YouTube. What is the current state of research on the role digital algorithms play while engaged with social media, especially given the broader context of ‘big data’ corporatization of social media and surveillance capitalism (Zuboff, 2019)? This session invites developed (i.e., findings and analysis are at least preliminary) research that advances knowledge of the connections between platforms, affordances, and wider corporate dynamics. Discussion of policy impacts, and potentially effective responses are encouraged.

Internet, Technology, & Social Movements (ITD8)
Organizer: Andrey Kasimov
Regular Session

The internet and other information technologies have become important staples in contemporary politics and social movements. For over two decades, online spaces have been able to provide security and refuge for political actors and groups facing censorship from their governments. The internet was a pivotal technology in anti-state movements such as the Arab Spring and Anonymous. At the same time, nation-states have attempted to employ information technologies to influence democratic processes globally. More recently the internet has also acted as a space where contested ideas of the far-right and alt-right have gained traction and seem to be growing. This session invites papers that broadly engage with how the internet and information technologies are being used by social movements, individual political actors, and nation states to meet their goals. We are interested in empirical contributions that engage with the variety of ways technology has come to shape and reshape political and ideological debates and involvement at both the global and local levels. Theoretical contributions that aim to develop new theory or extend contemporary theories via engagement with the internet and information technologies are especially encouraged. We are interested in high quality research that engages critically with the impact information technologies are having on our understanding of social movements and political sociology. The main goal of this session is to foster a space where social movement research and digital sociology intersect to the mutual benefit of both fields.

News Media, Sociology, and Social Change (ITD6)
Organizer: Jordan Fairbairn
Regular Session

News media are increasingly recognized as not only information sources, but as active participants in social change, and can play a key role in shifting public perception of social problems from an individual issue to a public problem (Comas-d’Argemir 2015). This session invites papers that consider the relationship between sociology, news media, and social change. Topics might include: (1) mobilizing sociology within news media; (2) academic, journalist, and advocate/activist collaboration; (3) intersectional feminist, anti-racist, and/or Indigenous media activism; (4) the relationship between social media, journalism, and activism; and (5) news media as a site of violence prevention. We are particularly interested in research that is conducted in partnership with journalists and/or community stakeholders from outside academia.

Dating in the Digital Age: Sociological Studies of Digital Sexual Spaces (ITD7)
Organizers: Alan Santinele Martino, Nicole Andrejek, & Maryam Ali
Regular Session cross-affiliated with Gender and Sexuality research cluster

In our contemporary erotic sphere, digital spaces have become central sexual arenas. We have witnessed the emergence and burgeoning of a variety of digital sexual spaces where sexual actors can consume pornography, meet romantic and sexual partners, and explore fantasies and fetishes. From Christianmingle.com to FeetFetishDating.com, digital spaces have opened possibilities for new sexual desires, practices, intimacies, subjectivities, and identities. This session aims to contribute to the empirical and theoretical sociological literature on dating and the erotic sphere in this digital age. We welcome submissions that aim to expand and re-imagine current theories to push our sociological imagination of sex and sexuality into the digital age. Submissions that offer potential research methods for empirically examining digital sexual spaces are also welcome. We are interested in papers that take critical and intersectional approaches, addressing how social locations, such as race, gender, sexualities, and class, with/in digital spaces affect the ways in which desires are structured and how ‘sexual actors’ navigate digital sexual spaces. We invite scholars to offer ways of understanding the mutual imbrication between sexual fields/spaces, sexualities, and technologies. Areas of theoretical and empirical investigation may include, for example: • Social groups who are excluded from digital sexual fields or marginalized within them • Forms of stratification and inequalities within digital sexual fields; negotiations of erotic capital • Racism, colonialism, dis/ableism, sexism in digital spaces • Hierarchies of desirability being negotiated in these digital sexual fields • Niche online spaces for a variety of sexualities • Sexual desires, and sexual practices • The regulation of these sexual spaces • Sexual harassment and violence in digital spaces • The critical role of digital sexual spaces in enabling and constraining sexual preference structures based on age, race, class, body types, etc. • The emergence of desires, subjectivities, and identities with/in online sexual spaces.

Researching Digital and Media Literacy in Canada Beyond the Academy (ITD2)
Organizers: Kara Brisson-Boivin & Samantha McAleese
Invited Panel Session

UPDATE: This panel will no longer take place during Congress, but will instead be run as a CSA webinar in the Spring. Please stay tuned for details.

This panel, facilitated by MediaSmarts, on researching digital and media literacy in Canada will feature researchers and practitioners from various organizations outside academia. While community-based groups, non-profit organizations, and other non-academic institutes have conducted robust and rigorous research studies on digital and media literacy for decades, academics working and researching inside universities are often not aware of the full scope of this work. Additionally, while non-profit and civil society organizations are often approached as partners for SSHRC grants and other funding opportunities, they struggle with a lack of compensation for their time, resources, and contributions. These relationships are necessary, especially as we work to develop a national Digital Media Literacy Strategy in Canada, but more work must be done to ensure that these partnerships are mutually beneficial. Furthermore, academics need to better understand the realities (both working and material) of the non-profit sector before approaching organizations with research proposals.

Throughout this panel discussion, we hope to highlight the research experience and expertise that exists outside of academic spaces to (a) better understand how research is organized and conducted outside of the university; (b) highlight recent projects that expand knowledge related to digital and media literacy; (c) discuss research methods that are best suited to working with diverse communities, including the shifts in research practice that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic; and (d) build meaningful connections between academic and non-academic researchers for future projects and initiatives in the area of digital and media literacy.

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