Mission Statement

The ITDS research cluster has been formed with the belief that technology is central to our understanding of contemporary social life. While sociologists commonly reference the fundamental shifts in social organization and relations stemming from the technologically-driven Industrial Revolution, there has been less of a focus in our discipline on the similar impacts arising from the Digital Revolution and proliferation of digital technologies in society. Much work on the latter has been treated as interdisciplinary or taken up by other fields including Communications and Information Science. We would like to emphasize its contribution as an important area of research specifically within sociology. Furthermore, for sociologists who currently do study such topics, they are often secondary focuses within other pillars of sociology, including race, class, gender, inequality and stratification, work and occupations, social networks, health, culture, criminology, political sociology, etc. The growing interest in internet/technology topics at the CSA in recent years has prompted the establishment of this research cluster to serve as a centralized location for sharing ideas among all sociologists interested in the internet, technology, and digital sociology in a way that reduces the current fragmentation of this discourse.

This cluster supports all research related to cyberspace and online environments, as well as the implications in face-to-face interactions due to technological interventions. Some topics of interest to this cluster include: digital access and inequality, digitally-mediated communication, how technology influences relationships (e.g., professional, friendship, romantic), online self-expression (e.g., identity, performativity), cyber-bullying and online crime/deviance, the role of technology in teaching and education, methodological challenges and affordances of online data (including big data), and many others.

There are three identified goals associated with this research cluster:

  • Create a space for sharing ideas and resources among members interested in the social implications of internet/technology, while promoting the development of ITDS as an important area of sociological inquiry.
  • Connect those who are interested in critically rethinking classical and contemporary sociological theory and methods in light of the internet and digital technologies. We aim to create a forum for critical discussion of the status of digital sociology and, more broadly, the historical impact of the internet and technology on sociological theory and methods.
  • Facilitate networking, community building, and collaborating between members who share research and teaching interests. We also would like to support connections with other CSA research clusters, as well as with international scholars participating in similar groups (e.g., CITAMS within the American Sociological Association).

We plan to organize sessions at the annual meetings of the CSA that touch on a diverse set of topics and theoretical frameworks related to ITDS in order to formally accommodate and consolidate this increasing academic interest in ways that benefit the growth of this area in Canadian sociology. Additionally, we intend to provide a platform for members to determine the future of this research cluster and to foster new perspectives and developments in the sociological study of the internet and technology.

The inaugural meeting of this research cluster and sponsored conference sessions took place during the CSA@Congress at the University of British Columbia in June 2019. We look forward to expanding our membership and meeting new interested scholars at CSA 2020.