Skip to main content

Theorising Digital Society: Symposium

Panel Discussion: Evelyn Honeywill, Nicola Johnson and myself. Chaired by Deborah Lupton
I attended a symposium convened by Deborah Lupton, Theorizing Digital Society, on Monday held at the University of Canberra. The twitter hashtag was #TDS15 for those who'd like to engage in the conversation around the symposium. Here is a collection of the tweets so far. There were a number of very interesting talks presented on the day. I particularly enjoyed the opening keynote speech by Susan Halford on the continuing importance of social theory in the world of big data and web science.  Evelyn Honeywill's paper on network character and broader psycho-social dynamics of  social media and Jean Burgess and Ariadna Matamoro's paper on issue-networks and mapping techniques applied to the #gamergate controversy were also highlights for me.  My paper applied Legitimation Code Theory to  the knowledge practices of climate sceptics bloggers and their framing of the 'climategate' controversy.  The presentation deviated from the abstract in one key respect, I decided that it would be more fruitful to apply the theoretical tools to a small preliminary case study than merely arguing from the existing literature for their efficacy.  Here is the title and abstract in any case: 

Title: Theorizing Digital Social Networksand the Problem of Knowledge-Blindness: The Case of the Climate ScepticBlogosphere.

Abstract: Rogers and Marres (2000) saw the World Wide Web as an important site for the discussion of science and technology.  Networks of issue based websites were argued to constitute socio-epistemic networks. Linking patterns between sites on climate change indicated a politics of association and a hierarchy of credibility.  Sites with the URL extension .org linked up the hierarchy to .gov; but .gov did not engage in reciprocal linking practices. Replicating the traditional hierarchy of credibility between official and non-official sources of information.  Recent events have demonstrated the ability of digital social networks to disrupt traditional hierarchies of credibility.  In 2009 emails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit were published on four climate scepticism blogs and lead to a public controversy that strengthened the counter-movement against action on climate change.  The role of blogs in the ‘climategate’ controversy spurred the growth of literature concerned with the dynamics of climate scepticism on digital social networks.  This paper examines this emerging literature and identifies the need to combine social network theory and conceptualizations of knowledge practice to better understand counter-movements and the disruption of traditional hierarchies of credibility on digital social networks.


Rogers, R. and N. Marres (2000). "Landscaping Climate Change: A Mapping Technique for Understanding Science and Technology Debates on the World Wide Web." Public Understanding of Science 9(2): 141-163.


Popular posts from this blog

Zaibatsu Dissolution, Reparations and Administrative Guidance.

During a lecture before the Eugenics Society in 1937, British economist John Maynard Keynes stated that “a greater cumulative increment than 1 per cent per annum in the standard of life has seldom proved practicable”. Moreover, Keynes continued, “generally speaking the rate of improvement seems to have been somewhat less then 1 per cent per annum cumulative”. Of course, Keynes was speaking during the great depression, and therefore his remarks may be tainted with a particular pessimism. But they draw into sharp relief the experience of economic growth in post-war Japan: between 1950 and 1973, GDP growth averaged 10%, a rate of sustained growth never before seen .By 1962, the English publication Economist, with poetic flair, dubbed Japan’s recovery an “economic miracle” . This designation caught on and became a general catch phrase for spectacular economic growth. In the case of Japan, a multitude of explanations have arisen for why Japan underwent an ‘economic miracle’. Crucial to el…

Ideology and Symbolic power: Between Althusser and Bourdieu.

Western Marxism has often laid considerable stress upon the ideology of modern capitalist societies. This focus upon ideology stems from the failure of proletarian revolution to have either occurred, or establish socialism within Western Europe. The exact nature and function of ideology became paramount in Marxian explanations of the continued stability of Western capitalism after the Great War and Great Depression. Marxian conceptualizations of symbolic domination (under the notion of ideology) remain in the realm of consciousness and intellectual frameworks. Pierre Bourdieu developed a paradigm for understanding symbolic power and domination through his theory of dispositional practices that breaks with the concept of ideology and it basis in the tradition of ‘Kantian intellectualism’. This theoretical model both deepens and broadens the sociological understanding of symbolic power and domination, through the acknowledgment of non-intellectual and bodily elements in the dynamics of…

Liberalism and Colonialism.

The first major wave of European colonization was initiated after the discovery of the Americas by Columbus in the late 15th century. The Colonization of these new lands was at first justified by the catholic nations as their duty to proselytize Christianity. Therefore their domination of the indigenous population was alleged to be of a great service to them, saving their souls from eternal damnation. This ‘Civilizing’ project was also used in an adapted form by British liberal political philosophers to justify their nation’s own colonization and empire building. Liberalism is a political philosophy that developed during the age of Enlightenment, noted for its ideals of individual freedom and rights. Two of Liberalism’s most prominent advocates; John Locke and John Stuart Mill supported the practice of colonialism. The rationalization of colonialism by Locke has been argued to represent the bankruptcy of western liberalism and its purported universal respect for human rights. To asce…