Digital Society: Digital Technology, Inequality and Culture SOCIO4121

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course aims to foster knowledge about the social dynamics of digital technologies, platforms and services in society. The course will develop sociological understanding of the way in which digital technologies are socially shaped and how they feature in the social relations of society and in specific social contexts.. In order to develop critical understanding of the way in which digital technology features in social life the course will cover the history of the Internet and WWW and introduce students to three main approaches in the social study of technology. It will then examine key areas in the structuring of society through human-technology interactions and the array of social practices that surround and give meaning to the use of digital technology. This includes the way in which the digital shapes notions of community and identity, how digital technologies are adapted and used in the context of both the domestic environment and working life as well as the ways in which the digital has permeated educational policies and discourses about literacy and citizenship. The course also addresses the interweaving of digital technologies with broader questions of social justice and inequality by analysing the concept and evidence of the digital divide and by critically assessing the opportunities but also challenges posed by AI, algorithms and broader processes of datafication.


The understanding gained about the various social contexts of digital technology forms the basis for students to assess whether digital technology is part of (but not determining) broader social change and transformation. Students will be encouraged to critically engage in this debate by drawing on the knowledge about data sources that they will have developed during the course as well as course literature, and will be introduced to various open data sources that they can draw on such as the PEW internet survey, the Oxford Internet Institute survey and open government data.



Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





One essay of 3,000 words (60%) and a one hour exam (40%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course aims to foster knowledge about the social dynamics of digital technology and services in society. The course will develop sociological understanding of the way in which the digital technologies and services are socially shaped and how they feature in the social relations of society and in specific social contexts. Students will gain a critical understanding of the role of digital technologies in everyday life, in working lives, in social policy and welfare, and in contemporary culture. They will also be able to assess the consequences of development and use of digital technology in wider social changes that characterize digital society.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify the multiple and complex ways digital technology features in social life

■ Apply methodological and ethical knowledge to the sociologically informed researching of digital technology and services.

■ Analyse the development and use of digital technology sociologically

■ Evaluate the potential of sociological theory to aid our understanding of digital technology

■ Judge competing claims concerning the role of digital technology in social change

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.