Science, Technology and Society

Our Science, Technology and Society list publishes books that examine the social, political and economic implications of developments in science and technology.

Path-breaking book series include Dis-positions: Troubling Methods and Theory in STS and Contemporary Issues in Science Communication.

Science, Technology and Society

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This chapter considers how the emerging field of digital research methods can be applied in a life course approach to family studies. It first describes the methodological dimensions of the life course approach to family studies before discussing what analytical elements of this approach may be aligned with digital methods. It then provides examples of digital methods present in family studies and goes on to examine digital thinking that leads to the development of three tropes through which to order and align digital approaches: networks, big data and ubiquity. It also explains how digital research methods may be used to identify data sources (such as the use of digital traces of online activity within social media), within data collection techniques (such as web scraping techniques) and through data analysis approaches, including data visualisation. The chapter concludes by highlighting the limitations and ethical issues of employing these methods.

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This chapter examines how digital media practices, relating to care and intimacy (the ‘intimate surveillance’), are being played out in the daily lives of intergenerational and cross-cultural families in Melbourne, Australia. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Melbourne with thirteen households in 2015–2016, it considers how ‘doing family’ practices — the ways that family members maintain co-presence through routines and everyday tasks — are interwoven with intergenerational and cross-cultural relationships, revealing textures of intimacy and boundary work that intersect with the mundane to create new types of social surveillance and disappearance. The chapter also introduces the framework of ‘digital kinship’, which provides a life course perspective to take into account the differing roles, positions, meanings and contexts over a person’s lifespan, and concludes with a discussion of how friendly surveillance, staying in touch and caring at a distance are made possible through social media platforms.

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Information & Communication Technologies, generations, and the life course

Are Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) connecting families? And what does this mean in terms of family routines, relationships, norms, work, intimacy and privacy?

This edited collection takes a life course and generational perspective covering theory, including posthumanism and strong structuration theory, and methodology, including digital and cross-disciplinary methods. It presents a series of case studies on topics such as intergenerational connections, work-life balance, transnational families, digital storytelling and mobile parenting.

It will give students, researchers and practitioners a variety of tools to make sense of how ICTs are used, appropriated and domesticated in family life. These tools allow for an informed and critical understanding of ICTs and family dynamics.

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This book examines how information and communication technologies (ICTs) relate to family life (including intergenerational relationships, routines, norms, work, intimacy, and privacy). Drawing on theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches, it explores how ICTs are used and integrated in family dynamics and what opportunities and challenges arise from that use in a life course perspective. The book features contributions from researchers who attended conferences of the International Sociological Association (ISA), the last of which was held in 2016 in Vienna, Austria. Topics include technology adoption within family and the life course; the use of communication technologies such as emailing and texting for the maintenance of intergenerational solidarity; the impact of ICTs on storytelling processes among transnational families; and how ICTs affect the permeability of work–family borders. This chapter explains the concepts of family, generations, ICTs, and the life course before concluding with an overview of the organisation of the book.

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This chapter reports on the design and implementation of cross-disciplinary research methods for investigating technology adoption in later life as well as family and life course dynamics. Drawing on a mixed methods, action research project on technology and social connectedness, facilitated by a team of sociologists and human–computer interaction (HCI) researchers, it examines the use of a digital communication technology to study social isolation and loneliness in later life. The chapter first provides an overview of the deployment and feasibility design of the study, the deployment stages and procedures, data analysis and participants before discussing the lessons learned. It concludes with an assessment of the challenges and opportunities of cross-disciplinary and mixed-method research to study technologies, families, and the life course. One of the ways that cross-disciplinary mixed methods approaches can enhance family and life course studies is by capturing the immediacy of life transitions.

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Are information and communication technologies (ICTs) connecting families? And what does this mean in terms of family routines, relationships, norms, work, intimacy and privacy? This book takes a life course and generational perspective covering theory, including posthumanism and strong structuration theory, and methodology, including digital and cross-disciplinary methods. It presents a series of case studies on topics such as intergenerational connections, work–life balance, transnational families, digital storytelling and mobile parenting. It will give students, researchers and practitioners a variety of tools to make sense of how ICTs are used, appropriated and domesticated in family life. These tools allow for an informed and critical understanding of ICTs and family dynamics.

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Are information and communication technologies (ICTs) connecting families? And what does this mean in terms of family routines, relationships, norms, work, intimacy and privacy? This book takes a life course and generational perspective covering theory, including posthumanism and strong structuration theory, and methodology, including digital and cross-disciplinary methods. It presents a series of case studies on topics such as intergenerational connections, work–life balance, transnational families, digital storytelling and mobile parenting. It will give students, researchers and practitioners a variety of tools to make sense of how ICTs are used, appropriated and domesticated in family life. These tools allow for an informed and critical understanding of ICTs and family dynamics.

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This chapter examines the effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on storytelling as a practice of communication among transnational families. It describes three technological affordances that are linked to digital storytelling practices of six Colombian migrant families residing in Montreal, Canada: presence, interactivity, and multimodality. After providing an overview of the methodological approach employed in the research study and the techniques used to collect and analyse the data, the chapter discusses the findings with regard to the views of the participant families about the dynamics of their post-migration storytelling experiences. More specifically, it considers the Colombian families’ perspectives about being present during their digital interactions. An important finding is that digital mediation seems to be altering family storytelling. For some families, ICTs catalyse storytelling in situations where presence and multimodality take place; for others, ICTs constrain family storytelling when the illusion of nonmediation is not experienced.

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This chapter explores the use of technologies as objects and tools in family research. It first considers four main sociological objects that are involved in the interplay between family life and information and communication technologies (ICTs): intimate couple life, intergenerational relationships, transnational or migrant families, and the life course. It then discusses the positive and negative social effects of ICT usage in family life before describing a project based on the life course approach, with a family-centred methodology as the privileged unit of analysis, that utilised CAQDAS (computer assisted qualitative data analysis software) to investigate the processes of social mobility in Portugal over recent decades. The chapter shows that technologies can be envisaged both as an object of study (technology usage and its impact on family relationships in a life course perspective) and as an instrument (technology as a tool).

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This chapter examines the affordances of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the different intergenerational practices of oversharing online. Using the concepts of ‘aesthetics of appearance’ (representation that endures over time and space) and ‘aesthetics of disappearance’ (constant presentism), it asks what prompts oversharing, what oversharing reveals about our life stages and the state of being human in an age of over-acceleration dominated by ICTs, and how oversharing affects our embodied phenomenology. The chapter first provides an overview of ideas about acceleration and the resulting aesthetics of disappearance, as proposed by philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio, before discussing how the phenomenon of oversharing is mediated by social media platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat. It then considers whether posting selfies on a Facebook page constitutes oversharing and whether oversharing (real-time presence) achieves what Virilio calls an aesthetics of disappearance. Finally, it explores how oversharing impacts social interactions and intergenerational relationships.

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