Department: Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media Ph.D. Program
Institution: NC State University
Term: Spring 2016
The rapid development and proliferation of information and communication technologies have contributed to the growth and importance of networks. We can now speak of not only communication networks but also of financial, military, social, cultural, and political networks, to name a few. These networks, and the technologies that support them have a profound effect on institutions, culture, identity formation, social organization, and communication practices generally. The rate at which new information and communication technologies are developed and the degree to which these technologies are integrated into the practices of modern society ensures the need for a constantly evolving set of theories to articulate and understand these effects and an equally strong need for the development of new research methods to study these technologically mediated network practices.
This course investigates the role of communication technology and practices in shaping our current networked society. We will explore and compare a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches for studying networks, from the traditional ideas of “network society” and rhizome, to more contemporary conceptual analysis that includes net locality, mobilities, and the internet of things.
The course will be split into two parts. In the first half, we will focus broadly on theories and methods for studying networks. We will consider primarily four conceptual views of networks: Network Society, Social Network Analysis, Actor-Network Theory, and Network Locality. Then, in the second half of the class, we will look at applications of these theories and methods, by analyzing different kinds of networks, such as: the internet, the world wide web, social networking sites, and location-based social networks. We will also explore how civic engagement, security networks, and surveillance/power unfold in a world increasingly connected by big data and the internet of things.