Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fall Grad Seminar on Social Impacts/Social Shaping of Information and Communications Technologies

by Lyn

LIS 910:  Seminar on Social Informatics  (official title: Research Design and Methodology for Information Studies)

Fall 2015

Instructor: Professor K.R. Eschenfelder

Thursdays 1:30-4:00 PM Location: 4246 H.C. White Hall

4228 H.C. White Hall


This course prepares advanced graduate students to better conceptualize the ways that information systems and information and communication technologies (ICTs) interact with society.   “Social informatics” can be defined as research that examines the design, uses and consequences of information systems in ways that robustly account for their cultural and institutional contexts.   In social informatics, “social factors” are a focus of research rather than variables to be controlled.   But that raises the question: What the counts as a “social factor” in relation to ICT use?  Isn’t it everything?  We will become numerous theoretical frameworks from across information science, communications, science and technology studies and others that provide frameworks for robust inclusion of social factors in ICT related research.  Since information systems pre-date ICTs, we cross the line between digital and non-digital information systems numerous times.  Because information systems are everywhere in both formal and informal institutional contexts, the course will not focus on any particular ICT or domain of use. The second goal of the course is for students increase their understanding of different definitions and uses of theory within research and scholarship, different ways of evaluating the “goodness” of theory, and different ways of classifying or distinguishing theories (e.g., grand theories vs. middle level theories).



Situated learning in online communities of practice

User shaping of ICT/cultural shaping

Social impacts of ICT at local and global scales

Institutional theories, isomorphism

History of information technologies

Information Infrastructure studies



Example Readings:

Oudshoorn, N.; Pinch, T. How users matter: The co-construction of users and technologies.

Bijker, W. (1995) Of Bicycles, Bakelites and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change. MIT Press. 0262522276

Gillespie, T.; Boczkowski, P.J.; Foot K.A. (2014) Media Technologies Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society

Nardi, B. Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press.

Lave, J. (1991). Situated learning in communities of practice. In Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition. Eds., L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine & S. D. Teasley. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association: Chp. 4, pp. 63-82.