Table of contents(11 chapters)
Part I Field Analysis: Citams Past Chairs
This chapter takes an empirically centered look at Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) as a section, both as an intellectual enterprise and as an organizational one to make recommendations about how CITAMS could expand is intellectual vibrancy and its organizational viability and capacity in the future. The chapter consists of three sections. The first uses membership data provided by the American Sociological Association (ASA) to discuss the intellectual development of the section. Here, the authors add to well-worn histories of the section with more recent data on section memberships and shifts in co-memberships before and after the transition from Communication and Information Technologies section of the ASA (CITASA) to CITAMS. Next, the authors draw on the annual reports submitted by the section chair to the ASA to discuss the organizational trajectory of the section, assessing ups and downs in membership and finance. The authors use the annual report data to introduce several section needs and make specific recommendations on how the section might further formalize CITAMS’s governance and ensure its viability. Finally, the authors synthesize their analysis and discuss how strategic, intellectual and organizational planning for the future could help develop and secure the section’s vitality for decades to come.
A persistent theme throughout the history of the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Section of the American Sociological Association (CITAMS, formerly CITASA) has been that the work of section members has been underrepresented in sociology’s leading journals. This chapter empirically examines that claim, using data from the newly created American Sociological Review (ASR) Digital Archive, a collection of all manuscripts, published and unpublished, submitted to ASR between 1990 and 2010, along with all reviews of these manuscripts. Analyses in the chapter focus on a comparison of CITAMS and Methodology Section members’ participation in the ASR process as a manuscript author or reviewer. The findings of this chapter show that controlling for differences in the gender and age composition of the two sections, CITAMS members are significantly less likely than Methodology Section members to participate in the ASR publication process. This pattern is evident not only in the degree to which CITAMS members are asked to review papers, but also in the frequency with which they submit to ASR. Further analyses in the chapter look at membership in multiple sections and the possibilities for innovative collaboration. Increasing CITAMS involvement in the ASR publication process and amplifying the section’s voice in the discipline’s flagship journal may begin with more CITAMS members submitting manuscripts to ASR and collaborating with sociologists affiliated with other ASA sections.
The chapter will review significant changes in information technology (IT) affecting research over the 30-year history of Communication, Information Technology, and Media Sociology. It compares broad overviews of computers and the social sciences published shortly after the beginning of the section (1989 and 1990) with a contemporary overview of online research methods from 2017. It also draws on my own experiences from 1981 to the present as both an academic and a software entrepreneur. The author will discuss how changes in the section parallel developments in social science computing over this period, identifying some of the significant ways IT has transformed both the methods of research and the substantive foci of research. Finally, the author extrapolates into the future to consider how continuing changes in the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence, and natural language understanding may change how sociological research is conducted in the foreseeable future.
Part II Field Analysis: Relationships and Networks
The American Sociological Association Communication, Information Technology, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) section has long been concerned with the processes by which social connectedness and solidarity are created in a technology-rich, digitized society. In this chapter, the role of temporal symmetry in facilitating social synchronicity and digital connectedness is explored. Unity through simultaneity, which develops when spatially separated people focus on the same things at the same time, was conceptualized by sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel in a largely pre-digital age (1981) and coined as temporal symmetry. The concept has great relevance for the digital era and helps to explain why social media and digital technology have become so popular, consequential, and, indeed, indispensable in modern everyday life. The chapter explains how temporal symmetry is generated via digital technology in such activities as the viewing of live-streamed events, texting, and synchronous social media use. It examines how the temporal coordination of individuals’ streams of thought and internal rhythms can result in interpersonal similarity, like-mindedness, shared identities, and social synchronicity. Finally, it discusses the impact of these phenomena on digital connectedness, social life, and society in a digital age, contributing to the body of research CITAMS is committed to developing in helping the academy and the general public understand the impact of communication, information technology, and media on people’s techno-social lives.
In various settings (e.g., political elections, marketing campaigns), competing groups attempt to disseminate messages that promote different viewpoints. Moreover, these groups often differ substantially in the resources they have available for promotion, which may generate inequities in the reach of their messages. With a series of computer simulations, the author investigates the role that social network structure plays in perpetuating or mitigating the inequalities in reach brought about by asymmetric access to resources. The author models such asymmetric access by varying the number of "seeds” available to disseminators (i.e., places in the social network from where their messages begin spreading). The author finds that long ties – links that connect otherwise distant regions of a social network – help to decrease the disparities in dissemination brought about by asymmetric access to seeds. The author shows that this finding generalizes to different assumptions about the proportion of long ties present, the seeding asymmetry, and the rate that messages spread, and argues that information and communication technologies like Facebook and Twitter can foster dissemination equality by prioritizing interactions across long ties.
This chapter explores collective information processing among black-hat hackers during their crises events. The chapter presents a preliminary study on one of Tor-based darknet market forums, during the shutdowns of two cryptomarkets. Content and network analysis of forum conversations showed that black-hat users mostly engaged with rational information processing and were adept at reaching collective solutions by sharing security advices, new market information, and alternative routes for economic activities. At the same time, the study also found that anti-social and distrustful interactions were aggravated during the marketplace shutdowns. Communication network analysis showed that not all members were affected by the crisis events, alluding to a fragmented network structure of black-hat markets. The chapter concludes that, while darknet forums may constitute resilient, solution-oriented users, market crises potentially make the community vulnerable by engendering internal distrust.
Facebook “likes” are often used as a proxy of users’ attention and an affirmation of what is posted on Facebook (Gerodimos & Justinussen, 2015). To determine what factors predict “likes,” the authors analyzed Facebook posts made by the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump, the top three candidates from the 2016 US primary election. Several possible factors were considered, such as the types of posts, the use of pronouns and emotions, the inclusion of slogans and hashtags, references made to opponents, as well as candidate’s mentions on national television. The results of an ordinary least-squared regression analysis showed that the use of highly charged (positive or negative) emotions and personalized posts (first-person singular pronouns) increased “likes” across all three candidates’ Facebook pages, whereas visual posts (posts containing either videos or photos) and the use of past tenses were liked more often by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ followers than by Trump’s followers. Television mentions boosted likes on Clinton and Sanders’ posts but had a negative effect on Trump’s. The study contributes to the growing literature on digitally networked participation (Theocharis, 2015) and supports the emerging notion of the new “hybrid media” system (Chadwick, 2013) for political communication. The study also raises questions as to the relevance of platforms such as Facebook to deliberative democratic processes since Facebook users are not necessarily engaging with the content in an organic way, but instead might be guided to specific content by the Facebook timeline algorithm and targeted ads.
As a member of this section for ~18 years, I share my perspective on the future of our domain within sociology. I also reflect on my own path to finding the Communication and Information Technologies section of the American Sociological Association (CITASA) / Communication, Information, Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS), how my graduate training affected this, and where I am at this point in my career. I highlight areas for consideration as we strive to move CITAMS forward within sociology, focusing on our sociological presence, where our students find faculty positions, and how sociology values our domain.
- Publication date
- Book series
- Studies in Media and Communications
- Series copyright holder
- Emerald Publishing Limited
- Book series ISSN