Social Media Networking: Culture and Social Media Technologies
MCC-UE 1032
Monday/Wednesday 9:30-10:45am
Silver 401

Professor Portwood-Stacer
lps2 [at] nyu [dot] edu
Office: 239 Greene St., room 742
Office hours: M 11am-12pm; W 11am-12pm, 3:30pm-4:30pm; Thursdays by appointment

Teaching assistant:
Will Lockett
wjl285 [at] nyu [dot] edu

Course Description

This course will examine “social media” from a cultural perspective, with a focus on how media technologies figure in practices of everyday life and in the construction of social relationships and identities. We will work from an expansive definition of what constitutes “social media,” considering social network sites, smartphone apps, and online games, among other technologies. Questions we will consider include: What tools can we use to study the place of social media in culture? How can social media enable the formation of community? How is identity performed in/with social media? How are constructions of youth, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality mediated through social media technologies? Can social media technologies be a vehicle for political activism? What are the commercial uses of social media? What are the ethical issues associated with social media technologies? Is it possible to refuse social media? The course itself will involve communication in social media channels in addition to the traditional seminar format, thus we will be actively participating in the phenomena under study as we go.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and critique instances of technological determinism in popular discourse on social media technologies
  • Critically evaluate methodologies employed by studies of social media use
  • Describe social media practices among various social groups, differentiated by age, gender, race, and sexual identity, among others
  • Understand performances of identity in social media
  • Critically evaluate the potential for social media technologies to facilitate the formation of identities, communities, activist movements, and consumer markets
  • Articulate some of the ethical problems posed by emerging social media technologies
  • Apply each of the above skills and concepts to their own real-life observations of social media use
  • Communicate professionally and intellectually through social media platforms.