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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Social Media & Society (CLOSED)

Connecting Sociology and Social Media

This introductory Sociology course is designed to expose high school students to sociology as a discipline and a way of thinking about their social world. Given the relevance of social media in teenagers’ social lives, this course will use social media as a topic to apply the concepts, ideas, and frameworks we discuss. We will explore questions such as:

  • What is Sociology? A discipline? A practice? Both?
  • How do sociological processes and relationships play out in digital spaces, such as social media?
  • How can we understand the complexity of sociological concepts such as race, gender, class, and sexuality?
  • How do sociologists conduct research for the questions they hope to answer?
  • What are the classical and contemporary sociological theories we can apply to our everyday lives and our broader society?

Each day we will engage in interactive lectures and collective discussions. Students will develop their own “sociological imagination”, a way of reflecting on their experience that places them into a broader historical and social context. As we cover the concepts, frameworks, and theories of a particular day, students will be asked to position themselves and their experiences in reference to them. 

Students will also heavily engage in collective discussions to share ideas, perspectives, questions, and critiques on the material. We all are coming into this class with different histories, lived experiences, and ways of thinking. Our goal is to learn from one another to create an intellectual community together where we can grow as members of society and academics.

The course will culminate in a social media reflection project that asks students to apply their knowledge about social processes on a more personal scale. Students will choose one social media site to critically reflect on a) how they “perform” on the site and for what purpose, b) how their external lives influence the way they use or navigate this site, c) how they “consume” or “produce” culture. 

This course is offered at the UMass Amherst campus as a residential program. Local students may apply to attend as a commuter.