Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

Free Online course
Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media
15 Jan 2018

Discover the varying uses of social media around the world and its consequences for politics, relationships and everyday life.

This free online course is based on the work of nine anthropologists who each spent 15 months in fieldsites in Brazil, Chile, industrial and rural China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey.

What are the consequences of social media?
The course offers a new definition of social media which concentrates on the content posted, not just the capabilities of platforms. It examines the increasing importance of images in communication and the reasons why people post memes, selfies and photographs.

Over five weeks you will explore the impact of social media on a wide range of topics including politics, education, gender, commerce, privacy and equality. You will come to understand how the consequences of social media vary from region to region.

Take a comparative and anthropological approach to social media

The course will be taught by the same nine anthropologists who carried out the original fieldwork and who are publishing eleven books based on this research.

You will meet many of our informants through our films, engage with our team through video discussions and lectures, and encounter our ideas through animations, infographics and text.

Adopting an anthropological and comparative approach, we strive to understand not only how social media has changed the world, but how the world has changed social media.

What topics will you cover?

  1. What is social media and how should we define it?
  2. Academic approaches to social media and an introduction to anthropology.
  3. The rise of images in communication.
  4. The impact of social media on gender and politics.
  5. The impact of social media on education, commerce and privacy.
  6. The impact of social media on inequality.

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...
Apply critical thinking to a range of cross-cultural qualitative and quantitative evidence.
Compare one's own perspective on social media to those from other cultural backgrounds.
Asses social media from an anthropological perspective and conduct mini research projects.

Who is the course for?
The only requirement is an interest in social media and people.

Who will you learn with?
Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at University College London. He developed the Digital Anthropology programme at UCL. @DannyAnth

Elisabetta Costa is a postdoctoral research fellow at the British Institute at Ankara. She is an anthropologist specialised in the study of media and digital media in Turkey and the Middle-East.

Jolynna Sinanan, Vice Chancellor's Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the School of Media and Communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

Juliano Spyer, i am currently finishing my phd in anthropology, studying social media.

 Laura Haapio-Kirk, I am a PhD student at UCL Anthropology studying smartphones and ageing in Japan, and a public engagement fellow on the Why We Post project.

Nell Haynes, I am a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology

Razvan Nicolescu, I am an Honorary Research Associate at the Department of Anthropology, UCL.

Shriram Venkatraman, PhD scholar at the Dept. of Anthropology, University College London. Anthropologist/Statistician. Research Interests: Technologies in Workplace, Org Culture & Entrepreneurship.

Tom McDonald, I'm an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. Member of the UCL Why We Post team.

Xinyuan Wang, PhD candidate at the Dept. of Anthropology at UCL. An artist in Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy  

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Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media
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