Universität Wien

240518 SE Digital Technologies as Material Culture (P4) (2020S)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 05.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 19.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 26.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 02.04. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 23.04. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 30.04. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 07.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 14.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 28.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 04.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 18.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 25.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course gives an overview about material culture as a conceptual and practical approach to understand digital technologies. In doing so, it focuses on the everyday incorporation and utilization of digital technologies.

Mobile networked digital media technologies, such as smart phones, as well as social media platforms and services, such as Facebook or Instagram, have become important (visual) communication and (re)presentation tools. For social and cultural anthropology it is of particular interest how these digital devices and technologies are integrated and embedded into everyday life, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. This course focuses in particular on the material aspects of digital technologies and how they are utilized on a day-to-day basis. Questions about the relevance of a material culture approach for (the understanding of) technology appropriation on a theoretical and practical level as well as questions about (culturally) different usage practices are discussed. How does the understanding and conceptualization of digital technology as material culture contribute to the exploration and analyses of contemporary and emerging sociocultural practices and processes in increasingly digital societies?
By working on different online case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in a digital context.

Assessment and permitted materials

~ essay or blog post
~ presentation
~ active participation during the course

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Course assessment comprises an essay or a blog post at the end of the semester (50%), the presentation of research projects (25%) and the active participation during the course by reading and discussing selected literature (25%). All assignments have to be completed to successfully pass the course. Course attendance is mandatory.

The lecturer can invite students to a grade-relevant discussion about partial achievements. Partial achievements that are obtained by fraud or plagiarized result in the non-evaluation of the course (entry 'X' in certificate). From winter term 2019/20 the plagiarism software 'Turnitin' will be used for courses with continuous assessment.

Examination topics

Reading list

Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C. & T.L. Taylor. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Chapter “Research design and preparation”).

Eglash, R. (2006). Technology as material culture. In C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Küchler, M. Rowlands & P. Spyer (Eds.), Handbook of material culture (pp. 329240). London: Sage.

Favero, P. (2018). The present image: Visible stories in a digital habitat. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (Chapter "Material images").

Miller, D., & Horst, H. (2012). The digital and the human: A prospectus for digital anthropology. In H. Horst & D. Miller (Eds.), Digital anthropology (pp. 3-35). London: Berg.

Miller, D., et al. (2016). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/83038. (Chapters "What is social media?" & "The future").

Pfaffenberger, B. (1992). Social anthropology of technology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21, 491-516. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002423

Pink, et al. (2016). Digital ethnography: Principles and practice. London: Sage. (Chapter "Introduction").

Postill, J. (2017). Remote ethnography: Studying culture from afar. In L. Hjorth, H. Horst, A. Galloway & G. Bell (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to digital ethnography (pp. 61-69). New York: Routledge.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:21