I’ve been preoccupied by a phrase used by Anand Giridharadas in his most recent newsletter. As he puts it, some people are clearly “wanting to be left alone by history for a little while”. It points to the hyper-mobilisation which characterises contemporary society, as well as the exhaustion which can follow from this. As Trotsky […]

I’m digital sociologist based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, where I lead activities within the Culture, Politics and Global Justice Cluster and work as an embedded researcher within the Digital Learning Working Group. I direct the Post-Pandemic University project which is an international network comprising an online magazine, podcast hub […]

In this podcast, we talk to Phillip Brooker about Programming as Social Science. This approach to social inquiry involves using programming as a toolkit for social research, facilitating a style of inquiry above and beyond particular research methods. At a time when we’re dependent upon digital platforms for the core operations of the university, with […]

I thought this was a really interesting analysis which captures a split in my own musical tastes, as an interest in provocative music co-exists uneasily with a desire for collective experience through live music: Afro-American music is still cherished for its tragic yet affirmative sense of life. But it got shoved aside in the late […]

The first is The Public and Their Platforms co-authored with Lambros Fatsis. It’s a rethinking of the public sociology debate from the ground up, built around the critical realist sociology of platforms I’ve been developing over the last few years. This was so hard to finish but I’m really enthusiastic to see what people make […]

I thought this was great from Jean Burgess and Nacy Baym’s new book on Twitter. On pg 15 they take issue with the view of platforms as “a single ‘technology’—a static object that can be cast as a causal agent of societal change” arguing that “A closer look reveals a more emergent, dynamic truth, one […]

This section from Jean Burgess and Nacy Baym’s new book on Twitter caught my imagination as a research method. It reminded me of this recent paper in The Sociological Review which used Facebook activity logs as an elicitation method. On pg 26 Burgess and Baym describe how they showed participants their Twitter timelines in order […]

The Digital Condition is an open discussion group, organised by myself and Milan Stürmer, building on last year’s experimental project to inquire about the digitalised experience of the pandemic. For each meeting there will be a short article and a series of questions posed in advance, with the session being an open forum for raising […]

I thought you might be interested in this new podcast series I’ve started. It’s the audio diary of a social theorist during the pandemic, with self-consciously rough thoughts, speculations which haven’t quite reached the status of work in progress. Mostly short thoughts from me but I’ll have conversations with other people as well. It will involve meta-reflections […]

With the imminent demise of cinema, it seems like a good time to share this list of the films I’ve seen since July 2018: Hotel Artemis Generation Wealth Annihilation Under the Tree Ant Man and the Wasp The Escape The Heiresses Mad to be Normal Moneyball BlackKklansman Apostasy Cold War Searching American Animals A Simple […]

I turned off comments almost a year ago when I deleted my Twitter account, in pursuit of a less overwhelming digital existence. However I realised recently this has obliterated the sense I had of people actually reading this blog, as opposed to stumbling across it via the google footprint which has accrued over ten years […]

In his recent book of essays, Will Davies draws a comparison between securitisation and digital platforms. From pg 15-16 of This Is Not Normal: These are just some of the ways in which the credit derivative and the platform have transformed our political world in the twenty-first century. But there is more to it than […]

This extract from Danielle Allen’s superb Why Plato Wrote brought to life an issue which I’ve found myself returning to endlessly over the years. On pg 26 she talks about the Socratic disdain for writing and the capacity for teaching seen to inhere within them. When Socrates says that a written text can be no […]

From pg 136 of this new biography from Izabela Wagner: One of his most important tasks, which he performed frequently, was writing political texts with the objective of communist indoctrination. Producing such literature required good historical knowledge and a background in the Marxist literature, with mastery of ‘classics’ such as Lenin’s work. Long office hours […]

I thought this was a great account of Zygmunt Bauman’s style by David Beer in his newsletter. It’s the same quality which can be found in the trilogy of books by Giddens in the early 1990s which, along with Bauman’s oeuvre, facilitated my transition from philosophy to sociology. These works excited me because they provided […]