Sociological Approaches of Telecom Technologies


Contemporary works in the sociology of Technology offer numerous critics of the classical divide between technical and social features. It has been shown that the success or failure of technical innovations rests on their propensity to merge with various organizational and interactional features. This course aims at providing students with a precise understanding of different combinations between technologies and conversational features. Various case studies of  technologies in use will be examined, either in professional or ordinary or in mundane contexts.  Drawing from those studies, the course provide several methodological  discussions, with a strong focus on observation of social conduct in natural settings and the use of audio or video recordings in social science.

Teaching and Learning Methods : Lectures , written and oral presentations and discussions, readings

Course Policies : On-time attendance is mandatory


Hutchby, Ian (2001) Conversation and Technology: From the Telephone to the Internet, Cambridge: Polity.

Goffman, E. (1963). Behavior in public places. New York, NY: Free Press


There are no formal pre-requisites, though students with a background in Social Science Studies of Technology or in Conversation Analysis may find the course easier.

  • The ordinary making of social order. Presentation of some basic, fundamental features of the organization of social interaction
  • Texting or calling ? An invitation to a close examination of talking and writing practices on the phone
  • Video communication and face to face interaction. A discussion based on the history of video communication and how people talk through various screens
  • Chatbot communication : when the interaction itself becomes a model for a technology. What do we need to learn to interact with a Chatbot ?
  • Social interaction between vehicular units. On the organization of co-presence between  pedestrians, cars bicycles on curbs and roads.
  • Interacting through avatars : the organization of social interaction in virtual or mixed realities. 

Learning outcome:  

  • Understanding sociology as a rigorous methodic scientific approach based on a deep and detailed analysis of recordings of natural social conduct in ordinary settings
  • Being able to recognize how different types of communication technologies merge with various features of the organization of social interaction.
  • An appreciation for the importance of talk-in-interaction organization and its impact on mediated communication.

Nb hours : 21

Grading Policy : Oral and written presentations (60%), Short written questions and course attendance (40%)