Users in Context
This course will provide students with theoretical and analytical foundations that will allow them to analyze and understand how individuals and groups make use of contemporary digital technology in relation to their individual, organizational, or social contexts. Students will gain hands-on experience by analyzing specific use contexts and practices by working on concrete case studies.
During the course, students will be introduced to a broad understanding of the concept of context, as well as the methodological and analytical tools that will help to understand the everyday social and cultural contexts that affect how and whether users use digital products. During the course, students will be able to analyze and reflect on the personal, cultural and institutional forces that today influence the development and use of digital services and media products. This will be done through an introduction to, among other things, theories of why people use (digital) media, online cultural studies, current sociological theory with a focus on group formation and group identity, critical-oriented platform theory, as well as classical ethnography and media ethnography as methodological orientation. By working with exemplary and concrete cases, students will gain an initial understanding of how an analysis of use contexts can help improve existing products or make it possible to reach new user groups.
Some examples of topics the course will cover (but are not limited to):
- the individual's motivation for using digital media products and services
- the influence of technology on one's self-understanding (tracking and "the quantified self")
- domestication of technologies
- power, agency and technology - how institutions and businesses try to influence our technology use
- how users try to control their use of technology through disconnecting and disconnecting strategies
- media-specific subcultures
- discussing the meaning of context in specific institutional contexts, such as the use of digital news services, the use of apps at cultural institutions and the use of digital technologies among children and young people in learning contexts
- global and cultural citizenship and counter-publicity as a context for activist use of network technologies
- the study of user behavior across media platforms
- digital ethnography, netnography and media go-along as methods
This course is part of the first semester of the Master's program in Digital Design and Interactive Technologies.
Intended learning outcomes
After the course, the student should be able to:
- relate the use of digital media platforms and services to the institutional, cultural, social and design contexts relevant to such use.
- discuss different theoretical perspectives on social services and user cultures
- explain relevant methodological approaches to the study of users in context, including ethical considerations
- independently select the most relevant theories and methods for use in their own case study, as well as independently select and present an original research question based on a joint research design
- systematically analyze their own findings empirically using the concepts, theories and methods they have acquired in the course
Ordinary examExam type:
C: Submission of written work, External (7-point scale)
C11: Submission of written work