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Today's Digital Media Examined in New Book

January 24, 2019

Professor of Sociology Deana Rohlinger has channeled her research interests and expertise in mass media and social movements into a new book on a contemporary phenomenon, “New Media and Society” (NYU Press, 2019).

Rohlinger, who has been researching digital media for years, provides a sociological approach to understanding how new media shape our interactions, our experiences and our institutions. Using case studies and in-class exercises, she explores how new media alter everything from our relationships with friends and family to our experiences in the workplace.

Each chapter takes up a different topic – our sense of self and our relationships, education, religion, law, work, and politics – and assesses how new media alter our worlds as well as our expectations and experiences in institutional settings.

Rohlinger uses different sociological theories to help readers think through the changes digital media have made in our lives. For example, a chapter on religion illustrates how new media have changed religious practice, religious community and how religious leaders try to connect with their parishioners. Using numerous examples, such as tweets from the Pope, the book challenges readers to work through the challenges new technology bring, such as religious extremism online.

Instead of arguing that these changes are “good” or “bad” for American society, the book uses sociological theory to challenge readers to think about the consequences of these changes, which typically have both positive and negative aspects.

"Most of the books on technology take hardline positions, arguing that new media are either good or bad for American society," Rohlinger said. "This approach is wrong headed because it pushes an agenda rather than encourages critical thought and discussion."

So when an editor from New York University Press asked her to write a book, she knew immediately she wanted to write something to help her students think through the various affects of new media on their lives.

The book has been hailed by reviewers and scholars as one of the most lively and accessible texts on digital media and social life and a valuable supplement for sociology courses.

"The Internet and social media have changed virtually everything about social life; Rohlinger's indispensable book explains how,” said David S. Meyer, author of “The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America.” “Rather than celebrating or lamenting the new world we live in, she shows what's different, how, and why it matters."

Rohlinger, who has been on the faculty of Florida State University since 2004, currently serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Community Outreach for the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. She is the author of “Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America” and co-editor of “Social Movements and Mass Media” and “Media, Movements, and Political Change.”

“New Media and Society” is available in hardcover or ebook at this link. Rohlinger also provides a wealth of online sources – articles, videos and movies - that readers can access by visiting her website (www.deanarohlinger.com) and navigating to the New Media and Society tab.