Global Social Media Impact Study

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Seminar: Circles and Strangers: the challenge of contextualising Chinese social media use

Tom McDonald, from the Global Social Media Impact Study discusses the findings of his research. More...

Starts: Oct 20, 2015 1:00:00 PM

Project blog

Surveying Social Relationships

Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:54:21 +0000

One of the chapters of our forthcoming book How the World Changed Social Media, which will be published as an Open Access book by UCL Press in February 2016, describes a survey consisting of 43 questions we asked 1199 respondents (mainly around 100 per fieldsite). Just occasionally this survey produced results which were commensurate with […]


Aim and Objectives

Trini woman using mobile phone at carnival

Aim: The Global Social Media Impact Study aims to study and report on the use and consequences of social media for peoples all around the world.


  • To carry out nine ethnographic studies, each of 15 months, in order to investigate how people actually use social media today.
  • To explore the impact of social media on people’s relationships, especially the family, gender, intimate relationships and friendships.
  • To examine how social media has impacted upon key issues such as politics and privacy.
  • To explore the way social media has been used within institutions such as education, commerce, the state and religion.
  • To provide insights on what an in-depth ethnographic study of social media might bring to social science more generally. 
  • To consider the current state of the 'digital divide' and how social media relates to the problems of low income populations and their welfare.
  • To examine other possible welfare benefits, which in practice have ranged from the use of social media by the hospice movement in the UK to its impact on the restrictions traditionally experienced by women in certain societies.
  • Our final declared focus is on polymedia, recognising that no particular media can be understood today outside of the context of all the other media and forms of communication including face-to-face which that same person will make use of.  

In a similar vein, rather than focusing solely on any one of the topics listed above, we use our ethnography to consider the entirety of research participants’ social lives.

European Research CouncilEuropean UnionUCL Department of Anthropology

Grant number: ERC Project 2011-AdG-295486 SocNet
Project title: Social Network Sites and Social Science