Global Social Media Impact Study

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Why popular anthropology?

Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:43:45 +0000

  The core mission of anthropology is the understanding of human behaviour in a world full of cultural and historical diversity. The anthropological commitment to this immense plurality of human and social experiences constitutes a great appreciation and valorisation of diversity. Yet, different cultures, identities and behaviours are organised around hierarchies, and the institutions that […]


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