Short courses


Anthropology of Social Media: Why We Post

  • 3 hours per week (15 hours in total)
  • 5 weeks


This free online five-week course asks 'What are the consequences of social media?' by taking a comparative and anthropological approach to social media use around the world.

From factory workers in China, to IT professionals in India, to school children in England, you'll learn about the vast spectrum of experiences of social media for people in all walks of life.

The course is based on the work of nine anthropologists who each spent 15 months in fieldsites in Brazil, Chile, industrial and rural China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey.

This is a FutureLearn MOOC (massive open online course), created in partnership with UCL. The course is also available on UCL Extend in English and its translated forms (Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and Turkish).

Course content

The course offers a new definition of social media which concentrates on the content posted, not just the capabilities of platforms.

You'll examine the increasing importance of images in communication and the reasons why people post memes, selfies and photographs.

Over five weeks you'll explore the impact of social media on a wide range of areas including:

  • politics
  • education
  • gender
  • commerce
  • privacy and equality

You'll come to understand how the consequences of social media vary from region to region.

Watch the course trailer on YouTube

Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6n2qxs63Ao

Teaching and structure

The course will be taught online by the nine anthropologists who carried out the original fieldwork and who are publishing eleven books based on this research.

You'll meet many of the informants through the films, engage with the team through video discussions and lectures, and encounter their ideas through animations, infographics and text.

The team have adopted an anthropological and comparative approach to social media. Their aim is to understand not only how social media has changed the world, but how the world has changed social media.

Translations of the course are available in Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and Turkish on UCL Extend.

More about the team's research

To learn more about their research, see the team's 'Why We Post' website or read their Global Social Media Impact Study blog. If you have a question about the project, email whywepost@ucl.ac.uk

Course information last modified: 30 Nov 2022, 15:59