Mapping Sustainability Outcomes Across Connected Sites of Sociodigital Practice

Supervisor: Prof David M. Evans, University of Bristol. Second supervisor TBC, dependent on the approach and interests of the successful applicant

This studentship will be affiliated with the Sustainable Futures  (Bristol) SWDTP pathway, which is an Interdisciplinary pathway. Proposed Start Date October 2022. Please use this link to apply. NB Sustainable Futures PhD applications have to be made through the ‘Law (PhD)’ programme. The affiliation with the Law School is for admin purposes only.

This studentship focuses on the interconnections between different sites of sociodigital practice with a view to understanding how changes in one – for example, the home – have consequences elsewhere. Two issues are of key concern here: 1) societal and domestic divisions of labour (the ways in which digital innovations save, shift and re-allocate labour across sites of practice) and, 2)  how environmental impacts (understood principally in terms of resource  use and material throughput) change overall (e.g increase or decrease) and get redistributed (e.g. decreased material impacts in the home coming at the expense of increased energy use elsewhere).  

The precise design, approach, focus and orientation of the studentship will depend on the interests and experience of the applicant. We anticipate that the project will explore one or more empirical sites where digital technologies are reconfiguring what people do and/or how they do it (for example music streaming, working from home and caring for children, food shopping, socialising with friends).  

The emphasis will likely be on the various and perhaps contradictory claims that are made about the technologies and activities in question, mapping the various networks and relations (of humans and non-humans) that surround the focal site, and making sense of unintended consequences in terms of social and environmental inequalities.  In order to do this, a range of innovative qualitative and/or quantitative techniques will be required. These range from – but are not limited to – interpretative analysis of secondary materials gleaned from webscraping, through ethnographic engagement with sites of sociodigitial practice, to data on carbon emissions.

By bringing critical social science insight into closer dialogue with techniques for measuring and modelling environmental outcomes (e.g. Life Cycle Analysis) and societal impacts, the project will generate systemic insights into socio-digital transformations. We welcome applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds (e.g. Sociology, Human Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science), but applications must clearly demonstrate an explicitly interdisciplinary approach.

Career Development Support & Capacity building

• The student will be building interdisciplinarity capacity across the social sciences, environmental and engineering sciences, and contribute to the development of theoretical and methodological innovations in understandings of how sociodigital transformations relate to sustainable futures.

• The student will be supported in developing their research to include short placements with up to two of the Centre’s partners (e.g. BT and Defra) both for the purpose of data collection and to contribute to partner organization projects.

• Given the focal topic of this PhD, the student will have numerous opportunities to collaborate with different research teams, offering scope for data sharing and the development of co-authored publications.

Interested applicants are advised to contact David M Evans to discuss their application.

CenSoF project studentship applicants are also required to complete Annex A and emailed to by NOON 25 February 2022 and will be assessed using the criteria below: