I’m hosting an online webinar for the British Sociological Association Yorkshire Medical Sociology Group at 13:30 on 18th January 20201.

This will be a talk followed by a discussion led by Catherine Price based on her paper ‘Covid-19: When Species and Data Meet’ published earlier this year in Postdigital Science and Education.

The published paper is a very interesting analysis of the relations between humans, viruses and data which have been created in the current pandemic and what the consequences of this are. We have been forced to (at least temporarily) live with a new virus and take account of how it lives. But this relationship has emerged alongside, and been mediated by, digital data. Specifically, Catherine discusses the controversial, and now ubiquitous, contact tracing apps which have formed a significant part of our collective response to the virus. Catherine’s paper was published in August 2020 but the pace of development of all of the topics she touches on means that things have changed dramatically since then. So this event will be an opportunity to not only hear about her original analysis but also get her take on more recent developments and hopefully start a wider conversation .

The event will be on Zoom and you can register (free) at the BSA website.


The abstract for the event is below.

  • Abstract:  This paper explores how species meet, in particular humans and the Covid-19 virus. It also draws attention to the digital world through the lens of contact-tracing apps. Here, I examine human-virus-data relations, with humans, Covid-19, and data meeting and intra-acting. This paper examines what has led us to this situation with Covid-19 and the role data is currently playing.

The paper offers an answer to two questions. How do humans, Covid-19, and Covid-19 contact-tracing apps meet and intra-act? What are the social justice issues and problems associated with contact-tracing apps? This paper examines how species meet and intra-act, as well as how the Anthropocene has contributed to the current situation. The paper also discusses contact-tracing apps and what these apps mean for society.

Finally, the paper shows how entanglements are not only constrained to those which are multispecies but also stretch out to the digital. These postdigital hybrid assemblages enable the coming together of humans, biological-more-than-human-worlds, and the digital. Postdigital hybrid assemblages enable us to push beyond boundaries, helping us understand Covid-19 and its impacts on society.

Hopefully, this discussion about the postdigital hybrid assemblage will contribute to discussions in the future, and long after Covid-19, about how we are living our lives, and who and what we are living our lives with.