This funding opportunity is part of the ESRC’s ‘Living with Technology’ strategic priority from the 2019 ESRC Delivery Plan. This investment is shaped by a comprehensive period of scoping around the theme of a digital society. ESRC will fund one Network Plus.
A Network Plus is a strategic investment that aims to bring together new research communities and identifies, prioritises and develops future research challenges. To build sustained engagement and collaboration, it provides leadership across disciplines and sectors and delivers different activities, such as:
- funding opportunities.
The Digital Society Network Plus should develop a research agenda that explores people’s relationships with technology and how technologies influence people’s relationships (people as individuals and as part of broader society). It should enable a step-change in how social scientists investigate the interactions between society and digital technologies through:
- generating new insights on the relationships between people and technologies
- building interdisciplinary capability in this emerging research area, leveraging existing and establishing new partnerships
- enabling a coherent and connected landscape for this research across disciplines, identifying needs through sustained engagement with policymakers, the private and third sectors, international peers, as well as the wider research community.
The successful proposal should be social science-led, with at least 50% of the programme falling within ESRC’s remit. To enable approaches to the challenge of understanding our relationships with technology, it should also look widely across disciplines, drawing on expertise from fields such as:
- computer science
- software engineering
- mathematical sciences
- the humanities.
In scoping this work ESRC has identified two sub-themes that could be explored by the Network Plus.
This would explore how people interact with digitally connected technologies, the consequential impact of the choices they make on individual and collective experiences, and how individuals can better understand choices and impacts.
Power and behaviour
This seeks to understand the influence services and devices have over people and the social trends that result. It considers the changing power relations between technology providers of:
- devices and services
- civil society
- different economic and industrial sectors.
The above is not exhaustive. ESRC welcomes proposals for other potential themes provided they complement and do not duplicate current investments.