School of Social and Political Science

Dr Kate Orton-Johnson

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Kate Orton-Johnson's photo

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Street (Address)

18 Buccleuch Place

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I am a digital sociologist, Programme Co-Director of the MSc in Digital Society and co-convenor of the BSA Digital Sociology study group.

I am on the Editorial board of the Journal of Leisure Studies and am currently working on projects related to decentralised social media, digital detoxing and qualitative digital methods.


  • MSc in Sociological Research Methods (University of Surrey)
  • PhD (University of Surrey)

Recent and upcoming talks

Infodemics/Pandemics (29th Sep 2020) Panel speaker at Human and Societal Aspects of the Pandemic and Beyond Virtual conference

In {code, math, crypto} We Trust. Blockchain and Dreams of Perfect Programmability Rethinking Digital Myths Mediation, Narratives and Mythopoiesis in the Digital Age (January 30th – 31st 2020) Lugano Switzerland

Keynote speaker at “Smart Ideas and a New Concept of Economic Regeneration in Europe” (25th - 27th October 2018) Dubrovnik, Croatia

Panel speaker at Understanding the political economy of digital technology: A BSA Digital Sociology Study Group event hosted by the Web Science conference at (May 27th 2018) Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Haptic textiles in digital places Textile and Place (13th April 2018) Manchester School of Art

Detoxing from digital parenting: the precarious pressure of parenting apps. BSA annual conference (10th April 2018) Newcastle  BSA Press release about the paper

From digital parent to liberated parent? Exploring experiences of digitally mediated parenthood. Digitising Early Childhood Conference (11th – 15th September 2017) Perth, Australia

Recent Publications

Digitally mediated motherhood during COVID-19” In O'Reilly and Green (2021) Mothers, Mothering, and COVID-19: Dispatches from the Pandemic Demeter Press Bradford ON [Available here]

From digital parent to liberated parent? Exploring experiences of digitally mediated parenthood. In Green et. al. (Eds.) (2019) Digitising Early Childhood. Cambridge Scholars. [Available here]

Mummy Blogs and Representations of Motherhood: “Bad Mummies” and Their Readers  Social Media + Society (2017)  Volume: 3 issue: 2 [Available here]

Digitally mediated motherhood in Basden Arnold, L. (Eds) (2016) Taking the Village Online: Mothers, Motherhood, and Social Media Demeter Press Bradford ON [Available here]

Orton-Johnson, K., Prior, N. and Gregory, K. "Sociological Imagination: Digital Sociology and the Future of the Discipline." Special Section on Digital Sociology. The Sociological Review (2015)  

Rethinking Community? Facebook as a learning backchannel. In, Kent, M. & Leaver, T (Eds.) (2014) An Education in Facebook? HIgher Education and the Worlds Largest Social Network. Routledge, London [Available here]

DIY citizenship, critical making and community. In Ratto, M. & Boler, M. (Ed.) (2014) DIY citizenship MIT press, Massachusetts [Available here[Brian Loader's review of the book and of my chapter is available here]

Knit, purl, upload: digital mediations of craft Leisure Studies (2014) Volume 33Issue 3, [2012 online early edition available here] (Selected for the Editor’s Virtual Special Issue for Leisure Studies)

Digital Sociology: Critical Perspectives (2013) Palgrave Macmillan, London (edited with Prior, N.) [Available here]

Mediating the Digital (with Prior, N.) In Digital Sociology: Critical Perspectives  (2013) Palgrave Macmillan, London (edited with Prior, N.)

Social research methods and open educational resources [available here] (with Fairweather, I.) C-SAP (Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) Discovering Collections of Social Science Open Educational Resources. (2011)

Ethics in online research; evaluating the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics categorisation of risk. Sociological Research Online (2010) 14(4)

'I've stuck to the path I'm afraid' Exploring student non-use of blended learning. The British Journal of Educational Technology. (2009) Volume 40, Number 5, pp 837-847 (11)

'Give me a website and I'll wipe out a rainforest'. Student constructions of Technology and learning. The International Journal of Learning. (2008) Volume 14 Issue 12 pp 161-166

The Online Student: Lurking, Chatting, Flaming and Joking. Sociological Research Online (shortlisted for the 2008 Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence) (2007) 12(6)

'Using the Internet' (with Wakeford, N. and Jungnickel, K.) in Gilbert, N. (ed) (2006) From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills. Sage, London

Research interests

Research interests

Digital Culture, New Media, Digital Ethnography, Digital Leisure, Blogging and mediated parenthood, Social media, digital methodologies

My research interests relate to  intersections between technology, culture and everyday life:

  • Digital Sociology
  • Digtal culture
  • Internet research & Innovative/online methodologies
  • Ethics & practicalities of ICTs as research tools & research sites
  • Cultures of learning & e-learning
  • Online leisure and technological mediations of leisure practices
  • Digital parenting and Digitally mediated mothering
  • Intersections of 'real' & 'virtual'
  • Sociology of (online) humour

I am also a QSR trainer and consultant for NVivo CAQDAS software. 

Current projects

ARTICONF The smART socIal media eCOsytstem in a blockchaiN Federated environment (ARTICONF) project is a EU Horizon 2020 project focusing on decentralised social media services. ARTICONF is an interdiscipinary project studying use cases in crowd journalism, car sharing, video reviews and smart energy. Find out more about ARTICONF here and follow us on twitter here.

EU science media Hub:

 More democratic, transparent and reliable: the next generation social media

The Sociological context of digital technologies - Interview with Kate Orton-Johnson

Digital Detoxing

I am also working on a project studying the ways in which we "detox" ourselves from social media and the processes and meanings of disconnecting from digital culture.

Current PhD supervision

Idil Galip: The Memeing of Politics: A Genealogy of Online Political Humour

Sicong Zhao: Mobile social media’s function in popular music socialising activities

Yiru Zhao: Algorithms and Fandom Culture in China

Ari Stllman: The impact of online interaction (or use of digital technology) on offline attitudes and behavior

Completed PhD supervision

Kath Basset: Locative media in the social realm (2020) Esje Stapleton: Postructuralist and Extended Mind Philosophy (2018) Yi-Tao Lee: Blogging and Online fatherhood (2018) Aliette Lambert: Materiality and identity confusion:An inquiry into the lived consumption experience of female emerging adults (2016) Kirsti McGregor: Gender and web 2.0 (2013) Orlando VillalbosPolitics of Production of Culture: Developing Independent Games (2013) Götz Harald Frommholz :The Labour Market Perspectives of The Kitchen-Furniture Industry in East Westphalia (2012) Lucy Nicholas: Poststructuralist gender identity in Queer e-perzines and blogs, (2012) Sam FriedmanFestival culture and humour (2011) Madeline BreezeGender identities, sport and roller derby (2010) Liapeng Matsau: Higher Education in South Africa (2009)

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome enquiries about supervision of research in the areas of Digital Culture. I have expertise in culture / technology, Digital Leisure, Digitally mediated motherhood, Internet research and innovative methodological uses of web technologies, cultures of learning and e -learning. I have supervised projects relating to these research interests with students working on gaming, gender and web 2.0, humour, gender identities and roller derby, Queer e-perzines and blogs, Blogging fatherhood and HE in South Africa.

If you are interested in being supervised by Kate Orton-Johnson, please see the links below for more information:

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

Please email me to make an appointment.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Orton-Johnson K. Digitally mediated motherhood during the COVID-19 pandemic. In O'Reilly A, Green FJ, editors, Mothers, Mothering, and COVID-19: Dispatches from a Pandemic. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press. 2021. p. 291-302
Orton-Johnson K. From digital parent to liberated parent? Exploring experiences of digitally mediated parenthood. In Green L, Holloway D, Stevenson K, Jaunzems K, editors, Digitising Early Childhood. Cambridge Scholars Press. 2019. p. 354-365
Orton-Johnson K. Mummy blogs and representations of motherhood: “Bad mummies” and their readers. Social Media and Society. 2017 May 18;3(2):1-10.
Orton-Johnson K. Digitally mediated motherhood: Mommy blogs and reading mothering. In Lorin BA, BettyAnn MK, editors, Taking the Village Online: Mothers, Motherhood, and Social Media. Demeter Press. 2016
Lambert A, O'Donohoe S, Orton-Johnson K. A precarious subject? A critical examination of consumer subjectivity through the theory of Dufour. 2016. Paper presented at Consumer Culture Theory Conference 2016, Lille, France.
Orton-Johnson K. DIY citizenship, critical making and community. In Ratto M, Boler M, editors, DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. MIT Press. 2014. p. 141-155
Orton-Johnson K. Knit, Purl, Upload: New Technologies, Digital Mediations and the Experience of Leisure. Leisure Studies. 2014;33(3):305-321.
Orton-Johnson K. Rethinking community? Facebook as a learning backchannel. In Kent M, Leaver T, editors, An Education in Facebook?: Higher Education and the World's Largest Social Network. London: Routledge. 2014. p. 100-110
Orton-Johnson K. Ethics in online research; evaluating the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics categorisation of risk. Sociological Research Online. 2010 Nov;15)(4).
Orton-Johnson K. ‘I've Stuck to the Path I'm Afraid’: Exploring Student Non-Use of Blended Learning. British Journal of Educational Technology. 2009 Sep;40(5):837-847.
Orton-Johnson K. “Give me a Website and I’ll Wipe Out a Rainforest”: Student Constructions of Technology and Learning. The International Journal of Learning. 2008;14(12):161-166.