School of Social and Political Science

Dr Kate Orton-Johnson

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in Sociology / Director of Education Edinburgh Futures Institute

Kate Orton Johnson headshot

Room number


Street (Address)

22a Buccleuch Place

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

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

  • Digital Sociology
  • Digital 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 currently Director of Education at the Edinburgh Futures Institute and co-convenor of the BSA Digital Sociology study group. I sit on the Editorial board of the Journal of Leisure Studies.

I am currently working on projects related to decentralised social media, digital detoxing and qualitative digital methods.

Research projects 

ARTICONF The smART socIal media eCOsytstem in a blockchaiN Federated environment (ARTICONF) project is a 3 years EU Horizon 2020 project (completed in June 2022) 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

Yiru Zhao: Algorithms and Fandom Culture in China

Yixuan Li: Human, technology and animal relations

Cam Starbuck: Exploring the Interplay between Education and Technology in the Classroom

Completed PhD supervision

Sicong Zhao: Mobile social media’s function in popular music socialising activities (2023) Idil Galip: The Memeing of Politics: A Genealogy of Online Political Humour (2022) 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:




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

Recent and upcoming talks

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

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

Blockchain Imaginaries and their Metaphors: Organising principles in decentralised digital technologies (2022) with Jacobetty, P. Social Epistemology [Available here]

Camping at home: escapism, self-care, and social bonding during the COVID-19 pandemic (2022) with Morris, N. Annals of Leisure Research [Available here]

Trust and Collaboration in Social Media Using Relevant Visual Analytics. (2022) with A. Karadimce, N. Paunkoska, R. Prodan, N.Saurabh, K. Orton-Johnson, P. Jacobetty, A. Chakravorty, A. Palanisamy, Z. Zhao, D. Sarlos. Open Book Publishers.

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]

ARTICONF: Towards a Smart Social Media Ecosystem in a Blockchain Federated Environment.(2019) with R. Prodan, N. Saurabh, Z. Zhao, K. Orton-Johnson, A. Chakravorty, A. Karadimce, A. Ulisses-Par 2019: Parallel Processing Workshops.

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]

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

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

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

Please email me to make an appointment.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Jacobetty P, Orton-Johnson K. Blockchain imaginaries and their metaphors: Organising principles in decentralised digital technologies. Social Epistemology. 2022 Jun 26. Epub 2022 Jun 26. doi: 10.1080/02691728.2022.2086086
Morris N, Orton-Johnson K. Camping at home: escapism, self-care, and social bonding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Annals of Leisure Research. 2022 Jun 16. Epub 2022 Jun 16. doi: 10.1080/11745398.2022.2082992
Karadimce A, Paunkoska N, Prodan R, Saurabh N, Orton-Johnson K, Jacobetty P et al. Trust and collaboration in social media using relevant visual analytics. In TBC. Open Book Publishers. 2022
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 doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1h45mcj.26
Prodan R, Saurabh N, Zhao Z, Orton-Johnson K, Chakravorty A, Karadimce A et al. ARTICONF: Towards a smart social media ecosystem in a blockchain federated environment. In Schwardmann U, Boehme C, B. Heras D, Cardellini V, Jeannot E, Salis A, Schifanella C, Manumachu RR, Schwamborn D, Ricci L, Sangyoon O, Gruber T, Antonelli L, Scott SL, editors, Euro-Par 2019: Parallel Processing Workshops - International Workshops, Revised Selected Papers. Springer-Verlag. 2020. p. 417-428. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)). doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-48340-1_32
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 + Society (SM+S). 2017 May 18;3(2):1-10. doi: 10.1177/2056305117707186
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. Epub 2012 Sept 25. doi: 10.1080/02614367.2012.723730
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, (ed.), Prior N, (ed.). Digital sociology: Critical perspectives. 1st ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 249 p. doi: 10.1057/9781137297792
Prior N, Orton-Johnson K. Afterword: Mediating the digital. In Orton-Johnson K, Prior N, editors, Digital Sociology: Critical Perspectives. 1st ed. Palgrave Macmillan. 2013. p. 186-193 doi: 10.1057/9781137297792_13
Orton-Johnson K, Prior N. Introduction. In Orton-Johnson K, Prior N, editors, Digital Sociology: Critical Perspectives. 1st ed. Palgrave Macmillan. 2013. p. 1-9 doi: 10.1057/9781137297792_1
Orton-Johnson K. Ethics in online research; evaluating the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics categorisation of risk. Sociological Research Online. 2010 Nov;15)(4). doi: 10.5153/sro.2261
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 Sept;40(5):837-847. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00860.x
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.
Orton-Johnson K. The online student: Lurking, chatting, flaming and joking. Sociological Research Online . 2007 Dec 30;12(6):21-31. doi: 10.5153/sro.1615