Online tribes and digital authority: What can social theory bring to digital archaeology?

Lorna-Jane Richardson, Simon Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


From early discussions of the disruptive potential of computer technologies for archaeological applications, to the present era of digital archaeology as the technical underpinning of modern archaeological practice, we have continued to debate the potential impacts of digital communication and digital capture and storage on our knowledge, profession and communications. The increased use of digital tools and methods for archaeological research and dissemination, as well as what Roosevelt (2015) has referred to as the shift to the digital paradigm within archaeological practice, leads us to suggest that the impact of this paradigm shift requires careful and critical examination. This article will examine the edges of the disciplines of archaeology and sociology, where we aim to advance our understanding of the relationship between digital technologies and archaeological knowledge from a uniquely social perspective, using the theoretical approaches of both classic and modern sociologists. The application of this lens of sociology to digital archaeology equips us to understand how archaeology and archaeological practice is situated in a social world, which is especially relevant in the Global West, where digital technology is ubiquitous. Through a critical consideration of the complexity of use of digital technologies within digital archaeology, we can begin to shift our focus away from the character and method of tools and workflow, to the background of intellectual power and influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalOpen Archaeology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeological practice
  • Digital archaeology
  • Social media
  • Sociology
  • Theory

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