DS0806 -

Digital Ties and (mobile) Information and Communication Technologies – LiSTIC

Digital Ties and (mobile) Information and Communication Technologies

As social media are mainly consulted on mobile phones, their specificities, and those of mobile applications, should be considered in order to understand the effects of these services on sociabilities, social networks and our democracy. LisTIC explores these nomadic forms of participation, developed via the uses of social media apps, by using a mixed method research protocol, combining qualitative methods with one's specific to digital humanities.

To analyse the communicational and relational practices of mobile phones by using digital methods.

The LisTIC project proposes to develop methods within the field of digital humanities to study how smartphones, and their range of applications, emphasize the contemporary inclination of a fragmented communication and network-based relational practices as these changes occur parallel to an increasing number of technological devices (computers, phones, etc.), functionalities (calls, text messages) and applications such as social media websites (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and platforms of micro-blogging (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). It is essential to measure the effects of the ongoing phenomenon of fragmentation of communication practices to understand its influence on our network-based societies as well as to capture the complexity of the social links and how they structure themselves around various mediations and an increasing number of ICT activities. The development of these methods is decisive for the social sciences and humanities, as these disciplines are are struggling to analyse the contemporary uses of smartphones and provide a full picture of digital sociabilities. <br />LisTIC pursues this goal by nourishing a concerned sociological ambition to articulate, on a methodological level, a data set typical of digital humanities with more conventional sociological methods (observation, interviews, surveys). This scientific achievement, notably with the help of qualitative methods, is considerable, as only a fragmented vision of digital sociabilities can be obtained if one does not consider how practices and uses intertwine. Digital humanities must be developed so that the various studies of our network-based societies converge, in such a manner that cumulativity of knowledge is achieved and an intellectual base - which would be both reflexive and evolutive, which would articulate the practices' historicity with their future - continues to shape.

LisTIC is structured around several research themes and various methodological devices :

1. The analysis of the structuration of nomadic relational practices': this research articulates quantitative and qualitative investigations. The first type of investigation was online surveys. They allowed us to collect relational data from a sample (n = 133) of young adults (from 18 to 30 years old) to measure the effects of mobile phones and social media websites on the size and composition of personal networks. In parallel, a qualitative study was completed to first analyze patterns of uses of social media mobile apps, in particular Facebook, and then determine how they create social isolation in public spaces.

2. The analysis of nomadic forms of e-participation in France and Brazil: this theme identifies politicised uses of social media, notably Facebook and Twitter uses. It is structured around two researches, one completed in France during the French presidential election, and the other carried out in Brazil and dealing with political citizen-based participation, notably in social movements. They are built around the same research protocol, articulating qualitative (observation, interviews) and computational (Facebook and Twitter data collection) methods, developed for an analysis of the politicised uses of these websites and of the peculiarities of participation done from mobile phones. Data collection for Facebook pages was done with the Netvizz software (Rieder, 2013), and with the DMI-TCAT software for Twitter. Textual data were analyzed with a software called Iramuteq.

3. The analysis of smartphones' and social media apps' uses at work: this research is based on qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (quantified observations) methods, to measure ICT's uses and their positions in professionals environments.

LisTIC shows that (mobile) uses of social media websites encourage social connectedness (1), social homophily (2), but also social segregation (3):

1. With the help of a smartphone app, an investigation of the LisTIC project analyses uses patterns of these devices and social media apps. This study reveals how mobile phone uses are organised around notification tools from text messages and social media apps. These triggers lead users to situate these social solicitations, displayed on the screens, at the center of their uses, and to develop relational practices that we consider «hyper-connected«.

2. The quantitative analysis of the social network structure of young French (18-30 years old) between 2001 and 2017 shows that it has not changed much over time. Social media did not overturn the size and composition of social networks. However, they strengthen a social homophily phenomenon and a social segregation between social classes: young French communicate more and more with individuals who have the same sociodemographic features, in particular in terms of education level.

3. The analysis of several sympathizer networks of the main candidates of the 2017 presidential election, from Facebook pages (n = 250) shows that Facebook is more invested by the ones who have the less publicised opinions and political projects. This phenomenon generates a perverse effect within extreme right-wing groups. The detailed study of the information sources shared by different political communities on Facebook points out that Front National's sympathizers, unlike other political groups, tend to form ideological enclaves. Within these enclaves, users distribute a greater number of non-verified information, even false information, likely to bear radical social criticism, or even racialise topics and debates.

The investigations carried out within the ListTIC project supposes different perspectives of analysis:

1. The analysis of nomadic relational practices' structuration: the surveys will allow to document the effects of mobile phones and social media apps on the composition of young adults' social networks. These massive amounts and high quality datasets will be explored following other perspectives: the effects of the place of residence (downtown, suburbs) on the publicised relational practices; the morphology of the correspondents cercles with whom young people discuss politics, etc. These datasets will also be explored for internationals comparisons, especially via a collaboration with UC Berkeley's researchers.

2. The analysis of nomadic forms of e-participation in France and Bresil: the richness of both of these datasets allows us to explore them according to yet other perspectives: analyse the specificity of nomadic social media app uses in activists' practices, complete a lexical analysis of the debates by identifying the singularity of the «mobile« participations, analyse the specificities of nomad publications (sources, formats of publications, etc.)
The complexity of the database collected from Brazilians activists groups on Facebook (n = 600), between 2013 and end of 2017, requires sturdy and stable collaborations. The submission of a PICS project with the CNRS is being considered to help LisTIC researchers finance this research perspective.

3. The analysis of smartphones and social media mobile apps uses at work: the proliferation of communication technology at work and the pervasiveness of their solicitations (ringtones, vibrations, notifications) bring ergonomists and designers to try to optimise ICT's integration in professional environments. LisTIC researchers collaborate with designers around these stakes.

Canu R., Datchary C., Chaulet J., Figeac J. (2018), « Critiques du numérique «, L'harmattan, 230 p.

Ratinaud P., Smyrnaios N., Figeac J., Cabanac G., (à paraître en 2019), « L’ancrage idéologique des discours sur Twitter pendant la campagne présidentielle française de 2017 », revue Réseaux.
Figeac J, Cabanac, Ratinaud, Smyrnaios (2ème révision), Facebook favorise-t-il la polarisation ide´ologique des opinions ? Revue Sociologie.
Figeac J., Chaulet J. (2018), Video-ethnography of Social Media Apps’ connection cues in public settings. In Mobile, Media & Communication, 6.3, p. 407 – 427.
Licoppe, C., Figeac, J. (2018). Gaze Patterns and the Temporal Organization of Multiple Activities in Mobile Smartphone Uses. Human-Computer Interaction, 335-6, p. 311-334.
O. Fraisier, G. Cabanac, et al.. Stance Classification through Proximity-based Community Detection. In HT 2018, Baltimore, juillet 2018.
O. Fraisier, G. Cabanac, et al. #Élysée2017fr: The French Presidential Campaign on Twitter. In ICWSM 2018, Stanford, California, juin 2018.
Peralva, A., Figeac, J., Paton, N. (2017). Resta algo de 2013?, Liinc em Revista, V.13, N°2, p. 381- 400.
O. Fraisier, G. Cabanac, Y. Pitarch, R. Besancon, M.Boughanem. Uncovering Like-minded Political Communities on Twitter (short paper). In ICTIR 2017, Amsterdam, october 2017.
T. Thonet, G. Cabanac, M.Boughanem, & K. Pinel-Sauvagnat (2017). Users Are Known by the Company They Keep: Topic Models for Viewpoint Discovery in Social Networks. In CIKIM 2017, Singapore, November 2017.

Book chapters
Figeac J., Chaulet J. (sous presse), Vers des vidéo-ethnographies des usages de la téléphonie mobile, dans Millette et al., « Méthodes de recherche en contexte numérique «, Presses de l'Université du Québec.
Paton, N., Figeac J. (2018), « Critiques, contre-critiques et trolls : la sce´narisation des conflits sociaux en ligne lors des e´ve´nements tragiques «, dans Canu et al., « Critiques du numérique «, L'harmattan.

According to the Pew Research Center, social networking sites perform an essential function in media practices of Americans under 30 years of age, who now prefer their smartphones to other devices to conduct various tasks linked to digital sociability. These mobile technologies increase fragmentation of contemporary communicative and relational practices related to a growing number of communication devices. Measuring the effects of the continued fragmentation of relational exchanges and their deployment via various communication devices is crucial in understanding their influence on the social structure of networked societies. This scientific goal is particularly important for the social sciences because their methods are increasingly inadequate to analyze the complexity of digital sociability.

The LisTIC project proposes to develop methodologies of digital humanities by exploiting the resources offered by smartphones in order to analyze their uses, especially nomadic forms of participation in social networking apps. The goal is to create research protocols that could give us a comprehensive overview of contemporary appropriation of mobile technologies, highlighting how social and relational structures are renewed. To pursue this sociological challenge, innovative methodologies will be articulated with conventional methods of SHS and their theoretical frameworks. This ambition is relevant in a scientific context where digital studies emphasize the collection of large-scale data, sometimes using a paradigm that does not promote the cumulativity of SHS research and interdisciplinary dialogue. To encourage this cumulativity, we will combine a statistical analysis of data uses with interviews and (visual and increased) ethnographies in order to determine the signification actors assign to their digital practices and situate digital sociability in their social contexts. Our methods will also be developed to confirm or refute a sociological hypothesis that concretely puts into perspective, from the viewpoint of communication and ICT sociology, the knowledge acquired in social structure theories on the reproduction of social capital or the morphology of social networks.

The hypothesis of this project perceives smartphones and social networking apps as a melting pot where ICT propagates a type of social behavior, a "networked individualism" (Rainie, Wellman, 2012), a way of being, and develops social ties increasingly performed on an individual basis due to social and relational solicitations from ICT. This sociological hypothesis will be supported with methodological protocols defined to analyze three modes of appropriation of smartphones:

1. how social networking apps complete telephone practices and how they increase the deterritorialization of the structure of personal networks;

2. the hybridization of nomadic e-participations in the individual experience of activist practices and structure of large-scale online discussions.

3. the embedding of social networking apps usage in the ecology of professional activities and how the permanent availability of relational affinities competes with professional sociability now perceived as "constraints";

Project coordination

Julien Figeac (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CNRS/LISST Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires

Help of the ANR 299,592 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 48 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter