Vitalities Lab Newsletter Number 8

Tuesday 19 May, 2020

Like many people around the world, all of us in the Vitalities Lab have been adjusting to the ever-changing ‘new normal’. We’re all currently working from home using a range of tools to keep in touch and connected during this time of isolation (you can read about our digital workspace.) Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, it has impacted so many aspects of daily life.

Vitalities Lab Postdocs document working from home (left Marianne, top right Ash, bottom right Clare)

As social scientists, lab members have started thinking about some of these impacts and writing about them on our blog. We’ve been thinking about the popularity of home fitness and the emphasis governing bodies continue to place on physical exercise during the pandemic; the role social networking apps like TikTok may play in sharing information about COVID-19; as well as the ways digital technologies and data analytics have been used to monitor people’s movements under what we could call ‘digital quarantine’. We also documented our own COVID-19 experiences using a visual diary.

During this time of significant disruption to academic work, there has also been a lot of amazing collaboration. Deborah created a ‘Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic’ – a crowdsourced resource which has received worldwide use (recently translated into French!) and compiles creative ideas about how to do qualitative research in physically distanced ways. In addition, Deborah also compiled some COVID-related open-access resources for social researchers.

Despite the pandemic, things are busy at the Lab and we’re working on lots of different projects – many now adapted for the new COVID world we’re living in. A list of our current projects is below:

Vitalities Lab members proudly displaying our lab branded keep cups in happier pre-COVID times
  • ‘Australians’ Experiences of the COVID-19 Crisis: A Social Research Study’ (Deborah Lupton and Sophie Lewis)
  • Special section of Health Sociology Review on Sociology and COVID-19 (edited by Deborah Lupton)
  • The Coronavirus Crisis: Social Perspectives – an edited book by Deborah Lupton with Karen Willis to be published by Routledge
  • ‘Living with Personal Data: Australians’ Experiences and Practices’ (Deborah Lupton, Ash Watson and Mike Michael) – one new focus of this project is people’s experiences of using digital devices in the home under lockdown conditions
  • ‘Reading Zines: A Cultural Sociological Study’ (Ash Watson and Andy Bennett) – including changes in creative practices and community during COVID-19
  • ‘Mapping Queer Histories, Designing Queer Community: A Sociological Study of Queering the Map’ (Ash Watson, Emma Kirby, Brady Robards, Brendan Churchill, Lucas LaRochelle)
  • Entangled Sporting Bodies: A Lively Introduction to Feminist New Materialisms: a book in progress by Marianne with Holly Thorpe and Julie Brice from University of Waikato
  • ‘Movement and Meaning during COVID-19: Australians’ Experiences of Physical Activity and Uses of Space and Place during the COVID Crisis’. (Marianne Clark)
  • ‘Lipsyncing for our Lives?: TikTok, Health and (Mis)information during the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (Clare Southerton)
  • ‘Digital Parenting and the Deployment and Disruption of Shame Online’ (Marianne Clark, Clare Southerton and Vicki Harman)
  • ‘Time in the Time of Corona’ – a collaborative writing project (Ash Waston, Marianne Clark, Clare Southerton and Katrine Melgaard Kjær)

New academic publications

Deborah’s new book with Zeena Feldman

Other publications

Watson, A. (2020) Moths. Baby Teeth Journal. [Poetry]


Associate Professor Caroline Lenette (left) and Natalie Nesvaderani (right) at the Decolonizing Visual Methods workshop

In February Ash co-ran an invited workshop ‘Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment: A Critical Feminist Arts/Research Workshop’ at the University of Melbourne with Dr Laura Rodriguez Castro and Samantha Trayhurn – you can read more about this workshop on our blog.

The Lab was also fortunate enough to host a workshop from a visiting PhD student Natalie Nesvaderani from Cornell University on ‘Decolonizing Visual Methods with Displaced and Refugee Youth’ on 9th March. You can read more about Natalie’s work here.

On 10th March Marianne and Clare ran a movement-based workshop at UNSW called ‘Moving Data Workshop: Exploring the Sensory Dimensions of Research Practice’, involving creative and physical activities.

Our Moving Data Workshop at the Vitalities Lab, UNSW, pre-COVID

On the 1st April Deborah was an invited speaker for a webinar for QSR International on the topic of ‘Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork During COVID-19’ (slides available online).

Ash was a panellist in a HDR seminar focusing on online interviews and focus groups, which was hosted online by the Centre for Social Research in Health and Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW on April 22.

Deborah was also the speaker for a webinar on ‘More-than-Human Methods and Theories for COVID Worlds’ at Griffith University’s Centre for Social and Cultural Research.

Media appearances

  • Deborah was quoted in a Sydney Morning Herald article on COVID-19 apps, 21 April 2020.
  • Oprah Magazine quoted Deborah in an article on femtech in the May issue 2020.

The Vitalities Lab is led by SHARP Professor Deborah Lupton, Centre for Social Research in Health and Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney. Team members are Dr Ashleigh Watson, Dr Clare Southerton and Dr Marianne Clark. Further details here


Published by Clare Southerton

​​Dr Clare Southerton is a Lecturer in Digital Technology and Pedagogy in the School of Education at La Trobe University. Her research explores how social media platforms and other digital technologies are used for learning and sharing knowledge.

2 thoughts on “Vitalities Lab Newsletter Number 8

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: