Vitalities Lab Newsletter 9 Spring 2020

10 September 2020

Spring has arrived in the southern hemisphere and we in the Vitalities Lab are welcoming the warmer weather as we continue to adjust to our work from home routines and re-imagine our research projects during the COVID pandemic. As we all work to navigate these challenging conditions, we are particularly excited to share one of our new initiatives, the ‘Breaking Methods’ YouTube Webinar Series. These slide-based webinars showcase some of the innovative social research methods we’ve adapted, designed, and engaged with and explain how we’re analysing the material these methods generate.

In these webinars we explore everything from storyboards and mapping methods, digital photo diaries and zine creation, to methods braiding and the use of TikTok and YouTube content as qualitative data. The series is designed to be accessible to students and researchers alike and we hope it offers some fresh ideas about how to keep research projects going in a time of much uncertainty.

A collection of handmade masks

We also continue to think through the various impacts of COVID-19 on professional, personal, and physical lives and to share these reflections on our blog. Lab members have explored  the ‘myth of the digital shift’ as we transition to working and conducting research online as well as the embodied experiences and social meanings of mask-wearing during the pandemic.  Guest posts by visiting scholars offer thoughtful insights into the ways COVID can help us recognize the constructed and political dimensions of healthcare and explore how the concept of kawai (cuteness) is used within the video game Animal Crossing to enable experiences of connection and caring in stressful times

Beyond the Vitaities Lab blog, lab members have also contributed further afield with Clare Southerton writing about how public shaming in the context of COVID-19 can harm public health efforts in The Conversation.  In the same outlet, Deborah synthesised recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to provide a useful snapshot of how the pandemic is impacting our everyday lives. 

In the meantime, we continue to work on our various social research projects (highlighted in our previous newsletter) and to engage in research activity and dialogue with colleagues in Australia and around the globe. A summary of recent publications,  presentations, and other activity not mentioned above is provided below. 

Academic Publications

  • Baker S, Buttigieg B, Cantillon Z, Pavlidis A, Rodriguez Castro L and Watson A (2020) Getting Students to ‘Do’ Introductory Sociology: Analysis of a blended and flipped interactive workshop. Journal of Sociology. Published OnlineFirst 8 July 2020 [Authorship order is alphabetical]. 
  • Clark, M. (2020). Signs, beaches, and bodies in pandemic times: A visual essay. Media International Australia, online first.
  • Lupton, D. (2020) Thinking with care about personal data profiling: a more-than-human approach. International Journal of Communication, 14, 3165-3183, available online at 
  • Lupton, D. and Watson, A. (2020) Towards a more-than-human digital data studies: developing research-creation methods. Qualitative Research, online first. doi:org/10.1177/1468794120939235 
  • Lupton, D. (2020) ‘Not the real me’: social imaginaries of personal data profiling. Cultural Sociology, online first. 
  • Lupton, D. (2020) A more-than-human approach to bioethics: the example of digital health. Bioethics, online first. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12798 
  • Lupton, D. (2020) Special section on ‘Sociology and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’. Health Sociology Review, 29(2), 111-112. 
  • Lupton, D. (2020) Digital media and health. In Merkin, D. (ed.), Sage International Encyclopedia of Mass Media and Society. Online. Available at 
  • Rich, E., Lewis, S., Lupton, D. and Miah, A. (2020) Digital Health Generation? Young People’s Use of ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ Technologies. Bath: University of Bath, UK. Available at Available at
  • Rasmussen, M.L, Southerton, C., Fela, G.. Marshall, D., Rasmussen, M.L, Cover, R., and Aggleton, P. (2020) ‘Playing recognition politics: queer theoretical reflections on LGBTQ youth social policy in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s’ Archives of Sexual Behavior, 

Other Publications

  • Watson, A. So Fi Zine edition #7. Published August 21, 2020. 
  • Watson, A. Into the Sea, Leiden: Brill. [Novel] Published June 4, 2020

Workshops and Presentations

In June, Marianne gave a keynote lecture to graduate students at the IT University of Copenhagen enrolled in a special course called ‘Research Interrupted’. Marianne’s talk, ‘The pandemic pivot: Re-imagining relationality and physicality in unfolding and uncertain research contexts’ addressed strategies for adapting social research during pandemic conditions.

In August , Deborah shared an overview of early findings from her project examining Australians’ experiences of COVID in a seminar hosted by the Centre for Health and Social Research (19 August 2020). She also gave the Wellness + Society plenary address at Sorbonne University, Paris in September titled ‘ COVID life narratives: a sociomaterial approach’ (4 September 2020).

Ash, Marianne and Deborah participated in the “Living In, With and Beyond the ‘Smart Home’” symposium hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making in September. Marianne shared her paper co-authored with Deborah titled, ‘This is where I come to breathe’: The unexpected affects and affordances of exercising at home. Ash presented, ‘From workplaces to smart/home work spaces: Insights into the affective and requisitional presence of domestic digital technologies during COVID-19’ a paper co-authored with Deborah and Mike Michaels from the University of Exeter, UK.

Ash has also been busy with her involvement in TASA and sharing her passion for sociological fiction and zine making through the following events.

  • Sociological Fiction. Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series, University of Western Australia. 28 August, 2020. 
  • Zines for Data Justice. Ida B. Wells Data Justice Lab, Princeton University. 31 July, 2020  
  • TASA Rapid Peer Support Session. The Australian Sociological Association. 4 June, 2020.

Media Appearances

  • Deborah was quoted in a Sydney Morning Herald article on Australians’ experiences of COVID-19, 31 May 2020
  • Deborah was also quoted in an ABC News Online article on wellness influencers and conspiracy theories, 16 June 2020
  • An article in featured Deborah’s research on Australians’ experiences of COVID-19 in August
  • Clare Southerton was interviewed for SBS Radio for a piece titled, ‘Why are COVID-19 infections surging among young people?’ 6 August 2020 


Published by Marianne Clark

Marianne is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Vitalities Lab, UNSW Sydney interested in moving bodies, digital bodies and cultures, and all those bodies 'in-between'.

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