Vitalities Lab Newsletter 10 Summer 2021

2 February 2021

It is summer in Sydney and we at the Vitalities Lab are back in the office for another new year. After some collective downtime we have hit the ground running, riding the ripple effects of our globally tumultuous 2020 and beginning to make sense of the post-COVID world. One phenomenon that has certainly been on our minds (and bodies) since our last newsletter is the COVID face mask. Since early in the pandemic we have followed the face mask as a health technology and a cultural and political artefact. We wrote about this for The Conversation in October, and in December we submitted the manuscript for our forthcoming monograph with De Gruyter, The Face Mask in COVID Times: A Sociomaterial Analysis, to be published later this year.

In early December, we were delighted to attend our first in-person event since very early last year – Digital Intimacies 6: Connection in Crisis at the University of Technology Sydney, from December 6th to 8th. Kudos to the organisers who pulled off an excellent three-day hybrid symposium plus a number of satellite events. We had a strong Vitalities Lab showing at DI6, presenting our research across a number of papers. On Day 1, Deborah Lupton presented ‘Trust, risk and digital media: Australians’ experiences of the COVID-19 crisis’, Leanne Downing presented ‘The moments you missed: Exploring the digital intimacies of telehealth psychology consults during the COVID crisis’, Marianne Clark presented ‘Crisis and the body: the digital health entanglements of COVID-19’, and Ash Watson presented ‘Being together in crisis: digital co-presence and intimacy during COVID-19’. On Day 2, Clare Southerton presented ‘The affective atmospheres of lockdown TikTok’.

Clare also presented a paper with Giselle Newton, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Research in Health at UNSW, at the Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific symposium titled ‘Everyday TikTok Talk: A method for a reflexive encounter with #donorconceived’. The symposium was hosted by Curtin University on December 7.

In December, Marianne Clark with colleagues Holly Thorpe and Julie Brice published Feminist New Materialisms, Sport and Fitness: A Lively Entanglement with Palgrave Macmillan, part of the New Femininities in Digital, Physical and Sporting Cultures book series. This book offers the first critical examination of the contributions of feminist new materialist thought to the study of sport, fitness, and physical culture. 

Ash Watson published another edition of So Fi Zine, featuring creative submissions from authors around the world and a guest editorial by Ruha Benjamin. So Fi Zine is a sociological fiction zine, free to read online at

Ash also launched her debut novel Into the Sea, in conversation with Shanthi Robertson as part of The Australian Sociological Association’s 2020 conference. You can watch a recording of the launch here, or grab a copy of the book here.

Below we list our recent publications,  presentations, and other activity not mentioned above.

Academic Publications

  • Lupton, D. (2021) Young people’s use of digital health in the Global North: narrative review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, available online at
  • Watson, A. (2021) Writing sociological fiction. Qualitative Research, online first.
  • Lupton, D. and Southerton, C. (2021) The thing-power of the Facebook assemblage: why do users stay on the platform? Journal of Sociology, online first.
  • Kirby, E., Watson, A., Churchill, B., Robards, B. and LaRochelle, L. (2021) Queering the Map: stories of love, loss and (be)longing within a digital cartographic archive. Media, Culture and Society, online first.
  • Lupton, D. (2021) Self-tracking. In Abel, J. et al. (eds), Information: Keywords. Columbia University Press
  • Lupton, D. (2021) Afterword: future methods for digital food studies. In Leer, J. and Krogager, S.G.S. (eds), Research Methods in Digital Food Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 222-227
  • Watson, A. and Lupton, D. (2020) Tactics, affects and agencies in digital privacy narratives: a story completion study. Online Information Review, online first.
  • Watson, A., Lupton, D. and Michael, M. (2020) Enacting intimacy and sociality at a distance in the COVID-19 crisis: the sociomaterialities of home-based communication technologies. Media International Australia, online first. doi:
  • Lupton, D. (2020) Caring dataveillance: women’s use of apps to monitor pregnancy and children. In Green, L., Holloway, D., Stevenson, K., Leaver, T. and Haddon, L. (eds), The Routledge Companion to Digital Media and Children. London: Routledge, pp. 393-402
  • Lupton, D. (2020) The sociology of mobile apps. In Rohlinger, D. and Sobieraj, S. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Digital Media. New York: Oxford, online first. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197510636.013.15
  • Brice, J., Clark, M., & Thorpe, H. (2020). Feminist collaborative becomings: an entangled process of knowing through fitness objects, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2020.1820560
  • Newman, C., MacGibbon, J., Smith, A. K. J., Broady, T., Lupton, D., Davis, M., Bear, B., Bath, N., Comensoli, D., Cook, T., Duck-Chong, E., Ellard, J., Kim, J., Rule, J., & Holt, M. (2020). Understanding Trust in Digital Health among Communities Affected by BBVs and STIs in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health. Available at
  • Fox, B., Goggin, G., Lupton, D., Regenbrecht, H., Scuffham, P. and Vucetic, B. (2020) The Internet of Things. Report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies. Melbourne: ACOLA. Available at
  • Robards, B., Watson, A., Kirby, E., Churchill, B., & LaRochelle, L. (2020). Queering the Map: Physical traces and digital places of queer lives. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2020.
  • Byron, P., McKee, A., Watson, A., Litsou, K. and Ingham, R. (2020) Reading for realness: porn literacies, digital media and young people. Sexuality & Culture, online first.

Other Publications

Workshops and Presentations

  • Ash hosted a public online workshop on September 9 on “Social Science Fiction” as part of Social Sciences Week Australia. The workshop was supported by The Sociological Review and the Vitalities Lab, UNSW. The recording is available here.
  • Deborah delivered the keynote for UNSW’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences HDR conference on September 16
  • On October 2, Deborah gave an invited seminar presentation for San Francisco State University
  • Deborah was an invited member of the panel for Bold Thinking – Risky Business: The Politics of Preparing for a Pandemic, hosted by La Trobe University on October 13
  • Deborah gave the keynote address for the Data-Driven Culture Conference at the University of Turku on October 23
  • Ash was invited to speak at a November 5 seminar on autoethnography for the Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher sessions run by The Australian Sociological Association
  • On November 6, Deborah gave an invited seminar presentation for the University of Minnesota
  • Deborah delivered a keynote for the Lockdown: Mental Illness, Wellness and COVID-19 conference, hosted by Curtin University and the University of East London on November 17
  • On November 24, Marianne presented a paper at TASA’s 2020 conference titled ‘How movement comes to matter: Exploring the sensory atmospheres and embodied affects of physical activity during COVID-19’
  • Also on November 24, Deborah was an invited member of a plenary panel on Sociology and COVID-19 at the TASA annual conference
  • Ash was the chair of a plenary titled Sociological Insight for the Now Normal, part of TASA’s 2020 conference, on November 25
  • Deborah gave a keynote at the TASA Social Theory and COVID-19 conference on November 27
  • On November 30 Deborah gave an invited presentation to the Australian Academic of Technology and Engineering on the ACOLA Internet of Things report
  • Marianne gave an invited lecture on December 1 for the University of Toronto titled ‘Introduction to Post Qualitative Research’

Media Appearances

Finally, since our last newsletter, Ash completed her term as Secretary of TASA, Clare became a founding member of the TikTok Cultures Network and Marianne was invited to join the Annals of Leisure Research as an Editorial Board Member.


Published by Ash Watson

Sociologist and writer

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