Augmented Sociality - How the Digital and Physical Worlds Merge in the Social Use of ICT

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


In the digitalized society of today, individuals are leading increasingly ICT infused social lives, both at work and during leisure. This development entails individuals repeatedly combining their digital- and physical-world social behaviors with and around information and communication technology (ICT) use in various work and leisure situations. With ICT impacting their ongoing sociality, this combining gives rise to complex social phenomena that come with both opportunities and risks for individuals' productivity and well-being. As a result, individuals can be left struggling in their efforts to keep their combining behaviors benign. These struggles, associated with the positive and negative effects of ICT use on individuals, are deemed an important, nascent topic in Information Systems (IS). This thesis focuses on how these struggles unfold, affect individuals' sociality and lead to the positive and negative effects on their productivity and well-being, by examining the social tensions arising and becoming resolved in the combining processes. Video-recorded empirical data from real interactions with and around ICT are used, supplemented with interviews. The videos are analyzed using multimodal interaction analysis and the interviews using content analysis, applying a theoretical background of symbolic interactionism. Based on the findings, the thesis introduces a novel theoretical device, the concept of Augmented Sociality, for understanding how the combining of the digital and physical worlds can be obtained in the social use of ICT in a way that is benign to the ongoing sociality. The thesis positions Augmented Sociality as a state in social behavior, an interactional co-achievement of humans and ICT, where the digital and physical worlds merge into one hybrid environment for social behavior. Augmented Sociality is made possible by individuals negotiating their interactions with each other and ICT in a socially acceptable way, staying within their social tolerance toward ICT use. Within this social tolerance, the combining behaviors are deemed socially acceptable ICT use, and as a result, the state of Augmented Sociality emerges. Maintaining Augmented Sociality requires heightened social sensitivity toward the social demands of all participants, whether human or ICT. Each incident of achieving this social acceptability reinforces Augmented Sociality. Over repeated achievements, individuals tend to adapt their social tolerances toward ICT use and help ICT to adjust itself accordingly, to comprise humans and ICT as one social group, across the digital and physical worlds as one hybrid social environment. These adaptations, in turn, impact the ways in which individuals work and spend time together during leisure and respond to ICT in interaction.The thesis proposes that Augmented Sociality can help in addressing the effects of ICT use on users' sociality, productivity and well-being. The thesis contributes to the knowledge on the effects of the increasing use of ICT and social use of ICT. Further, it provides real-life, empirical insights into the ways in which individuals keep up their social life with and around ICT.
Translated title of the contributionLaajennettu sosiaalisuus: kuinka digitaalinen ja fyysinen maailma sulautuvat yhteen ICT:n sosiaalisessa käytössä
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Tuunainen, Virpi, Supervising Professor
  • Sarker, Suprateek, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8325-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8326-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • increasing use of ICT
  • social use of ICT
  • dark side of ICT use
  • user behaviour
  • sociality
  • work
  • leisure
  • information systems


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