David Toews received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Warwick, England. An award-winning teacher and major grant recipient in the area of Sociology, he has been a faculty member in several universities.
In his research, he is a specialist in the social thought of the classical sociologist and philosopher Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904). The first to critically analyse the contemporary revival of Tarde in English in frequently cited papers in Theory, Culture, and Society and the Journal of Classical Sociology, his most recent essay “Tarde and Simmel on Sociability and Unsociability” is included in an Anthem Press collection on Tarde. He also leads a growing area of scholarship involved with applying Tarde’s theories to qualitative methods for understanding contemporary social life, and is a contributor to the Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology. He has held an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada for his project “The Influence of Social Media on Sociability and Unsociability”.
Toews’ monograph book Social Life and Political Life in the Era of Digital Media: Higher Diversities is now published in the series Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought. He examines how social media influences the structure of the lived experience of social interactions in everyday life in contemporary globalized capitalist societies. Pointing out that people use social media as much to separate themselves as to create communities, the book examines how people interpret, resist, and make use of various features and applications of social media culture to manage their social lives. Early reviews are positive:
Christian Borch of the Copenhagen Business School points out that “a central achievement of this book is to insist that, instead of rushing to analyze the surface effects of digital media, it is crucial first to contemplate the relationship between social life and political life. Toews masterfully scrutinizes this relationship by reinvigorating classical sociological thinkers such as Bergson, Simmel, and Tarde, and bringing them into dialogue with present-day theory and concerns. The result is a significant contribution to social theory.”
Francois Dépelteau assesses the book through the lens of relational theory: “Employing an original relationalist interpretation of such thinkers as G. Deleuze and G. Tarde, David Toews discusses the effects of new social media on relations in a world characterized by social inequalities and new political phenomena like Trump’s presidency. Anybody interested by the metamorphoses of this world and social theories should read this text written by a skilled sociologist.”
Peter Wagner of the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and the University of Barcelona, Spain has said that “Digital media have transformed social and political life. Everyone is aware of this, but few have tried to understand this transformation in such a profound way as David Toews in this book. Avoiding the common practices of facile praise or condemnation, Toews mobilizes resources from the sociological tradition to provide a nuanced analysis of our new time.”
Toews has taught critical, interdisciplinary courses on Modernity and Postmodernity, and Philosophies of Life as well as Sociological Theory. His course at York University SOCI2060: Social Interaction and Community updated symbolic interactionist sociology for the digital media era and led to the innovative student-created extra-curricular program “Falling in Love with Research” and a John O’Neill Award for Teaching Excellence.