One million downloads for anthropological book series on Social Media

Posted on July 14, 2020 by Alison Fox

Ethnographic monographs usually sell just a few hundred copies. How, then, did an eleven volume anthropological series about the use and consequences of social media called Why We Post just pass one million downloads? It is not just the quantity that is unprecedented but also the reach. The series has been read by audiences around the world, with over 20,000 downloads in the Philippines and Brazil, over 10,000 in Nigeria and Indonesia and over 5,000 from Ethiopia and Hong Kong.


The series investigates the findings of anthropologists who each spent 15 months living in communities across the world immersed in the lives of people, those living in a town on the Syrian-Turkish border and small towns in South-East Italy, Chile, rural China, England and Trinidad amongst others. It was the first project to observe the shift in Facebook from younger to older people in 2012.  The study also demonstrated the importance of social media for everyday family life in south India and Brazil.  

The most downloaded volume is How the World Changed Social Media, which offers a comparative analysis summarising the results of the research, including the impact of social media on politics, gender, education and commerce. This is followed by Xinyuan Wang’s Social Media in Industrial China , which tracks the use of social media by migrants living in a factory town in southeast China.

The success of the series demonstrates the vast global interest in anthropology when the results are made accessible and are directly relevant to the lives of the same people that read these books.

Details of the Why We Post project can be found at All of the tiles, published by UCL Press, can be accessed and freely downloaded from the Why We Post series page.

The volume authors are Elisabetta Costa, Nell Haynes, Tom McDonald, Daniel Miller Razvan Nicolescu, Jolynna Sinanan, Juliano Spyer, Shriram Venkatraman, Xinyuan Wang

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