Virality is a research blog intended to support discussion and debate on contagion theory and related topics.

To find out more please take a look at the posts on the left of your screen.

Virality the blog also accompanies a book on the subject of contagion theory titled Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks, published by the University of Minnesota Press in August, 2012.


“Impressive and ambitious, Virality offers a new theory of the viral as a sociological event.” Brian Rotman, Ohio State University

“Tarde and Deleuze come beautifully together in this outstanding book, the first to really put forward a serious alternative to neo-Darwinian theories of virality, contagion, and memetics. A thrilling read that bears enduring consequences for our understanding of network cultures. Unmissable.” Tiziana Terranova, author of Network Culture

“Sampson is a great writer, and the language itself is affective: ‘bullish’, ‘cynical’ are words that become not just descriptive but gather a force of expression in Sampson’s way of mapping techniques of the noncognitive in marketing and politics.”  Jussi Parikka’s review in Theory, Culture and Society

“[Virality] is an important interdisciplinary contribution to the understanding of network cultures not only because it puts into historical context how crowd behavior has been studied for the last hundred years, but also because it helps anyone interested in attaining a more in-depth understanding of Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy; thus, Virality is a real contribution to assemblage theory and its relation to media archeology in terms of network analysis. For this reason, it is a book that anyone interested in understanding how social media functions at the beginning of the 21st century should seriously consider reading.” Huffington Post book review by Eduardo Navas

Virality participates in a growing scholarly trend within the humanities in which researchers criticize and propose alternatives to the reification of a methodological division between biology and culture. While dense, Virality treats a wide range of relevant scholarship as it presents a refreshing approach to contagion theory in what has been a stagnant area of scholarship… the book is both innovative and timely, which means that the work necessary to understand Sampson’s connections will be well rewarded.” Claire Barber in Reviews in Cultural Theory.

For a summary of the book’s main themes see the below video produced by students on the MA New Media and Digital Culture programme at the University of Amsterdam. Published on YouTube Oct 30, 2012 by Bozhan Chipev.

Also see this interview with the author on the TCS blog ‘Tarde as Media Theorist’: an interview with Tony D. Sampson, by Jussi Parikka

15 Responses to About

  1. Jairo Lugo-Ocando says:

    I would like to get in contact with anyone researching on `contagion and social protest, especially in the context of rumors adn social media…. please get in touch.

    • Jayson Harsin says:

      I’m writing a book called “The Rumor Bomb: Vertiginous Democracy in Convergence Culture,” and have already published a few articles that will be featured in the book. Searching Harsin and rumor bomb, you will find them pretty quickly. I just discovered Tony’s work over the last couple of months and it will figure importantly in my theory of rumor bombs.

  2. Virality says:

    Yes, It would be nice to get some work on protest on this blog. You’ll see the post about the Greek journal Re-Public (in the archives). It was going to be a really nice edition, I think. Shame that the guys running it have not been paid for 5 or 6 months now and are on strike!

  3. Julio Varela says:

    THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF FORUM I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR . . . the confluence of all these topics in one place for people with similar interests to talk about is exactly what the net is supposed to be about. Congratulations to Tony Sampson on both the book and the blog!!

  4. John Postill says:

    Great initiative. I look forward to following this blog and reading the book. I’ve written about what I call ‘the age of viral reality’ in connection to the new protest movements here: http://johnpostill.com/2011/10/03/democracy-in-the-age-of-viral-reality-1/

  5. Virality says:

    Thanks for the link John! Looks very interesting. Perfect for this blog. I’ll take a closer look and add something about it to the posts next week.

  6. Virality says:

    Thanks Julio, would be nice to have something about your book here! Perhaps you can send me something I can post?

    • Julio Varela says:

      From my book “Vortex to Virus, Myth to Meme” : “In the case of nihilism and chaos, the ongoing epistemological and ontological revolution initiated by the likes of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, the collapse of myth as a totalizing source of meaning, and the transition from a Newtonian, deterministic worldview to a quantum-relativistic, chaotic worldview transformed the Western cultural landscape, paving the way for the “viral” spread of nihilism and chaos to different intellectual and cultural strata.” Just tossing this in to start a discussion hopefully with the members of the blog. I would be very interested in the feedback. I am trying to develop these ideas further and could use the constructive criticism. Thanks, …

  7. James and Angie Howard says:

    Congratulations on the book. It is covering a very important subject, we need people like you to make people aware of this .

  8. Julio Varela says:

    Seeing that Deleuze’s notion of the assemblage figures prominently here at the blog, I was wondering to what extent Virality followers and contributors follow the work of Manuel De Landa. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve read some of his stuff on assemblages over the years, and it is very interesting. He has a way of addressing Deleuze and complexity and ontology in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Would welcome any insights from Virality members with regard to De Landa’s work and how it fits in with Virality. . .

    • Virality says:

      One interesting feature of DeLanda for me is the similarity between his assemblage theory of the social and Tarde’s work. Aside from the few explicit references to Tarde in Deleuze (there are of course many implicit references), DeLanda writes interestingly about the importance of special replicators. He also takes up the case against Durkheim, which is where I think Deleuze seems to become most inspired by Tarde i.e. the difference between collective representations and subrepresentational forces in the social field. Indeed, I am surprised that Tarde did not figure in DeLanda’s book.

  9. Alfie says:

    The theory sounds fascinating. Congratulations on the new book!

  10. @renatagames says:

    I’m super curious about your book. I’ve written about empathy, mirron neurons, ethics and fictional characters, but it’s in portuguese… I’ve been trying to find a way to pursue this research and link it with Hardt/Negri’s work, but haven’t quite found a good approach yet… Anyone out there researching these things?

    • Virality says:

      Thanks for your interest. I have indeed looked at Obama’s use of empathy and also mirror neurons in my book. I am therefore super curious about your work too. Do you have a summary of your approach in English. I would happily post about it here and add a link to your work. We get quite a few visits from Portuguese speaking countries.

  11. @renatagames says:

    I’m super curious about your book, can’t wait until it comes out. I’ve written about empathy, mirror neurons, ethics and fictional characters in videogames, but it’s in portuguese… I’m trying to connect this research with hardt/negri’s work, but i haven’t yet found a good approach – anyone out there working on something like that? by the way, can we expect an ebook version of your book? congratulations on this forum, it’s very very interesting. best regards.

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