Academic Profile : Faculty

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Assoc Prof James Patrick Williams
Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences
Patrick Williams is a cultural sociologist and social psychologist trained in the symbolic interactionist tradition of sociology. He has theoretical interests in identity and authenticity, methodological interests in ethnography and grounded theory, and empirical interests in youth cultures and subcultures, digital technology and social media, and games. He has authored and edited a number of books on topics such as subcultural theory, identity and authenticity, music, and tabletop and video games.

Patrick teaches (or has taught) courses in cultural sociology, cultural studies, social psychology, symbolic interactionism, youth cultures and subcultures, media and society, technology and society, science fiction, qualitative research methods, and the philosophy of science. He is a dedicated mentor and supervisor and has won every major teaching award at NTU, including the School (2011), College (2013) and University (2018) awards.

He is a past-Vice President (2013-14) of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. He earned his PhD from the University of Tennessee (2003).
Professor Williams is trained in the symbolic interactionist tradition of sociology, a social-psychological perspective that foregrounds language and meaning as key dimensions of understanding the everyday life.

Prof Williams' research focuses on youth cultures and subcultures, self and identity, digital media, and games. Much of Prof Williams' publications has centered on the construction of subcultural selves/identities among young people who feel in some way separate from mainstream society. His main contributions to sociology have been theorizing (1) the role new media technologies play in facilitating the development and diffusion of subcultures and subcultural identities and (2) theorizing the social construction of subcultural authenticity. His second interest relates to the increasing salience of fantasy and digital games in everyday life.
  • GPT’s applicability for assisting qualitative researchers in the collection and analysis of social media data
  • Singapore youths leveraging social media to face everyday mental and emotional challenges in a post-Covid world
Nanyang Education Award, School (2011)
Nanyang Education Award, College (2013)
Nanyang Education Award, University (2018)
Courses Taught
- Digital Literacy and Society
- Culture, Self and Identity
- Social Psychology
- Youth Cultures and Subcultures
- Social Science Fiction

- Theories and Methods of Social Research
- Sociological Theories of Identity
- Symbolic Interactionism
- Subcultural Theory
Supervision of PhD Students
I supervise students in topics related to microsociology and social psychology, identity and authenticity, alternative and subcultures, digital media technologies, and games.

Topics of current and past supervised PhD and MA students:
- Critical Media Literacy and Multimodality
- Multilingualism on Deaf Identities
- Disney’s Star Wars and the circuit of culture
- Socialization, meaning-making, interaction in digital games
- Constructing adverse childhood experience, identity, and self-care through music subcultures
- Reputation in public identity negotiations in K-pop scandals
- Sensory disabilities, identities and employment experiences
- 'Amateur' and 'professional' identities among people pursuing games-related careers
- Mediated experiences of cancer through social media