Social scientists constantly face new challenges when conducting empiri cal research. This is especially true in the so-called society 5.0 (Gladden, 2019), an increasingly digital, changing, and multifaceted society which challenges the established methodological and sociological canon in favour of inno vative practices in the analysis of this social multiverse in which everyday life is now a complex fusion of digital and analogic scenarios. Being always connected (Bull, 2010), people and societies, with their institutions and infra structures, revolutionize social forms, consociations, and structures, giving rise to meta-comprehensive issues to be assessed not only about the subject, the structure, and their interactions in the governance of emergent forms of social living, but also about the meta-combinations that digital transposi tions create as subjects with a new and personal agency (Passey at al., 2018). Therefore, every system and social structure is not exempt from change, and social scientists applying traditional theoretical and empirical frameworks often experience some limitations in trying to elect these hybrid systems and social structures as cognitive objects and analytical referents. It is thus that the digital and its agency become the central knot to unravel for the social researcher who, beyond the field of application, will have to pose a series of meta-questions that are no longer negligible in a society undergoing a digital turn (Lupton, 2015). Digital technologies found a place in culture and society inhabited by humans and by the products of their actions, reactions, and interactions (Punziano, 2022). Thus, digital technologies have become parts of our daily materiality, entangled in the structures of society in many differ ent, complex, and even contradictory ways, deeply changing the practices, symbols, and shared meanings of our societies (Veltri, 2021). In this special issue, titled The impact of digital on research, socialisation, and communication processes, the digital is placed at the middle of a paradigmatic vision in which it is not only a transposed scenario of social life and its structures and processes, but is a subject acting on the processes and struc tures it involves. This explains why this issue focuses on two fundamental spheres of society. On one hand, socialisation understood in the broad sense of a complex process through which the individual becomes a member of society, integrating into a social group or community through the dynamic and contingent interchange between the individual and the environment, in the context of this special issue theorised as a set of environments or digital/ not digital social multiverses. On the other hand, communication and its processes are understood as elements of transmission without which it is impossible to disclose, construct and reconstruct shared social meanings, even when the spaces, the forms, and the subjects of exchange multiply. It is also undeniable that the Covid-19 pandemic from late 2019 onwards acted on society and its structures in the direction of the three ‘A’s: acceleration, ac cumulation, avantgarde (Velotti, Punziano, Addeo, 2022) jointly on processes under investigation than on the way to study these processes. Research, re searchers, methods, and approaches, among others, become further subjects of change, leading us to question the future of the traditional research canon in the study of digital society. Finally, the aim of this issue is to examine both the impact of the digital on contexts such as education, policy and pol itics, sensitive population and topics – such as gender and sexualities, old and new disparities and inequalities – and the spread of innovative digital research practices. Due to the richness and breadth of the topics covered in this issue, it was decided to divide this introductory essay into paragraphs that will allow readers to focus on specific areas and topics
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