Contentious politics in a digital world

From Iran to the Ukraine to the Arab Spring, digital technology seems to have provided protesters on the streets with new means of voicing their grievances and mobilising against repressive rulers. At the same time, governments from China to Turkey are steadily increasing censorship of the Internet. This course will focus specifically on the ways in which information and communication technology, including mobile phones, social media and geographical location tools have changed the opportunities, choices and incentives of activists, protest movements, armed organisations, and governments.

By the end of the course students will have developed an understanding of current state-of-the-art research and developments on the relationship between digitalisation and contentious politics. This includes an understanding of the ways in which social media and the Internet in general have affected mobilisation processes, conflict dynamics, activism, and authoritarian survival. A key objective is to equip students with the tools that will help them critically evaluate the fast-moving debates in the area (in particular the sweeping claims frequently made in the public debate), critically evaluate empirical research being produced in this area, and reflect on and develop their own understanding of how technological developments are affecting contentious politics.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.