New media, democracy and stability

The adoption of market mechanisms and new technologies in media around the world have brought about tremendous changes in government, business, research, and many other areas of everyday life. Debates about the consequences of market-based and new media usually center around claiming the revolutionizing effects deepening democracy and destabilizing existing power structures; others argue that the market or technology may strengthen control and authoritarianism without much capacity for political change. This course examines the consequences of changes in the media landscape within different political systems. We will attempt go beyond highlighting the utopian and dystopian effects and instead identify which arguments have yielded the strongest evidence.

Following the logic of classifications into democratic and authoritarian political systems the course is divided into two parts: the first part deals with market-based and new media as providers of information, focusing on content that is produced online; here we are particularly interested in whether content is becoming more uniform or diverse as the first dimension differentiating democratic and authoritarian tendencies. The second part focuses on the participatory aspects of new media technology that provides citizens with new opportunities to engage; political engagement constitutes the second dimension defining democratic and authoritarian elements.

The course takes a global perspective, going beyond Europe and the United States to China, Russia, and the Middle East. Students are welcome to bring up examples from other countries.

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