Introduction & Organization

Modules Introduction & Aims

This module examines the dynamics between politics and new media in different spheres of the political landscape. In her book “Democratic Phoenix”, McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Pippa Norris Norris defines political parties as the central organizations that link citizens and the state. Political parties play multiple functions, ranging from organizing and mobilizing campaigns, articulating and aggregating disparate interests, facilitating debate to organizing the government. Norris also spoke about the diversification of political participation in terms of who, what and where.

The Internet has changed all these three aspects of politics and political participation. For instance, political parties or groups are no longer confined to just organizations that are actively involved in the governing of a nation, but those which advocate specific rights and privileges, such as civil society organizations and issue-based groups. The evolutionary of political actors is best exemplified by the expansion of “non-state” actors from non-governmental and civil society organizations to include ordinary citizens.

Through three units, students will critically examine how media and politics play out in various domains. Students will learn to learn to assess and apply theoretical frameworks used to explain the relationship between new media and different stakeholders and apply them in personal research and writing. Through writing and research workshops, writing assignments, paper conferences and peer-review exercises, students will: (i) develop critical analytical skills of source materials, (ii) construct and present rigorous oral and written arguments, and (iii) gain mastery over the protocols of academic writing. This module has a strong research focus and students are expected to conceptualise and implement a research project.

Organization of the Module

Unit 1 examines key concepts and theories pertaining to political participation and media effects. Students will engage with various theoretical frameworks and analyse the impact of new media in different political contexts. This unit also incorporates writing and research workshops that inform students of the techniques of developing a research paper and facilitate their appraisal of the various research methods used in this field of study.

The second unit focuses on the different types of political actors and their deployment of digital technologies to achieve political and civic agenda. These actors come from different realms – the party level, civil society level and grassroots level – and Unit 2 examines human agency behind technology deployment, their effectiveness and limitations.

Finally, Unit 3 informs students of regulatory and censorship measures in different political contexts. This unit will deepen students’ insights into the nuanced relationship between state, technology and participation. Students will present their research essay and are expected to engage with their peers’ essays through providing feedback and recommendations