2021/04/07 Andreas Jungherr

Syllabus: The Digital Transformation in Society and Politics

Course Description

The seminar gives in-depth insight into the history, terms, theories and methods of investigating the effects of digitization on society and politics. Technical design, usage patterns and the mutual influence of digitization, society and politics are discussed and research methods are presented. Corresponding topics are clarified against the background of current, international case studies.

[Syllabus, German]

Session Overview

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Challenges
  • Week 3: Control
  • Week 4: Culture
  • Week 5: Platform economy
  • Week 6: Information environments and the public arena
  • Week 7: Data
  • Week 8: Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Week 9: Data, AI, and the State
  • Week 10: USA
  • Week 11: EU
  • Week 12: China
  • Week 13: Digital geopolitics
  • Week 14: Discussion of open questions and essays
  • Detailed Session Plan


    Mandatory readings

  • Yochai Benkler (2006). “Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge”. In: The wealth of networks: how social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 1–28.
  • Background readings

  • Martin Gurri (2018). The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Stripe Press.
  • Eliot Higgins (2021). We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Alan Rusbridger (2018). Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now. Edinburgh: Canongate.
  • Joe Trippi (2004). The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything. New York: Regan Books.
  • Fred Turner (2006). From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Presentations

  • William H. Dutton (2009). “The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks”. In: Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 27.1, pp. 1–15. DOI: 10.1080/08109020802657453.
  • Andreas Jungherr, Ralph Schroeder, and Sebastian Stier (2019). “Digital Media and the Surge of Political Outsiders: Explaining the Success of Political Challengers in the United States, Germany, and China”. In: Social Media + Society 5.3, pp. 1–12. DOI: 10.1177/2056305119875439.
  • Simone Natale and Andrea Ballatore (2014). “The web will kill them all: new media, digital utopia, and political struggle in the Italian 5-Star Movement”. In: Media, Culture & Society 36.1, pp. 105–121. DOI: 10.1177/0163443713511902.
  • Control

    Mandatory readings

  • Yochai Benkler (2016). “Degrees of Freedom, Dimensions of Power”. In: Dædalus 145.1, pp. 18–32. DOI: 10.1162/DAED_a_00362.
  • Background readings

  • James Beniger (1989). The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu (2006). Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • David Kaye (2019). Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet. New York: Columbia Global Reports.
  • Lawrence Lessig (2006). Code: version 2.0. New York: Basic Books.
  • James C. Scott (1998). Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Tim Wu (2010). The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Presentations

  • Laura DeNardis (2012). “Hidden levers of Internet control: An infrastructure-based theory of Internet governance”. In: Information Communication & Society 15.5, pp. 720–738. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2012.659199.
  • Daphne Keller (2018). Internet Platforms: Observations on Speech, Danger, and Money. Aegis series paper 1807. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution.
  • Culture

    Mandatory readings

  • Limor Shifman (2016). “Cross-Cultural Comparisons of User-Generated Content: An Analytical Framework”. In: International Journal of Communication 10, pp. 5644–5663.
  • Background readings

  • Alberto Acerbi (2020). Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner (2017). The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Andreas Reckwitz (2019). Die Gesellschaft der Singularitäten: Zum Strukturwandel der Moderne. Berlin: Suhrkamp.
  • Limor Shifman (2013). Memes in digital culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Presentations

  • Sharad Goel, Ashton Anderson, et al. (2016). “The Structural Virality of Online Diffusion”. In: Management Science 62.1, pp. 180–196. DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2015.2158.
  • Asaf Nissenbaum and Limor Shifman (2017). “Internet memes as contested cultural capital: The case of 4chan’s /b/ board”. In: New Media & Society 19.4, pp. 483–501. DOI: 10.1177/1461444815609313.
  • Matthew J. Salganik, Peter S. Dodds, and Duncan J. Watts (2006). “Experimental study of inequality and unpredictability in an artificial cultural market”. In: Science 311.5762, pp. 854–856. DOI: 10.1126/science.1121066.
  • Matthew J. Salganik and Duncan J. Watts (2008). “Leading the herd astray: An experimental study of self-fulfilling prophecies in an artificial cultural market”. In: Social Psychology Quarterly 71.4, pp. 338–355. DOI: 10.1177/019027250807100404.
  • Platform economy

    Mandatory readings

  • Patrick Barwise and Leo Watkins (2018). “The Evolution of Digital Dominance: How and Why We Got to GAFA”. In: Digital Dominance: The Power of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Ed. by Martin Moore and Damian Tambini. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 21–49.
  • Martin Kenney and John Zysman (2016). “The rise of the platform economy”. In: Issues in Science and Technology 32.3, pp. 61–69.
  • Background readings

  • Julie E. Cohen (2017). “Law for the Platform Economy”. In: UC Davis Law Review 51.1, pp. 133–204.
  • Julie E. Cohen (2019). Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • David S. Evans and Richard Schmalensee (2016). Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  • Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian (1999). Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Presentations

  • Anupam Chander (2014). “How Law Made Silicon Valley”. In: Emory Law Journal 63.3, pp. 639–694.
  • Mara Ferreri and Romola Sanyal (2018). “Platform economies and urban planning: Airbnb and regulated deregulation in London”. In: Urban Studies 55.15, pp. 3353–3368. DOI: 10.1177/0042098017751982.
  • Kathleen Thelen (2018). “Regulating Uber: The Politics of the Platform Economy in Europe and the United States”. In: Perspectives on Politics 16.4, pp. 938–953. DOI: 10.1017/S1537592718001081.
  • Information environments and the public arena

    Mandatory readings

  • Andreas Jungherr, Gonzalo Rivero, and Daniel Gayo-Avello (2020). “The Flow of Political Information”. In: Retooling Politics: How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 30–68. DOI: 10.1017/9781108297820.002.
  • Andreas Jungherr, Gonzalo Rivero, and Daniel Gayo-Avello (2020). “Reaching People”. In: Retooling Politics: How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 69–102. DOI: 10.1017/9781108297820.003.
  • Background readings

  • Emily Bell et al. (2017). The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley reengineered journalism. New York: Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University. DOI: 10.7916/D8R216ZZ.
  • Eitan D. Hersh (2015). Hacking the Electorate: How Campaigns Perceive Voters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Philip M. Napoli (2019). Social Media and the Public Interest: Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • W. Russell Neuman (2016). The Digital Difference: Media Technology and the Theory of Communication Effects. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • James G. Webster (2014). The Marketplace of Attention: How Audiences Take Shape in a Digital Age. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Presentations

  • Dean Eckles, Brett R. Gordon, and Garrett A. Johnson (2018). “Field studies of psychologically targeted ads face threats to internal validity”. In: PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115.23, E5254–E5255. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1805363115.
  • Brent Kitchens, Steven L. Johnson, and Peter Gray (2020). “Understanding Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles: The Impact of Social Media on Diversification and Partisan Shifts in News Consumption”. In: MIS Quarterly 44.4, pp. 1619–1649. DOI: 10.25300/MISQ/2020/16371.
  • Sandra C. Matz et al. (2017). “Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital mass persuasion”. In: PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.48, pp. 12714–12719. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1710966114.
  • Byron Sharp, Nick Danenberg, and Steven Bellman (2018). “Psychological targeting”. In: PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115.34, E7890. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1810436115.
  • Data

    Mandatory readings

  • Marion Fourcade and Kieran Healy (2017). “Seeing like a market”. In: Socio-Economic Review 15.1, pp. 9–29. DOI: 10.1093/ser/mww033.
  • Background readings

  • Solon Barocas and Andrew D. Selbst (2016). “Big Data’s Disparate Impact”. In: California Law Review 104, pp. 671–732. DOI: 10.15779/Z38BG31.
  • Andreas Jungherr, Gonzalo Rivero, and Daniel Gayo-Avello (2020a). “Data in Politics”. In: Retooling Politics: How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 179–211. DOI: 10.1017/9781108297820.008.
  • Steffen Mau (2017). Das metrische Wir: Über die Quantifizierung des Sozialen. Berlin: Suhrkamp.
  • Andrea Mennicken and Wendy Nelson Espeland (2019). “What’s New with Numbers? Sociological Approaches to the Study of Quantification”. In: Annual Review of Sociology 35, pp. 223–245. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-073117-041343.
  • Jerry Z. Muller (2018). The Tyranny of Metrics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Presentations

  • Katherine C. Kellogg, Melissa A. Valentine, and Angèle Christin (2020). “Algorithms at Work: The New Contested Terrain of Control”. In: Academy of Management Annals 14.1, pp. 366–410. DOI: 10.5465/annals.2018.0174.
  • Fan Liang et al. (2018). “Constructing a Data-Driven Society: China’s Social Credit System as a State Surveillance Infrastructure”. In: Policy & Internet 10.4, pp. 415–453. DOI: 10.1002/poi3.183.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)

    Mandatory readings

  • Yavar Bathaee (2018). “The Artificial Intelligence Black Box and the Failure of Intent and Causation”. In: Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 31.2, pp. 879–938.
  • Ruha Benjamin (2019). “Assessing risk, automating racism”. In: Science 366.6464, pp. 421–422. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz3873.
  • Background readings

  • Meredith Broussard (2018). Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis (2019). Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust. New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Melanie Mitchell (2019). Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans. New York: Farrat, Straus and Giroux.
  • Shira Mitchell et al. (2021). “Algorithmic Fairness: Choices, Assumptions, and Definitions”. In: Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application 8, pp. 141–163. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-statistics-042720-125902.
  • Cathy O’Neil (2016). Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. New York: Crown Publishing Group.
  • Presentations

  • Jon Kleinberg et al. (2018). “Discrimination in the Age of Algorithms”. In: Journal of Legal Analysis 10, pp. 113–174. DOI: 10.1093/jla/laz001.
  • Sandra G. Mayson (2019). “Bias In, Bias Out”. In: The Yale Law Journal 128.8, pp. 2218–2300.
  • Data, AI, and the State

    Mandatory readings

  • Robert Brauneis and Ellen P. Goodman (2018). “Algorithmic Transparency for the Smart City”. In: Yale Journal & Technology 20, pp. 103–176.
  • Background readings

  • Virginia Eubanks (2018). Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Andrew Guthrie Ferguson (2017). The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement. New York: New York University Press.
  • Frank Pasquale (2015). The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Presentations

  • Sarah Brayne (2017). “Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing”. In: American Sociological Review 82.5, pp. 988–1008. DOI: 10.1177/0003122417725865.
  • Han-Wei Liu, Ching-Fu Lin, and Yu-Jie Chen (2019). “Beyond State v Loomis: artificial intelligence, government algorithmization and accountability”. In: International Journal of Law and Information Technology 27.2, pp. 122–141. DOI: 10.1093/ijlit/eaz001.
  • USA

    Mandatory readings

  • Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse M. Shapiro (2017). “Greater Internet use is not associated with faster growth in political polarization among US demographic groups”. In: PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.40, pp. 10612–10617. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706588114.
  • Markus Prior (2013). “Media and Political Polarization”. In: Annual Review of Political Science 16, pp. 101–127. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-polisci-100711-135242.
  • Background readings

  • David Karpf (2012). The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Daniel Kreiss (2012). Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Daniel Kreiss (2016). Prototype Politics: Technology-Intensive Campaigning and the Data of Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Victor Pickard (2020). Democracy without Journalism? Confronting the Misinformation Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190946753.001.0001.
  • Joe Trippi (2004). The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything. New York: Regan Books.
  • Presentations

  • Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier (2018). Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy. Boston, MA: The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
  • Daniel Kreiss and Shannon C. McGregor (2018). “Technology Firms Shape Political Communication: The Work of Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Google With Campaigns During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Cycle”. In: Political Communication 35.2, pp. 155–177. DOI: 10.1080/10584609.2017.1364814.
  • EU

    Mandatory readings

  • Christopher Kuner (2019). “The Internet and the global reach of EU law”. In: EU Law Beyond EU Borders: The Extraterritorial Reach of EU Law. Ed. by Marise Cremona and Joanne Scott. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 112–145.
  • Background readings

  • Anu Bradford (2020). The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman (2019). Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • James Q. Whitman (2004). “The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity Versus Liberty”. In: The Yale Law Journal 113.6, pp. 1151–1221.
  • Presentations

  • Jean-Marie Chenou and Roxana Radu (2019). “The “Right to Be Forgotten”: Negotiating Public and Private Ordering in the European Union”. In: Business & Society 58.1, pp. 74–102. DOI: 10.1177/0007650317717720.
  • Nikhil Kalyanpur and Abraham L. Newman (2019). “The MNC-Coalition Paradox: Issue Salience, Foreign Firms and the General Data Protection Regulation”. In: JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 57.3, pp. 448–467. DOI: 10.1111/jcms.12810.
  • China

    Mandatory readings

  • Hong Shen (2016). “China and global internet governance: toward an alternative analytical framework”. In: Chinese Journal of Communication 9.3, pp. 304–324. DOI: 10.1080/17544750.2016.1206028.
  • Background readings

  • Duncan Clark (2016). Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Rebecca A. Fannin (2019). Tech Titans of China: How China’s Tech Sector is Challenging the World by Innovating Faster, Working Harder & Going Global. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
  • Yu Hong (2017). Networking China: The Digital Transformation of the Chinese Economy. Springfield, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  • Kai-Fu Lee (2018). AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Jennifer Pan (2020). Welfare for Autocrats: How Social Assistance in China Cares for its Rulers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Edward Tse (2015). China’s Disruptos: How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent and Other Companies are Changing the Rules of Business. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.
  • Presentations

  • Yu Hong (2017b). “Reading the 13th Five-Year Plan: Reflections on China’s ICT Policy”. In: International Journal of Communication 11, pp. 1755–1774.
  • Jennifer Pan (2017). “How Market Dynamics of Domestic and Foreign Social Media Firms Shape Strategies of Internet Censorship”. In: Problems of Post-Communism 64.3-4, pp. 167–188. DOI: 10.1080/10758216.2016.1181525.
  • Hong Shen (2018). “Building a Digital Silk Road? Situating the Internet in China’s Belt and Road Initiative”. In: International Journal of Communication 12, pp. 2683–2701.
  • Digital geopolitics

    Mandatory readings

  • Paul Smart et al. (2019). Geopolitical Drivers of Personal Data: The Four Horsemen of the Datapocalypse. Southhampton: University of Southampton.
  • Background readings

  • Laura DeNardis (2020). The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World With No Off Switch. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Laura DeNardis, Derrick Cogburn, et al., eds. (2020). Researching Internet Governance: Methods, Frameworks, Futures. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. DOI:10.7551/mitpress/12400.001.0001.
  • Daniel W. Drezner, Henry Farrell, and Abraham L. Newman, eds. (2021). The Uses and Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
  • Nigel Inkster (2020). The Great Decoupling: China, America and the Struggle for Technological Supremacy. London: Hurst & Company.
  • Kieron O’Hara and Wendy Hall (2018). Four Internets: The Geopolitics of Digital Governance. CIGI Papers Series. Waterloo, ON: Centre for International Governance Innovation.
  • Presentations

  • Laura DeNardis, Gordon Goldstein, and Ambassador David A. Gross (2016). The Rising Geopolitics of Internet Governance: Cyber Sovereignty v. Distributed Governance. New York: Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).
  • Adam Segal (2021). “Huawei, 5G, and Weaponized Interdependence”. In: The Uses and Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence. Ed. by Daniel W. Drezner, Henry Farrell, and Abraham L. Newman. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, pp. 149–168.
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