Digital media are said to be changing political participation – in particular social media such as Twitter and Facebook are often seen as instruments in this (e.g. in the so-called Arab Spring, Brexit or the victory of Trump). The internet is also seen by many as a new kind of a ‘public sphere’ with promises of increased democratisation, active participation and access to political information, and the younger generations in particular are supposed to have become more politically active thanks to the Web. Others criticise these new platforms as facilitating ‘slacktivism’ – ‘feel-good’ activities for a cause that have little effect other than making the person feel good about themselves for having contributed to the cause (think of e.g. ‘liking’ on Facebook) – and for lack of constructive debate.
In this course we will address the relation between digital media and politics by looking at it from different angles. We will explore the relation between politics and media from a theoretical, historical, economic and societal perspective. We will focus on the rise of democratic societies in relation to mass media. By doing this, we will introduce concepts like democracy, universal human rights, privacy, press freedom, and introduce a specific understanding of politics, namely politics as a discursive battle for meaning in the media.
We will also look at how internet-based digital media (Web 2.0, social network sites...) reshape the political game for politicians and social movements. How do politicians use new media to gain votes and popularity? What effects do new media have on political activism? What is the Alt-Right and how do they use new media? What is Black Lives Matter? These and many more questions will be answered. Last but not least, we will take a look at the political effects of the (commercial) politics of these new media.
- Lempert & Silverstein, Creatures of politics. (the introduction), 2012.
- Thompson, J.B., The new visibility, 2005.
- Maly, I., forthcoming) New media, new resistance and mass media. A digital ethnographic analysis of the Hart – Boven – Hard movement in Belgium. In Papaioannou, T. & : Media Representations of Anti-Austerity Protests in the EU: Grievances, identity and agency., London: Routledge..
- Maly, I., 'Scientific’ nationalism. N-VA and the discursive battle for the Flemish nation. Nations and Nationalism, Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2016, Pages 266–286., 2016.
- Maly, I., Why Trump won, 2016.
- Publications for this course on Diggit Magazine