Postgraduate Course: Technologies of Civic Participation (PGSP11390)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
|Course type||Online Distance Learning
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||TCPs have been defined as distributed, networked, inter-operable, digital innovations that facilitate the open discovery and sharing of information and the organisation of individuals for collective action. The focus of this course is on understanding the current and potential uses of new TCPs by citizens and policy-makers in responding to mundane, everyday threats to social resilience (e.g. street crime, problems with community service delivery, environment, health, etc.), and appreciating how these activities (e.g. monitoring, informing, reporting) are linked to everyday life in the community. Through access to participants of the Reading the Riots Project, an in-depth case study will be developed to explore how the police, other organisations and individuals used Twitter as they responded to this event. The course also includes delivery of a hands-on tutorial on use of Remote Event Analysis (mapping conflicts, disasters, elections and other events) with Online and Social Media Data. This 10 credits course provides students with skills to (1) compare and interpret different visions (optimistic and critical) on technologies of civic participation; (2) understand in detail the difference in their use when put to the service of citizen or adopted by policy makers (3) monitor social media data streams by using social media monitoring tools.
TCPs have been defined as distributed, networked, inter-operable, digital innovations that facilitate the open discovery and sharing of information and the organisation of individuals for collective action. The focus of this course is on understanding the current and potential uses of new TCPs by citizens and policy-makers in responding to mundane, everyday threats to social resilience (e.g. street crime, problems with community service delivery, environment, health, etc.), and appreciating how these activities (e.g. monitoring, informing, reporting) are linked to everyday life in the community. Through access to the "Reading the Riots Project", an in-depth case study will be developed to explore how the police, other organisations and individuals used Twitter as they responded to this event. The course also includes delivery of a hands-on tutorial on use of the Natural Language Toolkit developed at Edinburgh University by Professor Ewan Klein to collect and process Twitter data for mapping conflicts, disasters, elections and other events.
1. Visions and Realities of Technologies of Civic Participation
New ICT capabilities have given a new life to visions that Technologies of Civic Participation will revitalise democratic processes and governance (eg Chun et al., 2010) In this vision, rapid and potentially disruptive technological change (Manyika et al., 2013) collapses distance and opens up opportunities to redefine the boundaries of civil society and increase its power and influence. In this optimistic account, social media (eg Facebook, Twitter) provide a digital public agora for local and wider community discussion; the Internet of Things (IoT) (Gubbi et al., 2013) enables remote environmental monitoring; "grass roots" community tools (eg mysociety.org, TheyWorkForYou, talkaboutlocal, YourTown, a growing range of apps from diverse sources) enable citizens to report problems to relevant agencies or track the activities of their political representatives; crowdsourcing enables large scale volunteer effort to be mobilised (eg citizen science) and at short notice (eg flashmobs); cloud computing puts cheap, scalable computer and data hosting in the hands of a wider range of users; and policy initiatives such as open data, not only open up government datasets, but also enable citizens to request the release of previously unpublished data. There is mixed evidence to date of how the potential of new technologies of civic participation may be realized. We explore the example of social media use by Norwegian local authorities. Only a minority of authorities used social media to develop new forms of public engagement (in contrast to their universal emphasis on delivering services more efficiently). And in these cases, public participation in these online fora fell below expectations. This case highlights that technical capacity alone will not deliver new practices.
2. Putting new tools to the service of citizens
In this week we will analyse whether there is evidence that citizens and communities may be represented and empowered or disempowered through the use of TCPs. The precise character of the form of social relational ordering through TCPs 'as the local world unfolds' will be a key concern. Through discussion of theoretically positions, and real life case studies, students will begin to learn the lessons for realising promises of citizen and community representativeness and empowerment through TCPs, assess its potential impact and understand its wider implications for civil society, citizen engagement, agency and deliberative democracy.
3. Case Study: Reading the Riots
In this week we will host a guest lecture from members of the Reading the Riots project: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/series/reading-the-riots
The guest lecture will explore in technical detail how social media monitoring tools have been applied around the riots to explore how the police, other organisations and individuals used Twitter as they responded to this events.
4. Tutorial: Remote Event Analysis
Companies and media organizations are increasingly seeking ways to mine Twitter for information about what people think and feel about their products and services. While there has been a fair amount of research on how sentiments are expressed in genres such as online reviews and news articles, how sentiments are expressed given the informal language and message-length constraints of microblogging has been much less studied. Features such as automatic part-of-speech tags and resources such as sentiment lexicons have proved useful for sentiment analysis in other domains, but will they also prove useful for sentiment analysis in Twitter? In this tutorial, we begin to investigate this question.
5. Student Presentations
During this week, course organiser will moderate students presentation. The presentation topic is the following: "Give an example of research designed using digital data".
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
||Block 2 (Sem 1)
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Weekly blogs: 10%
2000 word essay: 60%
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Apply conceptual thinking to key topics of wide social relevance relating to civil society, activism and digital technology.
- Synthesise a variety of theoretical and empirical material from different disciplinary perspectives in order to tackle contemporary social issues relating to civic technologies.
- Communicate complex ideas pertaining to the political and economic dimensions of digital technologies.
- Work with new methods to capture and analyse internet data streams.
|Boczowski, P. (2010). The Divergent Online News Preferences of Journalists and Readers. Communication of the ACM, 53(11), 24-26.|
Bright, N., Nicholls, T. (2014). The Life and Death of Political News: Measuring the Impact fo the Audience Agenda Using Online Data. Social Science Computer Review, 32(2), 170-181.
Bruns, A. (2006). Wikinews: The Next Generation of Online News? Scan Journal 3(1).
Chadwick, A. (2008). Web 2.0: New challenges for the study of e-democracy in an era of informational exuberance. I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society (ISJLP) 5: 9.
Chadwick, A. (2011). Explaining the Failure of an Online Citizen Engagement Initiative: The Role of Internal Institutional Variables, Journal of Information Technology & Politics 8, no. 1: 21-40.
Chun, S.A., Shulman, S., Sandoval, R., & Hovy, E. (2010). Government 2.0: Making connections between citizens, data and government, Information Polity, 15, no.1: 1-9.
Dunleavy, Patrick (2010) New worlds in political science. Political Studies, 58 (1). pp. 239-265. ISSN 0032-3217
Edwards, A., Housley, W., Williams, M.L. Sloan, L., & Williams, M. (2013). Digital Social Research and the Sociological Imagination: Surrogacy, Augmentation and Re-orientation, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 16:2.
Lansdall-Welfare, T, Lampos, V & Cristianini, N (2012), Effects of the Recession on Public Mood in the UK. in: Mining Social Network Dynamics (MSND) session on Social Media Applications in News and Entertainment (SMANE) at WWW '12. ACM, pp. 1221-1226.
Liste Munoz, Lucia Munoz; de Soysa, Indra. (2011) The Blog vs. Big Brother: New and Old Information Technology and Political Repression, 1980-2006. International Journal of Human Rights. volum 15 (8).
M. Mendoza, B. Poblete, and C. Castillo. (2010) Twitter under crisis: Can we trust what we rt In 1st Workshop on Social Media Analytics (SOMA 10). ACM Press, July 2010.
Procter, R., Crump, J., Karstedt, S., Voss, A., & Cantijoch, M. (2013b). Reading the riots: what were the police doing on Twitter Policing and Society, (ahead-of-print), 1-24.
Link to the missed call campaign:
Recent Internet, Policy & Politics Conference:
Us initiative to explore use of TCPs in Government:
Policy and Internet Special issue on the potentials and challenges of big data: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/poi3.v5.2/issuetoc
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Morgan Currie
Tel: (0131 6)50 6394
|Course secretary||Ms Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205