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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Media and Protest (PLIT10143)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will enable students to broaden their understanding of the complex relationships between different kinds of media and political protest. It will address key critical debates about the mainstream and 'alternative' media coverage of protests, as well as the ways in which different kinds of social media platforms and apps have re/shaped the political practices of protestors. The course has a transnational focus, and covers key issues such as anti-globalisation, pro-democracy and climate change protests, as well as more fluid forms of mediated resistance to state, race and gender-based violence.
Course description Students will begin by considering the ways in which mainstream media have historically covered protests, and why it was initially hoped that online and social media would create, not just more positive media portrayals, but also more progressive forms of political practice. They will then go on to examine how these 'new' forms of media have shaped the emergence of alternative journalism, such as that carried out by anti-globalisation protestors, as well as the organising and amplification strategies of other protestors, such as those involved in pro-democracy and climate change demonstrations.

However, they will also consider political protests which are entirely mediated through online and social media, which are often critiqued as 'clicktivism'. This may include reflecting on the mixed effects of video virals, such as Kony2012, the YouTube archives produced by Syrian protestors, the 'hacktivism' performed by groups like Anonymous, and hashtag campaigns, such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Finally, students will critically examine the extent to which mediated protest can serve progressive purposes, given the complex structuring of online and social media platforms, in relation to party, state and economic elites.

The course will be taught over 10 weeks involving a weekly lecture (one hour) and a weekly seminar (one hour). The seminar will be student-led and will encourage reflection and critical engagement with the readings, theories and case studies. Seminars will involve a range of different activities, including individual and group presentations, small and large group discussions and debates. In their independent learning, students will explore a media-rich LEARN site, as well as set and recommended critical readings.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. As numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically analyse principal theories and critical debates about the role of mainstream, alternative and social media in different forms of protest.
  2. Identify which theories are most applicable to particular cases and construct critical arguments about them in relation to particular texts or practices.
  3. Develop an awareness of different ICTs, and reflect on their affordances, opportunities and risks for protestors.
  4. Construct detailed arguments about how the various political practices involved in digital activism are shaped by country-specific contexts, as well as being 'in dialogue' with one another globally.
Reading List
Boyle, Karen (2019) #MeToo, Weinstein and Feminism. London: Palgrave
Fenton, Natalie (2016) Digital, Political, Radical. London: Polity Press
Goode, Luke (2015) Anonymous and the Political Ethos of Hacktivism. Popular Communication 13 (1): 74-86
Rickford, Russell (2016) Black Lives Matter: Towards a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle. New Labor Forum 25 (1) 34-42

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will become familiar with a variety of different ICT applications, and the ways in each are used to communicate by protestors, their supporters, and journalists. They'll develop understandings of ethical and professional decision-making, concerning some of the risks which different kinds of media pose to protestors and others. This will include familiar with the ethical, political and economic considerations involved in digital anonymity, surveillance and the kinds of data generated by media use. They'll have the opportunity to refine their ability to research autonomously, as well as with peers.

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Kate Wright
Tel: (0131 6)51 1480
Course secretaryMr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001
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