Digital Society

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
29 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA LP33 Communications and Digital Culture,
BA LP34 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Placement Year),
BA P300 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Foundation Year),
BA PL33 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Year Abroad),
BA P550 Journalism and Criminology,
BA P551 Journalism and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA P552 Journalism and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA P540 Journalism and Sociology,
BA P541 Journalism and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA P542 Journalism and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP10 English Language with Media Communication,
BA QP11 English Language with Media Communication (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP12 English Language with Media Communication (Including Placement Year)

Module description

In this module, we will undertake a sustained critical engagement with the era of personalised media consumption currently being shaped through digital technologies.

'Does technology determine history?'
'Can games teach us about power?'
'Does software shape society?'

Students will be encouraged to evaluate the most recent developments in media technologies and to interrogate the various uses and practices that surround them from a wide-ranging sociological perspective. As such, the module introduces students to a broad range of social phenomena arising across the globe through the application and conceptualisation of digital technologies - from the sociology of the virtual body and cyborg sociology, to the rise of cybercrime and identity theft, from the utopian ideals of virtual democracy to the Orwellian nightmare of the surveillance society, from the free software movement to the hacker ethic and pirate politics.

Finally, all students will be expected to design and maintain a blog as part of their assessment. Though you can blog about anything you want, you will be encouraged to design a blog that concentrates on a particular subject and to produce content that is journalistic, for example: political blogs, health blogs, travel blogs, gardening blogs, fashion blogs, education blogs, music blogs, etc.

Module aims

The aim of this module is to situate digital media within the context of dynamic social interactions in a complex and rapidly changing world. Students will therefore be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of the role being played by human-machine relationships in processes of contemporary cultural change.

Module learning outcomes

The course explores such questions as:

• What is the relationship between computer mediated communication and the social world?
• What are the implications of ‘digital lifestyles’ for the worlds of work and leisure in the 21st century?
• What are the key disjunctures/continuities between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ media and wider social systems?
• What is at stake for all of us in the debates surrounding electronic media?
• What is the ‘information society’?

Students will also be introduced to a broad range of related theories and concepts:

• Post-industrialism
• Informatisation
• Virtual reality
• The network society

Module information

The assessment below is showing for 2019-20, the assessment for 2020-21 will be updated in September.

Lecture 1 week 2 {Introductions} Digital Britain
Lecture 2 week 3 {Continuity and Change} Digital Media and Social Theory
Lecture 3 week 4 {Digital Change} The Post-Industrial/Network Society
Lecture 4 week 5 {Digital Capitalism} The Digital Divide
Lecture 5 week 6 {Digital Surveillance} The Surveillance State
Lecture 6 week 7 {Digital Politics} CyberDemocracy
Lecture 7 week 8 {Digital Politics} Alternative and Activist Digital Media
Lecture 8 week 9 {Digital Bodies} Cyberculture and Posthumanism
Lecture 9 week 10 {Digital Literacy} E-learning and Online risks
Lecture 10 week 11 {Summary Week} Essay surgeries
Lecture 11 week 16 {Introductions} Technology and Society SCOT Meets ANT
Lecture 12 week 17 {Continuity and Change} Whats New about New Media?
Lecture 13 week 18 {Digital Change} Convergence
Lecture 14 week 19 {Digital Capitalism} Copyright / Creativity / Commons
Lecture 15 week 20 {Digital Politics} The Hacker Ethic and Pirate Politics
Lecture 16 week 22 {Digital Surveillance} Software Sorting of Everyday Life
Lecture 17 week 23 {Digital Bodies} Cybernetics and the Informational Human
Lecture 18 week 24 {Digital Literacy} Interactivity / Interfaces / Gaming
Lecture 19 week 25 {Summary Week} Essay surgeries

Learning and teaching methods

A range of teaching and learning methods will be used, including one-hour weekly lectures, seminars and personal tutorials (as required). Lectures are used to introduce an overview of the key theoretical issues and debates. Seminars provide an opportunity to review the lecture material through illustrative readings, group discussions and activities. Personal tutorials will provide students with guidance about and feedback on assessed work and any other academic problems you are encountering on the module.


  • Graham, Elaine L. (2002) Representations of the post/human: monsters, aliens and others in popular culture, Manchester: Manchester University Press. vol. Manchester studies in religion, culture, and gender
  • Steve Matthewman. (2011) Technology and social theory, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. vol. Traditions in social theory
  • Castells, Manuel. (1997) 'An introduction to the information age', in City. vol. 2 (7) , pp.6-16
  • Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich,
  • Donna Haraway. (2001) 'A Manifesto for Cyborgs', in Reading digital culture, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. vol. Keyworks in cultural studies
  • Winner, Langdon. (1997-09-01) 'Cyberlibertarian myths and the prospects for community', in ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society. vol. 27 (3) , pp.14-19
  • Coleman, E. Gabriella; Golub, Alex. (2008-09) 'Hacker Practice: Moral genres and the cultural articulation of liberalism.', in Anthropological Theory. vol. 8 (3) , pp.255-277
  • Livingstone, S. (2008) 'Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenagers' use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression', in New Media & Society. vol. 10 (3) , pp.393-411
  • Gane, Nicholas; Beer, David. (2008) New media: the key concepts, Oxford: Berg. vol. The key concepts, 1747-6550
  • Coleman, S. (2005) 'New mediation and direct representation: reconceptualizing representation in the digital age', in New Media & Society. vol. 7 (2) , pp.177-198
  • Bell, Daniel. (c1976) The coming of post-industrial society: a venture in social forecasting, New York: Basic Books. vol. Harper colophon books
  • CMA Charter,
  • Harding, Luke. (2014) The Snowden files: the inside story of the world's most wanted man, London: Guardian.
  • Phillips, Whitney. (©2015) This is why we can't have nice things: mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  • Peters, B. (2009) 'And lead us not into thinking the new is new: a bibliographic case for new media history', in New Media & Society. vol. 11 (1-2) , pp.13-30
  • Dan Schiller. (2000) Digital capitalism: networking the global market system, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Papacharissi, Z. (2002) 'The virtual sphere: The internet as a public sphere', in New Media & Society. vol. 4 (1) , pp.9-27
  • Sarah L. Holloway; Gill Valentine. (2003) Cyberkids: children in the information age, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Atton, Chris. (c2004) An alternative Internet, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Dovey, Jon; Kennedy, Helen W. (2006) Game cultures: computer games as new media, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Zygmunt Bauman; David Lyon. (2013) Liquid surveillance: a conversation, Cambridge: Polity Press. vol. Polity conversations series
  • BIS/DCMS. (2009) Digital Britain Final Report., pp.1-25
  • Merrin, William. (2009) 'Media Studies 2.0: upgrading and open-sourcing the discipline', in Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture. vol. 1 (1) , pp.17-34
  • Paolo Gerbaudo. (2012) Tweets and the streets: social media and contemporary activism, London: Pluto Press.
  • Jonathan Hardy. (2008) Western media systems, London: Routledge. vol. Communication and society
  • Tim Jordan. (2009) 'Hacking and power: Social and technological determinism in the digital age', in First Monday. vol. 14 (7)

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    25% 
Coursework   Essay 2    25% 
Coursework   Blog    25% 
Practical   Presentation     25% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr James Allen-Robertson, email:
Dr Michael Bailey, email:
Dr Michael Bailey, Dr James Allen-Robertson
Jane Harper, Student Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052



External examiner

Dr Monika Krause
London School of Economics
Available via Moodle
Of 50 hours, 42 (84%) hours available to students:
8 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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