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Social Media and Democracy - SIMS59


Explore social media's role in revolutionising access to information, particularly in the political realm, and its inevitable position as part of the democratic process today. How have these new forms of spreading information and debate impacted democracy across the world?


Course content

Social media has changed the preconditions for obtaining and assessing information and talking about politics. These changes entail extensive challenges for representative democracy and, more generally, democratic dialogue. Over the past few decades, there has been a discussion that connects social media to a number of different perceived problems such as political polarisation, political populism, hate speech, manipulation, disinformation, mental illness, and, in general, the difficulties of maintaining a sustainable, democratic communication society.

On the other hand, it has long been hoped that social media could lead to deepened political participation, a more equal political debate and better possibilities for political organisation and mobilisation. This course takes a unified approach to the current knowledge situation and provides advanced insight into social media as a phenomenon and into the mechanisms that influence interaction between social media, users, different actors and political outcomes.

The research concerning these issues is based partly on established theoretical perspectives and methods, and partly on attempts to develop new paradigms in which both theoretical and methodological approaches are emerging. An important theme in the course is therefore orientation in the research situation (state of the art) and a critical discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of different research approaches with special emphasis on theoretical and methodological assumptions that shape knowledge development.

The starting points for the course are democratic theory, theories of social media and current research and debate about democratic development in the hybrid media society including intersectional approaches. During the course, the students therefore specialise in a number of specific theories of social media and democracy, including deliberative democracy, (social) media logic, media effects, selective exposure, the spiral of silence, normalisation and reinforcement hypotheses about political participation, and relevant ethical principles and issues.

The students are encouraged to try to combine the discussed theoretical traditions and research fields in a systematic way in order to develop an independent line in both academic and practically applicable contexts.

Online course platform

This course uses Canvas as the online course platform. The course platform will be opened two weeks before the course begins to all students who were accepted. Here you will be able to access literature, assignments, announcements, as well as participate in discussions and communicate with teachers. 


The course schedule can be found under the course information on the right. Please note that the final version of the schedule will be made available four weeks before the course begins, and changes may occur until that point. A more detailed schedule will be available on the course platform on Canvas.

About the course

Next course period:
2024-11-01 to 2024-12-03

Course schedule:
List view | Calendar view

Course syllabus

Course literature