Activism and Protest in the Information Age

Module code: MS3022

Module co-ordinator: Dr Stefania Vicari

This module examines the role of digital media in contemporary forms of activism and protest in both democratic countries and authoritarian regimes.

We will discuss the role of digital media in protest actions and activism and examine whether social media are becoming 'powerful' tools for civic engagement and non-institutional political action. Finally, we will focus on contemporary cases of social movements and uprisings – like the Arab spring, the US Black Lives Matter, and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement – and discuss different forms of digitally-enhanced activism like feminist and health activism.

Topics covered

  • Public sphere(s) and counterpublics
  • Perspectives on human adoption of technology 
  • Cyber paradigms, or to what extent do digital media ease democratisation processes?
  • How counterpublics of different sorts (e.g., feminist groups, activist patients, racial minorities, environmental activists) have benefitted from digital media 
  • Advantages and disadvantages of alternative media activism for contemporary protest movements
  • Freedom of expression, Internet freedom and Internet censorship
  • The role of social media in contemporary protest movements compared to previous forms of net-based activism
  • Connective cultures


  • 10 two-hour lecture/seminars


  • Essay, 3,000 words (50%)
  • Report, 3,000 words (50%)