Protest and Publics in the Network Society

Module code: MS7102 

Module co-ordinator: Stefania Vicari

This module is relevant to you if you are interested in investigating digital media, particularly protest, activism and/or online debate. We will examine the evolving relationships between media and public opinion and specifically learn how different social media are used for public discourses and actions.

By reviewing relevant perspectives on social networks and the public sphere, the theoretical part of the module will look at the role of digital media (from email to social media) in public opinion and protest from the 1990s onwards.

The practical part of the module will specifically focus on contemporary online debate relevant to different cases of protest – from the US Black Lives Matter to the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement – and guide you through the analysis of social media use. You will also get the opportunity to conduct a small-scale social media research focused on Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Weibo, that will prepare you for your final dissertation project.

Topics covered

  • Public sphere(s) and counterpublics
  • Protest and its 'communication ecology'
  • Social networks and digital networks
  • Connectivity


  • 5 two-hour seminars


  • Computer based assignment (40%)
  • Essay, 2,000 words (60%)