Social Media and Participatory Culture - MSTU5001

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 30 (15)







The digital sphere has given voice and meeting spaces to communities and activist groups, enabling social action, art and change. It has also been used by reactionaries, nationalists and the far-right groups to amplify hate filled messages. Analysing platforms that may include Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Wikipedia, the module engages with concepts such as participatory and collaborative culture, sharing economies, democracy and surveillance.

Students will engage in sourcing, analysing and critiquing social media content by way of a Digital Portfolio. This work will be contextualised by an essay that situates students' multimedia exercises within key debates in online culture. To facilitate this, lectures and seminars will explore various case studies - from mainstream politicians’ use of social media in campaigning, to the intensification of hate speech in the cyber sphere, to the ethics of using unpaid journalists and the economy of sharing - in order to encourage students to engage critically with the relationship between politics, economics, personal expression and art making practices in the digital age.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Lectures and seminars: 30 hours
Independent Study: 270 hours
Total Study: 300 hours

Method of assessment

Digital Portfolio – 30%
Presentations - 30% (Presentation 1 – 10%; Presentation 2 – 10%: Presentation 3 – 10%)
Essay (2500-words) - 40%

Indicative reading

Cloudry, N., & Hepp, A. (2017) The Mediated Construction of Reality. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gerbaudo, P. (2012) Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism. London: Pluto Press.
Jane, E. (2017) Misogyny Online: A Short (and Brutish) History. Los Angeles: Sage.
Jenkins, H. et. al. (2015) Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce and Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Jenkins, H., & Ford, S. (2013) Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York: New York University Press.
Lindgren, S. (2017) Digital Media and Society. Los Angeles: Sage.
Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage.
Siapera, E. (2018) Understanding New Media: 2nd Edition. London: Sage.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of key theoretical approaches to the analysis of social media and user generated content.
- Demonstrate basic knowledge about key events, movements and figures in the digital age.
- Analyse a range of digital texts, taking consideration of issues of content, format and audience.
- Produce critically informed interpretations of social media texts.
- Critically analyse the ways in which different social groups may interact with digital communication practices.

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