The main objective of this course is to provide the fundamental tools for critically reflecting on digital media, their historical roots, their changing nature, their relationship with traditional media and familiarize students with the main theories and concepts in the debate on the digital society. In addition to the historical and theoretical reflections on the topic, basic analytical tools for the study of digital campaigns will be illustrated presenting recent cases. The course adopts sociology of communication as a privileged lens for analyzing the relationship between digital media and society in the constant dialectic between technological determinism and social constructivism. The course will focus in particular on the relationship between the digital and classic areas of sociological reflection such as culture, identity, inequality and participation. On a practical level, successful cases as well as examples of failure of some technological innovations will be discussed devoting particular attention to the processes of social appropriation and shaping.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course students should have acquired the following skills: ability to critically discuss the concept of "new" media and to recognize the "founding myths" of the internet; knowledge of the complex relation between traditional and digital media in the "hybrid" media system; mastery of the main theories elaborated in the study of "Computer-Mediated Communication" and the "Network Society"; historical knowledge of the main phases of internet development with particular reference to the digitalization of analogue media (changes in production, distribution and consumption models) and to the distinctive features of digital media; ability to reflect critically on the relationship between digital media, personal identity and sociability; familiarity with the different dimensions and interpretative hypotheses of the digital divide; understanding of the changes affecting political participation in the digital public sphere with particular attention to post-media campaigns. The final exam aims to verify the expected learning outcomes in relation to: knowledge and understanding of the main theories developed in the debate on the digital society, critical presentation of approaches, concepts and empirical results related to the topics discussed during the course.
Lesson period: Third trimester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
The course introduces digital media historically identifying the main elements of continuity and rupture with respect to traditional media, highlighting their roots in the past as well as their constant evolution and ephemeral nature. Furthermore, the course introduces the main sociological theories related to digital media, their consequences in terms of individual and collective identities, emerging cultures, inequalities and participatory styles. Finally, the course focuses on the change of electoral campaigns at the time of networked politics, highlighting the growing use of professional, scientific and data-driven campaigning methods.
Prerequisites for admission
The knowledge acquired by the student who attended the first year of the degree program in Communication and Society facilitates the understanding of concepts and theories covered in the course of Digital Media. The course of Sociology and Culture (1st year) is propaedeutic to the course of Digital Media.
Frontal lessons encouraging student involvement in discussions on topical issues related to the course content.
Books for the examination:
Stella, R., Riva, C., Scarcelli, C.M., Drusian, M., 2014, Sociologia dei new media, Torino, UTET.
Balbi, G., Magaudda, P., 2014, Storia dei media digitali, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
Cepernich, C. 2017, Le campagne elettorali al tempo della networked politics, Roma-Bari, Laterza.-
Additional materials can be retrieved on the course website on the Ariel platform.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination takes place in written form with open questions that are required to be answered in a few lines. Two questions will be asked for each exam text. The evaluation of the answers will be carried out taking into consideration: synthesis, clarity and argumentative quality, exhaustiveness and competence in the use of specialistic terminology.