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Cybersocieties: Understanding technology as global change

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 2.30pm - 4.20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

As evidenced by a wide range of fundamental social, cultural, political and economic transformations, the world today is becoming increasingly globalized. Within this environment, it is essential that we examine how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is directing and redefining what it means to live in a “global society”.

The melding of technology and globalization has become the touchstone of the new millennium and it is impossible to discuss the impact and significance of one without the other. In short, these dual revolutions are shaping each other and, through combined forces, directing the way we live, learn, work and socialize.

This interdisciplinary course examines how ICT allows for high-speed global access – making it possible to instantly connect to anyone and anywhere – and how this immediate access has created a nexus of social, cultural, economic and political implications for everyone.

The course offers students an opportunity to critically evaluate not only how globalization and ICT have revolutionized the way we live, but also how this new environment uniquely situates them to, in turn, direct many of these changes. Within this context, the course will ask: What kind of global society are we heading toward? Who should participate in deciding the future? How will the “big” decisions be made and by whom?

The course also requires students to reflect critically on their own uses of technology and how today’s ‘net generation’ is confronted with global technologies that are, at once, both constraining and empowering. As such, students will be inspired to not only broaden their interest and understanding of globalization, but develop a position as informed global citizens and articulate the impact of technology on all human endeavors.

Since 2017, the course teachers have incorporated the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the course materials and the final video project. Informed by cross-disciplinary knowledge, students enrolled in this course will have a chance to brainstorm practical solutions to the most pressing global crises and technology-driven problems. Selected examples are showcased on the UN ESBN YET’s official website: https://www.connectyet.org/initiative-cybersocieties.html

These videos were made by students taking the course CCGL9008: Cybersocieties: Understanding Technology as Global Change as part of their coursework. More info:




Course learning outcomes

On completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Differentiate and integrate the key theories, concepts and issues relating to globalization and ICT.
  • Apply key concepts and theories framing the interface of globalization and ICT to their everyday experiences.
  • Demonstrate a keen understanding of the interconnectedness of the world by critically evaluating films, websites, video clips, internet media, and other sources.
  • Explore and apply a multi-cultural perspective of global citizenship and the duties and responsibilities associated with global membership.
  • Express a critical understanding of the digital divide debate and understand how both the “haves” and “have nots” of technology are simultaneously benefited and limited by ICT.

Study load

ActivitiesNumber of Hours
Reading / Self-study20
Assessment: Essay / Report writing30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation)40
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation)8


Group YouTube project/presentation40%
Second Life experiential portfolio30%
In-class test20%
Tutorial critical reflections and discussion10%

Required reading

Boyd, D. (2008). Why youth (heart) social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, identity, and digital media (pp. 119-142). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Gottschalk, S. (2010). The presentation of avatars in Second Life: Self and interaction in social virtual spaces. Symbolic Interaction, 33(4), 501-525.

Lewis, J., & West, A. (2009). “Friending”: London-based undergraduates’ experience of Facebook. New Media & Society, 11(7), 1209-1229.

Qiang, X. (2011). The battle for the Chinese Internet. Journal of Democracy, 22(2), 47-61.

Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 6(3), 341-362.

Wood, N., & Ward, S. (2010). Stigma, secrets, and the human condition: Seeking to remedy alienation in PostSecret’s digitally mediated environment. Symbolic Interaction, 33(4), 578-602.

Yar, M. (2006). Political hacking. Cybercrime and Society (pp.45-62). London: Sage.

Recommended reading

Barber, B. R. (2002). Beyond Jihad vs. McWorld: On terrorism and the new democratic realism. The Nation, 274(2), 11.

Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Castells, M. (2001). The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, business, and society.  Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, remediation, bricolage: Considering principal components of a digital culture. The Information Society, 22, 63-75.

Deuze, M. (2007). Convergence culture in creative industry. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(2), 243-252.

Ellwood, W. (2001). The no-nonsense guide to globalization. Oxford: New Internationalist.

Fernback, J. (2007). Beyond the diluted community concept: A symbolic interactionist perspective on online social relations. New Media & Society, 9(1), 49-69.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century(1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Gershon, I. (2010). Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over new media. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Gunkel, D. (2003). Second thoughts: Toward a critique of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 5(4), 499-522.

Haas, S. M., Irr, M. E., Jennings, N. A., & Wagner, L. M. (2011). Communicating thin: A grounded model of online negative enabling support groups in the pro-anorexia movement. New Media & Society, 13(1), 40-57.

Hughes, C. (2002). China and the globalization of ICTs. New Media & Society, 4(2), 205-224.

Jenkins, H. (2004). The cultural logic of media convergence. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 33-43

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.

Kahn, R., & Kellner, D. (2004). New media and Internet activism: From the “Battle of Seattle” to blogging. New Media & Society, 6(1), 87-95.

Lee, J., & Lee, H. (2010). The computer-mediated communication network: Exploring the linkage between the online community and social capital. New Media & Society, 12(5), 711-727.

Lindgren, S., & Lundström, R. (2011). Pirate culture and hacktivist mobilization: The cultural and social protocols of #WikiLeaks on Twitter. New Media & Society, 13(6), 999-1018.

Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media & Society, 10(3), 393-411.

Magnet, S. (2007). Feminist sexualities, race and the Internet: An investigation of suicidegirls.com. New Media & Society, 9(4), 577-602.

Marwick, A., & Boyd, D. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114-133.

Mehra, B., Merkel, C., & Bishop, A. P. (2004). The Internet for empowerment of minority and marginalized users. New Media & Society, 6(6), 781-802.

Miller, D. (2011). Tales from Facebook. Cambridge: Polity.

Miller, V. (2011). Understanding digital culture. London: SAGE.

Robinson, L. (2007). The cyber-self: The self-ing project goes online, symbolic interaction in the digital age. New Media & Society, 9(1), 93-110.

Sassi, S. (2005). Cultural differentiation or social segregation? Four approaches to the digital divide. New Media & Society, 7(5), 684-700.

Stiglitz, J. E. (2006). Making globalization work (1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Taylor, P. (2005). From hackers to hacktivists: Speed bumps on the global superhighway? New Media & Society, 7(5), 625-646.

Turkle, S. (1996). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Vandebosch, H., & Van Cleemput, K. (2009). Cyberbullying among youngsters: Profiles of bullies and victims. New Media & Society, 11(8), 1349-1371.

Vrooman, S. (2002). The art of invective: Performing identity in cyberspace. New Media & Society, 4(1), 51-70.

Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Yang, G. (2008). Contention in cyberspace. In K. J. O’Brien (Ed.), Popular protest in China (pp. 126-143). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Yang, G. (2009). The power of the Internet in China: Citizen activism online. New York: Columbia University Press.

Yar, M. (2006). Cybercrime and society. London: Sage.

Zhao, S. (2005). The digital self: Through the looking glass of telecopresent others. Symbolic Interaction, 38(3), 387-405.

Zhou, X. (2009). The political blogosphere in China: A content analysis of the blogs regarding the dismissal of Shanghai leader Chen Liangyu. New Media & Society, 11(6), 1003-1022.

Course co-ordinator and teachers