Digital media, moralities and cultures

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 19:00 – 21:50

Lecture venue

Course description

The growth of digital media is fundamentally reshaping our culture. But how can we start to analyse and understand these changes sociologically and anthropologically? This course will attempt to address this question through an examination of the issues underpinning a wide array of digital communications technologies.

Morality provides a powerful lens through which we can understanding the social impacts of technology by examining how morality, social norms and behaviours are shaping technology use, and how technology is in turn redefining various moral frameworks in society.

A broad range of existing theoretical standpoints for understanding digital media will be introduced. These perspectives will be critiqued and challenged through reference to existing case studies and on-going innovative research projects from different academics and practitioners. This course adopting a truly global outlook, examining case studies from around the world. We also ask how Asian perspectives and methodologies might help to contribute to academic debates.

You will be helped to ground the theories of digital media in everyday life by undertaking your own digital media research. Guest talks from a number of academics and practitioners will also help to complement the course.

Course learning outcomes

  • Describe key concepts and theories for examining digital media and its cultural impacts.

  • Explain varying utopian and dystopian prognosis regarding the potentials of digital media and discuss their implications.

  • Apply different theoretical perspectives to analyse the moral implications of digital media in different spheres of everyday life and society.

  • Cooperate in groups to plan, execute and analyse practical research exercises examining the moral dimensions of digital media.

  • Critically assess the utility of theoretical concepts for understanding the moral and ethical implications of digital media in areas such as government, law enforcement, industry and society.


Key reading presentation20%
Media and morality research exercises30%
End of term essay paper50%

Required reading

Livingstone, S. & Sefton-Green, J. (2016) The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. New York: New York University Press

Maurer, B. (2015) How Would You Like to Pay?: How Technology Is Changing the Future of Money. Durham: Duke University Press.

Miller et al., (2016) How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press.

Recommended reading

Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of age in Second Life: an anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Botler, J. D., & Grusin, R. (Ed.). (1999). Remediation: Understanding new media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Bruns, A. (2008). Blogs, wikipedia, second life, and beyond: From production to produsage. New York: Peter Lang.

Ching, C. C. & Foley, B. J. (Ed.). (2012). Constructing the self in a digital world. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fuery, K. (2008). New media: Culture and image. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gere, C. (2002). Digital culture. London: Reaktion Books.

Green, L. (2010). The internet: An introduction to new media. London: A&C Black Publishers Ltd.

Horst, H. A. & Miller, D. (Eds.). (2012). Digital Anthropology. London: Berg.

Lievrouw, L. A., & Livingstone, S. (2002). Handbook of new media: Social shaping and consequences of ICTs. London: Routledge.

Lomborg, S. (Ed.) (2014). Social media, social genres: making sense of the ordinary. New York: Routledge.

Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Negroponte, N. (1996). Being digital. New York: Knopf.

Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Williams, R. (2003[1975]). Television: Technology and cultural form. London: Routledge.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

This course beautifully combined theoretical concepts and real-life experiences, allowing me a whole new understanding of new media and digital culture. No matter whether you are a ‘real’ or ‘virtual’ soul, you will find your place here!

– Dor, year2 MSocSc Media Culture & Creative Cities student