Sociological Theory in the Digital Age

Period of duration of course
Course info
Number of course hours
Number of hours of lecturers of reference
Number of hours of supplementary teaching
CFU 20

Type of exam



Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


Course format:

The course has a seminar format. Participants are asked to read the assigned texts and discuss them in the class.. The course is divided into seven seminars according to the timetable provided below. Every seminar involves a mixture of a lecture and discussion. For each of the meetings, students are required to adopt a pro-active stance based on the reading of all the articles/chapters in the reading list. In particular, at each meeting, one student will present the readings, describing their content, methods and findings in critical perspective. Then a general discussion will follow. All students must do the readings and participation in the seminars is compulsory.


Master and PhD students will be evaluated through their participation and active participation in class. PhD students willing to write their term paper on the topic of the course, between 5,000 and 6,000 words (references excluded). Term papers are due before September 30, 2023. The topic of the term paper must be agreed with the instructor of the course. Doctoral students are however not required to write a paper as the instructor will only determine whether they have passed (or failed) the course. Students who miss more than one class may be asked to repeat the course. Master students are required to prepare a short presentation in class and to write a 3,000 word paper (references included) on one of the topics covered during the course to allow the instructor to express a grade on a 30-point scale. The paper can be written in English or Italian and must be delivered by July 2, 2023. More detailed information on the requirements of the course will be discussed on the first day of class.

Assessment criteria

Phd students Presentation 50%

In-class attendance and participation 50%

Master students Presentation 25%

In-class attendance and participation 25%

Paper 50%

Schedule of Classes and Readings

1. The agenda of digital sociology

November 4 (14:00-17:00)

Marres, N. (2017) Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research, Cambridge: Wiley (pp. 6-37)

Ignatow, G. (2020) Sociological Theory in the Digital Age, London: Routledge (pp. 1-29)

Recommended readings:

Lupton, D. (2014) Digital Sociology, Taylor & Francis

2. Knowledge and truth in the digital age: From data to information, non-information and disinformation

November 8 (10:00-13:00)

Waisbord, S. (2018) 'Truth is What Happens to News', Journalism Studies, 19(13): 1866-1878.

Broersma, M. (2013) 'A refractured paradigm: journalism, hoaxes and the challenge of trust', in C. Peters and M. Broersma (eds) Rethinking Journalism. Trust and Participation in a Transformed News Landscape, London: Routledge, pp. 28-44

Michailidou, A, and Trenz, Hans-Joerg (2021): Journalism and trust: the weaponization of fake news in trust-building. Manuscript

3. Private and public relationships in the Digital Age

November 15 (10:00-13:00)

Splichal, S. (2018) 'Publicness–Privateness: The Liquefaction of “The Great Dichotomy”', Javnost - The Public, 25(1-2): 1-10.

Papacharissi, Z. (2010) A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (pp. 25-50)

4. Digital politics: Forms of collective empowerment and disempowerment

November 22 (10:00-13:00)

Bennett, W.L. and Segerberg, A. (2012) 'THE LOGIC OF CONNECTIVE ACTION', Information, Communication & Society, 15(5): 739-768.

Dahlgren, P. (2013) The Political Web: Media, Participation and Alternative Democracy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (pp.8-64)

5. Digital culture

November 29 (10:00-13:00) 

Reckwitz, A. (2020) Society of Singularities, Cambridge: Polity (177-212)

Fuchs, Christian (2015). Social Media as participatory Culture, In Fuchs, C, Social Media: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge.

6. Inequality and social class in the digital age

December 06 (10:00-13:00) 

Reckwitz, A. (2020) Society of Singularities, Cambridge: Polity (213-287)

Susan Halford & Mike Savage (2010) RECONCEPTUALIZING DIGITAL SOCIAL INEQUALITY, Information, Communication & Society, 13:7, 937-955

Fourcade, M. Ordinal citizenship. Br J Sociol. 2021; 72: 154– 173. 4446.12839

7. Outlook: a critical sociology of the digital

December 15 (10-12) 

Lupton, D. (2014) Digital Sociology, Taylor & Francis, chapter 5.

Venturini, T., Jensen, P. and Latour, B. (2015) 'Fill in the Gap: A New Alliance for Social and Natural Sciences', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 18(2): 18 - 29.

Kaun, A. (2021). Ways of seeing digital disconnection: A negative sociology of digital culture. Convergence, 27(6), 1571–1583.

Educational aims

How can sociological theory contribute to our understanding of the digital transformation of society? The dynamics, mechanisms and implications of digitalization on society are discussed controversially within sociology. Some see digitalization as an opportunity for social progress, cultural creativity, innovation and new forms of sustainable development. Others emphasize the disruptive impact of digitalization on cultural expressions, social communications, groups and social relationships. The course trains students not only to raise critical questions about the constructive or disruptive impact of digital transformations, but also to explore new forms of critical sociological investigations to face the digital challenge. For that purpose a sociological inquiry of digital society is undertaken that deals with the societal impact of digital media technologies on society in a broad sense, including aspects of knowledge production and distribution, private-public relationships, social empowerment and inequalities. The course further raises the question how digitalization is experienced by the members of society and how individuals make creative use of digital media technologies giving rise to new forms of cultural expression and collective mobilization. The course thus treats theory development as a tool for empirical research and encourages participants to raise critical theory questions as an inseparable element of their own ongoing research practice.