Political Science (POLI) 480

Politics of Our Networked World in the Digital Era (Revision 5)

POLI 480 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: Students are strongly advised to have taken a senior university course in any of political science, political economy, sociology, communications, economics or cultural theory.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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POLI 480 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Welcome to Political Science 480: Politics of Our Networked World in the Digital Era. This course explores the emergence of the networked society, the information technology revolution, and the consequences for power, production, and culture on a global and a local scale as examined by such disciplines as political science, political economy, sociology, and communications. Throughout, the course views digital technologies as contested terrain and examines the tension between the networked world as a means of domination versus a means of hope, liberation, and democracy.

Beginning with the information technology revolution and its effects on structures of power, the course examines how these technologies, including the internet and social media, disperse power from the state and, in the process, move us from a surveillance state to a surveillance society. At the broader level, as these new information technologies challenge state power, they make possible the global restructuring of capital and the increasing commodification of more and more aspects of our lives. While capital and civil society organizations have rapidly adapted to the logic of a networked society operating on a global scale, the bureaucratic state struggles to adjust. Moreover, the creation of a global informational economy has met with increased resistance from those who view it as a form of domination. These include such different social movements as the Zapatistas of Mexico, the Global Justice movement, the Occupy movement, and the Arab Spring and Indignados movements, as well as the Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, and Climate Justice movements. This resistance, like the neoliberal global economy it struggles against, is assisted by digital technologies.

Political Science 480 also explores the effect of informational technologies on the democratic processes of the state, elections and political parties, and civil society. In particular, it looks at web tools, including social media and political blogs, and their effects on the political process, including the phenomenon of “fake news.”


  • Unit 1: Introduction—the Rise of the Network Society
  • Unit 2: The Digital World—a Realm of Surveillance and Control or a Realm Beyond Control?
  • Unit 3: The Informational Economy and the Process of Globalization
  • Unit 4: The Countermovement to Neoliberal Globalization—the Global Justice Movement
  • Unit 5: Movements of Resistance—the Arab Spring, Indignados, and Occupy Movements
  • Unit 6: Movements of Resistance—the Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, and Climate Justice Movements
  • Unit 7: Digital Democracy—Concepts and Issues
  • Unit 8: Political Communication and Political Journalism in the Digital Age
  • Unit 9: Digital Democracy, Elections, Parties, and the Political Process
  • Unit 10: The Future of the Internet—Free? Governed? Controlled?


To receive credit for POLI 480, you must achieve an overall course grade of at least D (50 percent) and receive a mark of at least D (50 percent) on the research essay and final assignment. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Critical Assessment Essay 15%
Assignment 2: Research Essay Proposal 15%
Assignment 3: Research Essay 35%
Assignment 4: Final Assignment 35%
Total 100%

Course Materials


Coleman, S., & Freelon, D. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of digital politics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Other materials

All other course materials for POLI 480 are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the POLI 480 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 5, May 7, 2019

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