ASTK15359U COURSE: IR and Social Media:Theory and Cases

Volume 2015/2016

Elective in the Specialisation "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Bachelor level 10 ECTS

Master level 7.5 ECTS


In the last decade, Social Media- understood as web services which facilitate the exchange of user generated content (Web 2.0), has become an integral part of everyday life, increasingly changing the way in which social relations are mediated, both locally and globally. In particular, the increased circulation of user generated content on these web services, such as images and videos produced by widely available mobile technologies circulating on platforms such as Facebook and Tweeter, has profoundly changed the visibility of the international domain, and many of the practices through which it has been traditionally mediated. On one hand, spectacular events such as the Arab Spring has vividly demonstrated the political significance of this, as political and cultural boundaries become transcendent while new paths of communication for publics across the globe previously monopolized by the state begin to open. Yet, on the other, the same socio-technological disposition facilitates also for new practices of surveillance and censorship, which threaten to encroach upon the political potentialities of these new emerging sites of participation and contestation, as many states attempt to re-monopolize this emerging public sphere. Thus, as academics and practitioner alike begin to recognize that politics as such, and foreign policy in particular, are increasingly mediated through Social Media, it raises the question of what are the implications of this socio-technological 

Learning Outcome

Orienting itself in critical theory, while focusing on empiric cases ranging from #activism to citizen-diplomacy, this course will engage the students in theoretical and empirical debates which will attempt to make sense of the way in which contemporary international relations are mediated through Social Media and the ways in which it reshapes the political terrain. For this purpose, the course shall


  1. introduce students to the basic concepts, themes and methodologies in Social Media research,
  2. discuss the heterogeneous ways in which Social Media affects the practices and discourses of the exceptional and the mundane mediations of international relations, namely security and diplomacy,  
  3. and apply these insights to empiric cases.


Upon completion, the students will be expected to


  • Describe the key concepts and theories in Social Media research and their relevance for IR.
  • Critically reflect upon the strength and weaknesses of these theories and concepts.
  • Apply these insights onto concrete cases.


The competencies acquired:


 This course enhances the students’ ability to understand the emerging logic of contemporary international interactions on Social Media, and will be useful for students who aim at careers both in the public and private sectors, engaging with global affairs.




Fuches, C. (2014) Social Media: A Critical Introduction Sage: London.  (266 pages)


  1. Introduction: The Nexus of Social Media and IR


Course plan, assignments and discussion of recent cases


Viner, K. (2009) “Internet has changed foreign policy for ever, says Gordon Brown” The Guardian 19th Jun, [http:/​/​​politics/​2009/​jun/​19/​gordon-brown-internet-foreign-policy].


Drezner, D. (2010) “International Relations 2.0: The Implications of New Media for an Old Profession” International Studies Perspective 11: 255-272.



  1. What is Social Media?


Fuches, C. (2014) Ch. 1-4. (special attention to 1-10, 31-38).


O’Reily, T. (2012) “What Is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”, in Mandiberg, M. (ed.) The Social Media Reader New York University Press: New York.


Lomborg, S. (2011) “Social media as communicative genres” MedieKultur 51 55-71.


Kaplan, A and M. Haenlein (2010) “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” Business Horizons 53: 59-68.


  1. The Political Economy of Social Media


Fuchs (2014) Ch.5- 7.


Lyon, D. Surveillance Society: monitoring everyday life Open University Press: Buckingham. (Ch. 7, p.107-125).


Anderson, C, (2012) “The Long Tail” in Mandiberg, M. (ed.) The Social Media Reader New York University Press: New York.


Fuchs, C. (2011) “Web 2.0, Prosumption, and Surveiilance” Surveillance and Society 8 (3): 288-309.


Andrejevic, M. (2011) “Surveillance and Alienation in the Online Economy” Surveillance and Society 8 (3): 278-287.


Terranova, T. (2000) “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy” Social Text 18(2): 33-58.


Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish Penguin: London. (195-228).


Stalder, F. (2012) “Between Democracy and Spectacle: The Front-End and the Back-End of the Social Web” in Mandiberg, M. (ed.) The Social Media Reader New York University Press: New York.


  1. Social Media and Politics I


Shirky, C. (2011) “The Political Power of Social Media: Technology, The Public Sphere, and The Political Change” Foreign Affairs 90(1).


Bakardjieva, M. (2009) “Subactivism: Lifeworld and Politics in the Age of the Internet” The Information Society 25: 91-104.


Papacharissi (2002) “The virtual sphere: The Internet as a public sphere” New Media & Society 4(1): 9-27.


Bennett, L. and A. Segerberg (2012) "The Logic of Connective Action" Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 739-768.


Fuchs (2014) Ch. 8-9


Zhuo et al (2011) “Egypt: The First Internet Revolt?” Peace Magazine : 6-9.


Anduiza, E. et al (eds) (2012) Digital Media and Political Engagement Worldwide: A Comparative Study Cambridge University Press (1-15)


  1. Social Media and Politics 2 II


Morozov (2011) The Net Delusion Public Affairs: New York. (focus on Introduction and Ch.7)


Dean (2005) “Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics” Cultural PoliticsI 1(1):51-74. 


Gladwell (2010) “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted” Annals of Innovation The New Yorker [http:/​/​​magazine/​2010/​10/​04/​small-change-3]


Punathambekar et al (2014) “Media, activism and the new political: ‘Istanbul conversations’ on new media and left politics” Media, Culture & Society 36 (7): 1045-1056.


Hampton, K. et al (2014) “Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’” PEW Research Center [http:/​/​​2014/​08/​26/​social-media-and-the-spiral-of-silence/​]


  1. Social Media and IR: Diplomacy 2.0 –I


Gilboa, E. (2008) “Public Diplomacy in a Changing World” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social science 616: 55-77.


Glassman, J. (2008) Public Diplomacy 2.0: A New Approach to Global Engagement [http:/​/​​r/​us/​2008/​112605.htm]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


Bjola, C. (2015) “Introduction: making sense of digital diplomacy”, in

Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (eds) Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice Routledge: London. 


Seib, P. (2012) Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.


Fisher, A. (2008) "Music for the Jilted Generation: Open-Source Public Diplomacy" The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 3: 129-152.


Der Derian, J. (1987) On diplomacy, a genealogy of Western estrangement Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (1-29)


Attias, S. (2012) Israel’s New Peer-to-Peer Diplomacy The Hague Journal Of Diplomacy 7: 473-482.


See also:


Copeland, D. (2009) Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.


For examples see:


You can find the full petitum in Absalon

Basic knowledge at bachelor level of International Relations Theory, keen interest in global affairs and Social Media.
Lectures, Guest Lectures and Hands-On Research Workshops
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Exam
  • 79
  • Preparation
  • 168
  • Total
  • 275
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment

Criteria for achieving the goals:

  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner