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OAFP 2025 - Digital public spaces : origin, development, methods

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This seminar will provide an overview on the issues pertaining to digital public spaces. It will review the state of the art of the last two decades regarding a variety of online expression contexts, from discussion forums and weblogs to more recent social media, including social networking and micro-blogging platforms. It will also diversely shed light on the connection of these spaces with offline public spheres and geographical areas, on the contribution of algorithms to the shape of the online epistemic landscape, or on the emergence of new means of dialog between governmental entities and citizens. The seminar will also feature a couple of sessions on qual-quantitative methods of relevance for studying such spaces, including social network analysis and computational social science.


ROTH, Camille (Associate Professor au MediaLab, Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

The course will be broken down in 12 sessions, each exploring a relatively distinct aspect of the main course topic. Sessions will essentially consist of introducing the context and existing work in the relevant subfield, discussing the required article for the session, and possibly accommodate for the presentation of the collaborative work by the students.

Course validation

Validation will principally be assessed upon the completion of three distinct assignments. First, a short (typically half-page) position paper detailing 3-4 questions related to the required literature of a given session (20%). Second,a mid-term essay on a paper or a book review suggested in the bibliography of this syllabus (30%). Third, a collective presentation of an explorative study during one of the sessions (40%). Participation will also contribute to the final grade (10%). 


Participants will be expected to read the required literature proposed for each session, prepare a short position paper based and a longer essay on the required and additional literature of one session of their choice; contribute to a collective study within a group of typically 3-4 students, focusing on a specific issue to be jointly defined with the teacher, and oral presentation of the results.

Required reading

  • Etling, B., Kelly, J., Faris, R., Palfrey, J., (2009) “Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere : Politics, Culture, and Dissent”, Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2009-06
  • Epstein, R., Robertson, R. E. (2015). “The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections”. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences, 112(33) :E4512–E4521
  • Smith, M. A., Rainie, L., Himelboim, I., Shneiderman, B. (2014). “Mapping Twitter Topic Networks : From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters”, Pew Research Center Report, Feb 20, 2014.
  • Sunstein, C. R. (2009). 2.0. Princeton University Press.
  • Ayres, J. M. (1999), “From the Streets to the Internet : The Cyber-Diffusion of Contention”, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566, 132-143.

Additional required reading

  • Conover, M. D., Ferrara, E., Menczer, F., Flammini, A. (2013). “The Digital Evolution of Occupy Wall Street”, PLoS One, 8(5) :e64679
  • Hindman, M., Tsioutsiouliklis, K., Johnson, J. A. (2003), “Googlearchy : How a few heavily-linked sites dominate politics on the web”, Proc. of Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association
  • Gayo-Avello, D. (2013). “A Meta-Analysis of State-of-the-Art Electoral Prediction From Twitter Data”, Social Science Computer Review, 31(6), p. 649–679
  • Karpf, D. (2008). “Understanding Blogspace”. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 5(4) :369– 385.
  • Moss, G., Coleman, S. (2014). “Deliberative Manoeuvres in the Digital Darkness : e-Democracy Policy in the UK”, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 16, p. 410–427
  • Spink, A., Zimmer, M. (2008). “Through the Google Goggles : Sociopolitical Bias in Search Engine Design”. Information Science and Knowledge Management, 14 pp. 11-34
  • Ruppert, E., Law, J., Savage, M. (2013). “Reassembling Social Science Methods : The Challenge of Digital Devices”. Theory, Culture & Society, 30(4) :22–46.