84705 - Information Society

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Laura Sartori

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SPS/07

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Course Timetable from Sep 25, 2018 to Dec 11, 2018

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Changes in social relations, political participation and social innovation are key features in understanding contemporary societies. The course focuses on these topics with specific reference to the most recent and salient events. At the end of the course the student a) has acquired the tools for reading and interpreting the ‘Information society’ , its own dynamics and current transformations; b) is capable of evaluating the social, political and economic implications of Information and Communication technologies.

Course contents

This course foresees a very active involvement on the participants.

There are mandatory readings for each weeks that will set the base for debate and discussion in class. A brief written essay (4000 spaces maximum) should be sent to the professor each week.

There is a constantly updated syllabus that should be considered finalized during the 2nd week of class, depending on the number of students participating.

All articles are available as electronic resource in the Unibo online repository (ACNP).


1st week: History of the information society

Mansell, Robin. 2010. “The Life and Times of the Information Society.” Prometheus, 28(2): 165-186.

Webster, Frank. 2006. “What is an Information Society?” in Theories of the Information Society, 8-31. Routledge.

Additional readings:

Mattelart, Armand 2002, Storia della società dell’informazione, Einaudi.

Slevin, James 2001, The Internet and Society, Polity, London. Pp. 11-53.

Marvin, Caroline, 1999, When old technologies were new, http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1203&context=asc_papers


2nd week: Theories of the Information Society

Di Maggio, P. et al. (2001), Social implications of the Internet, Annual review of sociology, 27, pp. 307-336.

Webster, Frank. 2006. “Network society: Manuel Castells?” in Theories of the Information Society, 98-123. Routledge.

Webster, Frank. 2006. “Information, reflexivity and surveillance: Anthony Giddens” in Theories of the Information Society, 203-227. Routledge.

Sartori, L. (2012), La società dell'informazione, Bologna, Il Mulino. Chp. 3.

1 class on: How to write a proposal plus how to construct a research design

3rd and 4th week: Digital divides and digital inequalities

Sartori, L. (2006), Il divario digitale, Bologna, Il Mulino, (capp. 1, 3).

DiMaggio, Paul; Eszter Hargittai; Coral Celeste; and Steven Shafer. 2003. “From Unequal Access to Differentiated Use: A Literature Review and Agenda for Research on Digital Inequality”. Working Paper 29. Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Witte, C James and Mannon E. Susan 2010, The Internet and social inequalities, Routledge.

Yu, R. 2016 Mapping the two levels of digital divide: Internet access and social network site adoption among older adults in the USA, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1109695

Lupton, Deborah, The diversity of digital technology use, in Digital sociology, chp. 6, pp. 117-140.


Additional reading:

DiMaggio, Paul and Eszter Hargittai. 2001. “From the ‘Digital Divide’ to ‘Digital Inequality’: Studying Internet Use as Penetration Increases.” Working Paper 15. Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. https://www.princeton.edu/~artspol/workpap/WP15%20-%20DiMaggio%2BHargittai.pdf


Assignment: Using ISTAT data, write a 3-4 pages essay (2000 characters per page, including spaces) where you critically describe and analyse the Italian situation compared to the main analytical dimensions touched upon this week.


5th week: A competence divide?


Hargittai, E. & Shaw A. (2015). "Mind the Skills Gap: The Role of Internet Know-How and Gender in Differentiated Contributions to Wikipedia." [http://webuse.org/p/a49] . Information, Communication and Society.

Hargittai, E. & Dobransky, K. (2017). Old Dogs, New Clicks: Digital Inequality in Internet Skills and Uses among Older Adults. Canadian Journal of Communication. 42(2):195-222.

6th week: What is happening at the European level?


Ferrari, A. (2013), DigComp: A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe, Seville: JRC-IPTS. http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publica,ons/pub.cfm?id=6359

7th week: Digital Sociology

Lupton, Deborah, Theorizing digital society, in Digital sociology, chp. 2, pp. 20-41.

Lupton, Deborah, The digitized body/self, in Digital sociology, chp. 8, pp. 164-187.



Lupton, Deborah, Digital politics and public engagement, in Digital sociology, chp. 7, pp. 141-163.

Farrell H. (2012) The Consequences of the Internet for Politics, Annual Review of Political Science , Vol. 15: 35-52.

Boulianne, E. 2015, Online news, civic awareness, and engagement in civic and political life http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/11/24/1461444815616222


8th week: Algorithm


O’Neil, C. 2017, How algorithms rule our life https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/01/how-algorithms-rule-our-working-lives

Lazer, D. 2015, The rise of social algorithm, Perspective, June, http://education.biu.ac.il/files/education/shared/science-2015-lazer-1090-1.pdf

Beer, David. 2017. “The Social Power of Algorithms.” Information, Communication & Society, 20(1).


Kitchin, Rob. 2017. “Thinking Critically about and Researching Algorithms.” Information, Communication and Society,

20(1). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154087#abstract [http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154087%22%20%5Cl%20%22abstract]

Algorithm culture http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1367549415577392

Ziewitz, M 2016, Governing algorithm http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0162243915608948

Information, communication and society , Special issue on Algorithm 1/2017 http://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.unibo.it/toc/rics20/20/1?nav=tocList

Science, Technology, & Human Values, Special issue on Special Issue: Governing Algorithms 1/16 http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.unibo.it/toc/sthd/41/1


9th week: Big data

Lupton, Deborah, A critical sociology of big data, in Digital sociology, chp. 5, pp. 164-187.

boyd, D. e Crawford, K. (2014), CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR BIG DATA, Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 662-679.

Kitchin, R. (2014), Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts, Big Data & Society, 1, 1.

Neff, G (2013), Why bid data won't cure us, Big Data, 1, 3, 117-123.

Sartori, L. (2014), Opengovernment: what else?, Le istituzioni del federalismo, 1.


Morozov, E: (2013), Your social networking credit score [http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/01/wonga_lenddo_lendup_big_data_and_social_networking_banking.html], The Slate, online.

Rupert, Ev (2013), How to do sociology with big data, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6O8wI7pt40


Neff, G Technology of self http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1118520

Additional reading:

Neff, G. 2016, Quantified self?

Privacy: the privacy divide

Harigittai, E and Marwick A. 2016, “What Can I Really Do?” Explaining the Privacy Paradox with Online Apathy”, in International Journal of Communication 10, 3737–3757.



10th week: Paper presentation and collective discussion





25%: Attendance and participation (Leading class: depending on the number of students, but highly probable)

25% Assignments and in-class presentation

50% Final paper

Teaching methods

In person classes plus collective discussion.

Assessment methods

Weekly brief essays plus one long final essay on a selected topic discussed with the professor.

Office hours

See the website of Laura Sartori