NEW MEDIA AND POLITICS
2015/2016, Semester 1
University Scholars Programme (University Scholars Programme)
Modular Credits: 4
This module examines the dynamics between politics and new media in different spheres of the political landscape. In her book “Democratic Phoenix”, McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Pippa Norris Norris defines political parties as the central organizations that link citizens and the state. Political parties play multiple functions, ranging from organizing and mobilizing campaigns, articulating and aggregating disparate interests, facilitating debate to organizing the government. Norris also spoke about the diversification of political participation in terms of who, what and where.
The Internet has changed all these three aspects of politics and political participation. For instance, political parties or groups are no longer confined to just organizations that are actively involved in the governing of a nation, but those which advocate specific rights and privileges, such as civil society organizations and issue-based groups. The evolutionary of political actors is best exemplified by the expansion of “non-state” actors from non-governmental and civil society organizations to include ordinary citizens.
Unit 1 examines key concepts and theories pertaining to political participation and media effects. Students will engage with various theoretical frameworks and analyse the impact of new media in different political contexts. This unit also incorporates writing and research workshops that inform students of the techniques of developing a research paper and facilitate their appraisal of the various research methods used in this field of study.
The second unit focuses on the different types of political actors and their deployment of digital technologies to achieve political and civic agenda. These actors come from different realms – the party level, civil society level and grassroots level – and Unit 2 examines human agency behind technology deployment, their effectiveness and limitations.
Finally, Unit 3 informs students of regulatory and censorship measures in different political contexts. This unit will deepen students’ insights into the nuanced relationship between state, technology and participation. Students will present their research essay and are expected to engage with their peers’ essays through providing feedback and recommendations.
Through three units, students will critically examine how media and politics play out in various domains. Students will learn to learn to assess and apply theoretical frameworks used to explain the relationship between new media and different stakeholders and apply them in personal research and writing. Through writing and research workshops, writing assignments, paper conferences and peer-review exercises, students will: (i) develop critical analytical skills of source materials, (ii) construct and present rigorous oral and written arguments, and (iii) gain mastery over the protocols of academic writing. This module has a strong research focus and students are expected to conceptualise and implement a research project.
Not applicable to USP First-Tier modules. USP Advanced modules (Course-Based Modules, CBMs) may state general pre-requisite skills/knowledge. Prerequisites should not make reference to NUS modules.
Unit 1: Systems, Media and Participation
11 Aug (Week 1)
Kalathil, S. & Boas, T.C. (2003). Open networks, closed regimes: The impact of the Internet on authoritarian rule. First Monday, 8(1-6). Available at
Hirzalla, F., Van Zoonen, L. & de Ridder, J. (2011). Internet use and political participation: Reflections on the mobilization/normalization controversy. The Information Society, 27, 1–15.
18 Aug (Week 2)
Bimber, B. (1999). The Internet and citizen communication with government: does the medium matter? Political Communication, 16, 4, 409-428.
Assignment of groups for research project
Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: a theory of public opinion. Journal of Communication, 24, 43-51.
25 Aug (Week 3)
Writing Workshop 1: Parts of a Research Paper and Writing a Literature Review
In-class exercise: Locating research and identifying themes
1 Sep (Week 4)
Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58.
Iyengar, S., & Simon, A. (1993). News coverage of the gulf crisis and public opinion. Communication Research, 20(3), 365-83.
Writing Workshop 2: Crafting Research Questions
Method Workshop 1: Overview of the scientific method
8 Sep (Week 5)
Methods Workshop 2: Selected Methodologies
Group conferences for Paper 1
(“Introduction and Literature Review”,
to be submitted on 15 Sep
) Draft to be uploaded to Workbin - Student Submissions - Paper 1 Drafts by 8 Sep (Tue) 2359.
15 Sep (Week 6)
Unit 2: State and Non-State Actors
Benoit, W. L. & Benoit, P. J. (2000). The virtual campaign: Presidential primary websites in campaign 2000. American Communication Journal, 3(3).
Recess Week: 19 - 27 Sep
29 Sep (Week 7)
Group Presentations (for Papers 1 and 2) (
Paper 2 draft "Methodology"
to be submitted
to Workbin - Student Submissions - Paper 2 Drafts by 27 Sep Sunday 2359
to be uploaded to Workbin - Student Submissions - Paper 2 Final by 2 Oct Friday 2359.)
Buechler, S.M. (1993), Beyond resource mobilization? Emerging trends in social movement theory. The Sociological Quarterly, 34, 2, 217-235.
6 Oct (Week 8)
Van Laer, J. & Van Aelst, P. (2010). Internet and social movement repertoires. Information, Communication & Society, 13, 8, 1146-1171.
Ho, K. C., Baber, Z., & Khondker, H. (2002). 'Sites' of resistance: Alternative web sites and state-society relations. British Journal of Sociology, 53, 1, 127-148.
Talk by Invited Guest Lecturer
Unit 3: Regulation (and Student Presentations)
13 Oct (Week 9)
Smith, A. (2013), Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. Pew Research Centre. Available at
‘IPS paper “Survey on Political Traits and Media Use”. Available at
20 Oct (Week 10):
Rodan, G. (1998). The Internet and Political Control in Singapore. Political Science Quarterly, 113, 1, 63-89.
George, C. (2003). The Internet and the narrowing tailoring dilemma for "Asian" democracies. The Communication Review, 6, 247-268.
27 Oct (Week 11)
Talk by Invited Guest Lecturer
Abbott, Jason P. 2001. Democracy@internet.asia? The challenges to the emancipatory potential of the net: Lessons from China and Malaysia. Third World Quarterly, 22, 1, 99-114.
3 and 5 November (Week 12)
10 and 12 Nov (Week 13)
Student presentations and feedback (
“Findings & Discussion”
to be submitted on 17
1) Seminar Participation: 10%
Students are expected to attend and contribute actively to in-class discussions and the IVLE forum. For IVLE participation, students will be assigned to post questions on assigned readings (to be uploaded by the midnight before class).
Attendance is compulsory. Please let me know if you have a good reason to miss a class, e.g. family emergencies, official events and documented illnesses. If not, your absence will be considered unexcused and these will affect your grade.
2) Research Paper: 90%
The Research Paper is broken into three smaller components, each leading to the development of the next (see below for mark allocation for each component). Students can pick any topic related to the concepts taught in the module. They will write a research paper based on specified research questions and a chosen methodology. The objective of the essay assignment is for students to demonstrate their ability to critically analyse texts and apply what they have learned in making valid and cogent arguments, both as part of a group and individually. Depending on class enrolment, each group will have 3 to 4 people.
Paper 1 (Introduction and Literature Review, 7-9 pages): Group assignment, 15%
Paper 2 (Research Questions and Methodology, 4-6 pages): Group assignment, 15%
Group Presentation (to present Papers 1 & 2): To contribute to the above two components
Paper 3 (Findings and Discussion, 7-9 pages over and above the above two sections): Individual assignment, 60%
Drafts and final papers must be typed using a sans serif font, 1.5-line spaced, with 1.25-inch margins, in 12-point font and paginated. Do not include a cover page but provide at the top left-hand corner of the first page:
Name, matriculation number
Module code and title
Assignment [e.g.: Paper 1 Draft]
Assignment due date
Although drafts are not graded, students cannot pass an assignment if they do not hand in a draft. Late submissions of drafts and final papers will not be accepted.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week