Digital Society: Problems and Concepts


It is intended that students acquire the ability to understand the interrelationship between digital technologies and their developments and society as a whole, questioning the meaning and scope of the concept of digital society and its impact on social changes. The objective is to explore and discuss the notion of digital society from the perspective of social and human sciences, namely (i) what is the origin of the concept of digital society and how it becomes part of popular culture; (ii) whether this concept is homogeneous and uniform or, on the contrary, there are several digital societies, with different structures and rhythms; (iii) what it means to live in a digital society; (iv) how to preserve human agency and leadership in a digital society.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate that they understand the strong interrelationship between social and technological development in digital societies in a diachronic longue durée perspective;

2,  Define and describe key terms relevant to the study of the digital society, such as digitization, digital society, artificial intelligence and datification;

3.  Master theoretical concepts for a contextualized approach of the digital society topic such as technological determinism, technological imagery and progress;

4.  Demonstrate and apply knowledge based on reading and processing of academic literature from various perspectives and using an interdisciplinary framework;

5.  Develop the ability to critically analyze digital technologies and their relationship with social, economic and political conditions:

6.  Understand the ethical issues raised by the digital society. 

The methodology combines contemporary examples and historical perspectives framed by readings and debate of the

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Paula Pires dos Santos Diogo


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Bijker, Wiebe E., Pinch, T., Hughes, Thomas P. (2012). The Social Construction of Technological Systems.. Cambridge (Mass):MIT Press.
Castells, Manuel (1996). The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture (3 vols). Cambridge (Mass); Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Castells, Manuel (2012). Networks of Outrage and Hope. Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge, (Mass): Polity Press.
Lindgren, Simon (2017). Digital Media and Society. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Mackenzie, Donald (1999). The Social Shaping of Technology. Buckingham: Open University Press (2nd edition)
Nentwich, M.; König, R. (2012), Cyberscience 2.0, Frankfurt, Campus
OECD (2020), OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020, Paris
Van Roy, V. (2020), AI Watch - National strategies on Artificial Intelligence: A European perspective in 2019, EUR 30102 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, ISBN 978-92-76-16409-8 (online), doi:10.2760/602843 (online), JRC119974

Teaching method

The classes are theoretical-practical, thus allowing a problem-based and research-oriented pedagogical approach.

The theoretical dimension of the classes aims to address the topics of the program and guide students across the mandatory readings that are deemed critical do consolidate their knowledge. The course will use the model of the explanatory-dialogue class, in which the teacher contextualizes a topic in order to mobilize the readings made by the students. The teacher works as a mediator, encouraging students to question, interpret and critically analyze the object of study. Various media will be used to achieve these objectives including excerpts from texts, films, documentaries, recorded interviews, all of which available on the Moodle platform.

The practical dimension of the classes stimulates the students'''' autonomous work, individually or in groups, proposing several “exercises,” in which students mobilize their theoretical and methodological learning, sharing the results and discussing them in the classroom.

Evaluation method

Students will be assessed by their participation in classes and debates, their exercises and presentations in the classroom and by an individual work that will consist of a detailed state of the art on one of the topics of the course.

Subject matter

1.    What is the digital society? Theories, debates and controversies about the digital society and the role of technology in society. From Industrial Society to Digital Society

2.    From the press to the www: information and communication technologies that shape contemporary society in historical and perspectives.

3.    Digital society, information society and knowledge society.

4.    Digital technologies and today''''s society: impacts on social relationships and structures, economics, politics, education and law.

5. Ethical issues in a digital society


Programs where the course is taught: