CCGL9008 Global Issues

Cybersocieties: Understanding Technology as Global Change

[This course is under the thematic clusters of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’ and ‘The Universe and the Question of Meaning’.]


Course Description

The dual revolutions of technology and globalization are shaping each other and directing the way we live, learn, work and socialize. As evidenced by a wide range of fundamental social, cultural, political and economic transformations, the world today is becoming increasingly globalized. Within this environment, it is essential that we examine how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is directing and redefining what it means to live in a “global society”. The melding of technology and globalization has become the touchstone of the new millennium and it is impossible to discuss the impact and significance of one without the other.

Within this context, this course asks: What impact does the internet and online social networks have on how we interact with each other, how we perceive global issues as well as how we perceive ourselves? What kind of global society are we heading toward? How is digital activism, especially by youth, changing society? This course also requires students to reflect critically on their own uses of technology and how today’s ‘net generation’ is confronted with global technologies that are, at once, both empowering and constraining. This course is designed to inspire students to not only broaden their interest and understanding of globalization, but to develop a position as informed global citizens and to articulate the impact of technology on all human endeavours.

This course will make use of a mix of online videos and broad-based lectures. It is intended to be interdisciplinary in scope, embracing topics within the field of sociology, criminology, anthropology, gender issues, philosophy, international studies, political science, economics, science and technology and the humanities. Students are expected to actively participate and have a willingness to immerse in social media such as web forums, blogs, tweets, YouTube and related video sharing sites.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Differentiate and integrate the key theories, concepts and issues relating to globalization and ICT.
  2. Apply key concepts and theories framing the interface of globalization and ICT to their everyday experiences.
  3. Demonstrate a keen understanding of the interconnectedness of the world by critically evaluating films, websites, video clips, Internet media, and other sources.
  4. Explore and apply a multi-cultural perspective of global citizenship and the duties and responsibilities associated with global membership.
  5. Express a critical understanding of the digital divide debate and understand how both the “haves” and “have nots” of technology are simultaneously benefited and limited by ICT.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 26
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 20
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 40
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation) 8
Total: 134

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Group YouTube project/presentation 40
Journal writing 30
In-class test 20
Tutorial critical reflections and discussion 10

Required Reading

  • Boyd, D. (2008). Why youth (heart) social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, identity, and digital media (pp. 119-142). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Also available from http://www.danah.org/papers/WhyYouthHeart.pdf
  • Gottschalk, S. (2010). The presentation of avatars in Second Life: Self and interaction in social virtual spaces. Symbolic Interaction, 33(4), 501-525.
  • Lewis, J., & West, A. (2009). “Friending”: London-based undergraduates’ experience of Facebook. New Media & Society, 11(7), 1209-1229.
  • Qiang, X. (2011). The battle for the Chinese Internet. Journal of Democracy, 22(2), 47-61.
  • Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 6(3), 341-362.
  • Wood, N., & Ward, S. (2010). Stigma, secrets, and the human condition: Seeking to remedy alienation in PostSecret’s digitally mediated environment. Symbolic Interaction, 33(4), 578-602.
  • Yar, M. (2006). Political hacking. Cybercrime and Society (pp.45-62). London: Sage.

Required Websites

Recommended Reading

  • Barber, B. R. (2002). Beyond Jihad vs. McWorld: On terrorism and the new democratic realism. The Nation, 274(2), 11.
  • Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Castells, M. (2001). The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, business, and society.  Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, remediation, bricolage: Considering principal components of a digital culture. The Information Society, 22, 63-75.
  • Deuze, M. (2007). Convergence culture in creative industry. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(2), 243-252.
  • Ellwood, W. (2001). The no-nonsense guide to globalization. Oxford: New Internationalist.
  • Fernback, J. (2007). Beyond the diluted community concept: A symbolic interactionist perspective on online social relations. New Media & Society, 9(1), 49-69.
  • Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century(1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Gershon, I. (2010). Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over new media. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Gunkel, D. (2003). Second thoughts: Toward a critique of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 5(4), 499-522.
  • Haas, S. M., Irr, M. E., Jennings, N. A., & Wagner, L. M. (2011). Communicating thin: A grounded model of online negative enabling support groups in the pro-anorexia movement. New Media & Society, 13(1), 40-57.
  • Hughes, C. (2002). China and the globalization of ICTs. New Media & Society, 4(2), 205-224.
  • Jenkins, H. (2004). The cultural logic of media convergence. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 33-43
  • Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.
  • Kahn, R., & Kellner, D. (2004). New media and Internet activism: From the “Battle of Seattle” to blogging. New Media & Society, 6(1), 87-95.
  • Lee, J., & Lee, H. (2010). The computer-mediated communication network: Exploring the linkage between the online community and social capital. New Media & Society, 12(5), 711-727.
  • Lindgren, S., & Lundström, R. (2011). Pirate culture and hacktivist mobilization: The cultural and social protocols of #WikiLeaks on Twitter. New Media & Society, 13(6), 999-1018.
  • Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media & Society, 10(3), 393-411.
  • Magnet, S. (2007). Feminist sexualities, race and the Internet: An investigation of suicidegirls.com. New Media & Society, 9(4), 577-602.
  • Marwick, A., & Boyd, D. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114-133.
  • Mehra, B., Merkel, C., & Bishop, A. P. (2004). The Internet for empowerment of minority and marginalized users. New Media & Society, 6(6), 781-802.
  • Miller, D. (2011). Tales from Facebook. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Miller, V. (2011). Understanding digital culture. London: SAGE.
  • Robinson, L. (2007). The cyber-self: The self-ing project goes online, symbolic interaction in the digital age. New Media & Society, 9(1), 93-110.
  • Sassi, S. (2005). Cultural differentiation or social segregation? Four approaches to the digital divide. New Media & Society, 7(5), 684-700.
  • Stiglitz, J. E. (2006). Making globalization work (1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
  • Taylor, P. (2005). From hackers to hacktivists: Speed bumps on the global superhighway? New Media & Society, 7(5), 625-646.
  • Turkle, S. (1996). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Vandebosch, H., & Van Cleemput, K. (2009). Cyberbullying among youngsters: Profiles of bullies and victims. New Media & Society, 11(8), 1349-1371.
  • Vrooman, S. (2002). The art of invective: Performing identity in cyberspace. New Media & Society, 4(1), 51-70.
  • Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Yang, G. (2008). Contention in cyberspace. In K. J. O’Brien (Ed.), Popular protest in China (pp. 126-143). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Yang, G. (2009). The power of the Internet in China: Citizen activism online. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Yar, M. (2006). Cybercrime and society. London: Sage.
  • Zhao, S. (2005). The digital self: Through the looking glass of telecopresent others. Symbolic Interaction, 38(3), 387-405.
  • Zhou, X. (2009). The political blogosphere in China: A content analysis of the blogs regarding the dismissal of Shanghai leader Chen Liangyu. New Media & Society, 11(6), 1003-1022.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr T.H.L. Tse
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8532
Email: tommyt@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr T.H.L. Tse
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8532
Email: tommyt@hku.hk