Digital Cultural Politics

Course content

Digital media and digital communication have revolutionized modern cultural production and consumption. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Tik Tok are instrumental in terms of how users access and participate in cultural activities. This course will focus on the notion of digital cultural politics and how these in different ways attempt to shape cultural production and consumption in algorithmic culture. The course will discuss the role of cultural policy in the age of platform giants and how the digital media ecology of major platforms creates inter-dependencies with other platforms, established cultural institutions, legacy media, public service institutions, digital creators, and users.


The course starts with a discussion on the platform society and how the notion of digital cultural politics relates to cultural-, media- and communication policy, and to the internet-, and cultural industries.  How do giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google and the platforms and services they provide frame the way users interact with culture? How do these technologies form the content and participative potentials of users, how are they governed and what is their business model? How does a platform like Spotify algorithmically shape the music taste and habits of their users? How do the production- and consumption processes of major platforms shape cultural representation and identity formation of users, and how are these governed? The first part of the course lays the foundations from the perspective of dominant platforms and platform providers, with a specific focus on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Spotify and YouTube.


The second part of the course looks at the inter-dependencies that these platforms generate between themselves and cultural institutions. We will analyse the digital cultural politics of established museums such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the British Museum and SMK in Denmark, and how public service broadcasters, such as the BBC and DR have reacted discursively in their policies, as well as in practice. We will therefore analyse cultural institution’s use of platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube.


The third part of the course will focus on data politics, user rights ethics and discrimination. Platforms that users engage with daily channel, filter and sort data that form subjects in various ways. How do subjects of data exercise their rights in the platform ecology? What kind of resistance is perceivable under such communicative circumstances? What are the implications of platform labour and digital labour on everyday users of these platforms, and how does data discriminate?


In order to answer these questions, we will engage with artworks that shed a critical light on the platform ecology; we will discuss NFT’s and the imaginary of the metaverse; we will read Google’s privacy policy and see how it fits national regulation and the EU’s GDPR; we will conduct qualitative content analysis on museums’ social media profiles; we will scrutinise the effects services like YouTube and Netflix have on local media markets and classical perceptions of public service media; and we will look at examples of cases which demonstrate algorithmic biases in terms of class, gender and race.


The final part of the course is composed of a whole-day workshop where students work on themes and topics of own choice, and which constitutes the start of the exam projects.


The course is taught in English, but students can write their exam projects either in English or Danish.


Moderne Kultur og Kunsthistorie

The course is composed of lectures, discussions, group work and analyses of different cases. The course will end with a whole-day workshop, where students work with the theories and methods that have been introduced in part one and part two of the cultural policy module. Prior to the workshop, students hand in a written mandatory assignment, which constitutes an introduction, research question, theoretical and methodological framework to their exam assignments

Students will read selected chapters from the book Digital Cultural Politics (2020, Palgrave Macmillan) by Bjarki Valtysson. Other readings are available online as book chapters and articles from international journals.


Examples from the listed readings:


Beer, David. 2009. ‘Power Through the Algorithm? Participatory Web Cultures and the Technological Unconscious’. New Media & Society, 11(6), pp. 985-1002.


Amoore, Louise. 2020. ´Politics and Ethics in the Age of Algorithms’. Cloud Ethics: Algorithms and the Attributes of Ourselves and Others. Durham & London, Duke University Press, pp. 1-25.


Benjamin, Ruha. 2019. ‘Engineered Inequity’. Race After Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 49-76.


Chun, Wendy. 2021. ‘Homophily, or the Swarming of the Segregated Neighborhood. Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition. Cambridge, MIT Press, pp. 81-120


Dean, Jodi (2005) ’Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics, International Journal of Cultural Politics, 1,1, pp 51-74.


Fuchs, Christian. 2012. ‘Class and Exploitation on the Internet’. Digital Labour: The Internet as Playground and Factory. Trebor Scholz (ed.) New York & London: Routlegde, pp. 211-224.


Murray, Sarah. 2020. ’Postdigital Cultural Studies’. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(4), pp. 441-450.


Ruppert, Evelyn, Isin, Engin, Bigo, Didier. 2017. “Data politics”. Big Data & Society, 1-7.


Van Dijck, José, Poell, Thomas, De Waal, Martijn. 2018. “The Platform Society as a Contested Concept”. The Platform Society: Public Values in a Connective World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 7-30.


Zuboff, Shosana. 2015. Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization. Journal of Information Technology, 30, 75-89.

This course is one out of three cultural policy courses that constitute the second half of the cultural policy module (the first part is the mandatory course Cultural policy: Theory, method & analysis). Students therefore choose between this course, Censurens kulturpolitik, or Demokratisering af kunst og kulturelt demokrati.

Type of assessment
Written assignment
All aids allowed
Censorship form
No external censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 140
  • Exam
  • 84
  • English
  • 252


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Fall 2022
Study board of Arts and Cultural Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of Arts and Cultural Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator
  • Bjarki Valtýsson   (9-79646f777c76767271436b7870316e7831676e)

Bjarki Valtýsson

Saved on the 05-05-2022

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