RMeS RMa Course: Studying digital activism: Discourses, practices, and politics

When: April-May 2025, exact dates, see below
Where: Erasmus University Rotterdam, exact rooms t.b.c.
Coordinator: Dr Delia Dumitrica (EUR) and Victoria Balan (EUR)
For: First and second year RMa students in Media Studies, who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). Students who are members of RMeS will have first access. RMeS staff and PhD researchers are welcome to sit in on specific sessions; please send an e-mail to RMeS if you intend to attend one or more seminar sessions: rmes@rug.nl.

Registration will open Fall 2024 via THIS LINK

This course examines the complex layers of digital activism, with a particular focus on Instagram. As digital technologies become integral to mobilizing for collective action and advocating for political transformation, it is crucial that we critically investigate the impacts of these phenomena upon contemporary forms of political participation and civic engagement. In this course, we approach Instagram activism by focusing on the relationship between the promised political might of such technologies (discourses), the day-to-day digital and analogue practices of activists (practices), and their interactions with formal politics (politics). Through the lens of Instagram activism, we ask: What defines activism on Instagram? How do platform affordances shape activist strategies and tactics? How does Instagram integrate into the wider activist communication system? Who listens to activism on Instagram? And, how can we evaluate the political impact of Instagram activism? The course employs a case-based approach, using prior readings and selected activist accounts to facilitate theoretical conceptualization and reflect on research design development.

Schedule (5 meetings x 4 hours)

Session 1: Discourses – A platform for “posting the little moments”
Session 2: Discourses – From activist accounts to mega-influencers
Session 3: Practices – Platform-adequate tactics within the activist communication system
Session 4: Practices – Building followers, spurring meaningful engagement
Session 5: Politics – Assessing political impact(s)

Learning outcomes

Students have knowledge and understanding of:

  • The complex dimensions of digital activism
  • Critical debates on the advantages and limitations of contemporary digital activism
  • Key methodological issues when studying digital activism
  • Exposure and critical insight into novel empirical cases

Students are able to:

  • Apply relevant theoretical insights in analysing contemporary digital activism cases
  • Critically reflect on different texts about digital activism (e.g., news articles, scholarly
  • Design nuanced research designs to study digital activism
  • Develop well-argued and nuanced analyses of novel cases of digital activism

Compulsory literature:

  • Readings will consist of journal articles and book chapters in electronic format.


Friday afternoon 13.00-17.00 – Rotterdam

  • 4 April 2025
  • 11 April 2025
  • 25 April 2025
  • 9 May 2025
  • 23 May 2025