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Violence and Peace in the Age of Social Media


This seminar is earmarked for NECD, IP

Admission requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements.
A successful completion of International Conflict (or an equivalent of), Civil Conflict and Political Violence (or an equivalent of), and Empirical Methods for Political Scientists (or an equivalent of) will be helpful. If one or more of these courses are missing in previous training of a student, they would need to allocate more time to learn and familiarize themselves with the theories and concepts covered in the above courses. Also, the students taking this course need to be comfortable, or at least welcoming, to both qualitative and quantitative methods.


How do social media influence the dynamics of peace and conflict? Online platforms and applications, especially social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, have gained widespread adoption in the world, and this has changed the content and form of political activism and state governance. Considering its prevalence in today’s politics, conflict and security scholars have started exploring the national and international security consequences of social media.
Scholars initially argued that online communications increase the number and success rate of civil conflicts by lowering the barriers to collective actions. However, anecdotal evidence and recent academic research show that social media have been used effectively by governments anywhere on the autocracy-democracy spectrum to counter domestic and foreign threats.
This seminar introduces students to the emerging research on violence and peace in the age of social media. The examples of questions that will be discussed in this course are: How do governments use social media against their rival states? How do discontented citizens use social media to organize a protest? How do security forces use social media platforms to decrease the chance of political dissent and demobilize anti-government protests? How do insurgents and terrorist groups exploit social media as part of their recruitment and military strategies?

Course objectives

Objective 1: Recognize how social scientists use classic theories of political conflict and combine them with novel arguments to study the influence of social media on the dynamics of political violence and conflict.
Objective 2: Criticize the developed theories on the nexus of conflict and social media.
The scholarship in this literature often relies on big data and non-numerical forms of data to analyze how conflict processes are affected by social media. Therefore,
Objective 3: Identifying and criticizing cutting-edge empirical research on social media and political conflict.
Objective 4: Learning to identify a gap in the literature, develop a research question based on it, propose a theoretical answer for it, and offer a strategy for evaluating it empirically.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

A combination of individual written work, in-class participation, and a presentation.

  • Participation: 25%

  • Response essay: 20%

  • Research paper: 35%

  • Simulation game: 10%

  • Presentation: 10%

Reading list

Books and articles; a detailed reading list will be made available on Brightspce.


See 'MyTimetable'


See 'Practical Information'.


For further information, contact the instructor of the course, Dr. Babak RezaeeDaryakenari, via email: