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Violence and Peace in the Age of Social Media


This course is earmarked for NECD, IP, PPD

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.


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: The students will learn 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. Upon completing this course, students should thus be more aware of the current academic debates on how social media has been changing conflict and peace processes.
Objective 2: The enormous size of generated data on social media and their diverse format, from text and photo to sound and video, lead to using and developing innovative research methods for empirical evaluation of developed theories in this literature. The students will be exposed to cutting-edge empirical research on social media and political conflict. The course should thus help students become acquainted with different types of social media data, the possible methods of collecting them, and the rigorous methods of analyzing them.


See 'MyTimetable'

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

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

  • Participation: 20%

  • Response essay: 20%

  • Research paper: 35%

  • Simulation game: 10% = participation (5%)+reaction note (5%)

  • Presentation: 15%

Reading list

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


See 'Practical Information'.


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