cod. 1011896

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - Second semester
- Lorenzo MOSCA
Academic discipline
Sociologia dei processi culturali e comunicativi (SPS/08)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
63 hours
of face-to-face activities
9 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The main objective of this course is to provide the fundamental tools to critically interrogate digital platforms and familiarise students with the main theories and concepts in the platformisation debate. The perspective adopted is that of sociology of communication as a privileged lens for analysing the relationship between digital media and society in the constant dialectic between technological determinism and social constructivism.
At the end of the course the student is expected to be able to reflect critically on the impact that commercial platforms exert not only on the lives of single individuals but also at an organisational level (firms and parties), significantly modifying the value system that innervates society.



Course unit content

The course focuses on the processes of digitalisation and how they are profoundly changing our societies, posing challenges to the value system on which the idea of public service has historically been built in Europe. The course also aims to reflect on the processes of digitalisation in organisations, discussing how digital technologies influence various aspects of organisations, such as structure, knowledge and collaboration. The course then focuses on the change affecting political organisations in the age of platforms, focusing in particular on the new models of organisation and participation of digital parties.

Full programme

This course aims at outlining the contours of the digital platform ecosystem, characterised by relevant power asymmetries and dependency relationships that sectoral platforms suffer vis-à-vis proprietary infrastructural platformss, which constitute the heart of the platform society. The in-depth discussion will unveil the mechanisms of datafication, commodification and selection typical of commercial platforms. Furthermore, it will focus on how commercial platforms are increasingly influencing different social spheres ranging from predominantly market to predominantly public sectors: from healthcare to education, from urban transport to the information system.
The course then focuses on digitalisation processes in organisations, showing how digital technologies are reconfiguring organisational practices, norms and values and influencing strategy, management, innovation and entrepreneurship more generally. The illustration of a series of recent case studies will clarify how the influence of digital technologies unfolds on organisational processes.
Finally, a specific focus will be made on the topic of digital parties considering Italy and Spain and concentrating in particular on the cases of the Five Star Movement and Podemos. This focus will make it possible to highlight new organisational configurations characterised by elements - such as the presence of "hyperleaders" and "superbases" and a "participationist" ideology - that respond to the platform logic illustrated in the first part of the course.


Van Dijck, J., Poell, T., De Waal, M., 2019, Platform society. Valori pubblici e società connessa, Milano, Guerini.

Plesner, U., Husted, E., 2022, L’organizzazione digitale, Bologna, Il Mulino.

Gerbaudo, P., 2020, Il partito digitale, Bologna, Il Mulino.

Teaching methods

Lectures with constant involvement of students in discussions and presentations on topical issues related to the teaching content.

Assessment methods and criteria

Students' assessment will be based on a 45-minute written test with three open-ended questions (one for each examination text) and six closed-ended questions. Open questions may be awarded up to 9 points; closed questions are worth half a point. Attending students who present their work in classroom may be awarded an additional mark (up to a maximum of 3 points) on top of their written examination grade. The grade for the written exam will be announced within 2 weeks of the exam, via publication on Elly. Please note that online registration for the exam is compulsory.

Other information

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