Masterclass José van Dijck

Social Media and Political Governance: Rome, Italy, Europe

Date: 25 March – 1 April 2019 

Deadline for applications: 25 January 2019

The emergence of social media over the past fifteen years has had a notable impact on the daily lives of European citizens. Particularly in the field of politics and city governance, the surge of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have changed the communication and media landscape. This masterclass will address 1) the impact of social media on political communication in Italy and 2) its impact on local governance and citizen engagement. We will focus on Italy and Rome as highly interesting battle fields of mediated politics and governance in a volatile European environment.

First, social media have changed the way politicians communicate with and relate to their constituencies not only during election campaigns, but continuously. Politicians and political movements from both the Five Star movement and Lega Nord have invested heavily in online communication with their electorate. Through Facebook and Twitter, they align and confront citizens to win over public opinion. Second, social media have transformed the way city governments engage with citizens; local governments have started to encourage the use of social media platforms to help improve democracy, promote transparency and citizen’s knowledge of the political process and their engagement.

However, the ubiquitous implementation of social media platforms in political communication and local governance is not without problems. Over the past two years, critical studies have shown that social media can help promote and manipulate particular viewpoints, processes, and outcomes. European discussions over social media as promotors of populism, hate speech, and fake news have prompted academics in various fields (from political science, media studies, communication theory, governance studies) to reflect on the dynamics underpinning social media platforms and their effects on media institutions and democratic processes. We will be looking into the local, national and supra-national (European, global) dimensions of this wicked problem.

Prof. dr José van Dijck (UU), drs. Andrea Vreede (Rome), dr. Pepijn Corduwener (UU).

5 ECTS, assigned upon completion of the final essay.

Active contribution to discussions, and a final essay, to be submitted within one month after the stay in Rome.

Course language

The masterclass is open to a maximum of 15 selected participants from all relevant disciplines (particularly political sciences, governance studies as well as media studies) at (R)MA or PhD-level, as well as to early career academics. Prospective participants from all over the world may present their candidature.

Fees and Bursaries
Selected participants from KNIR partner universities (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Utrecht, Radboud Universiteit, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) will receive full KNIR bursaries, comprising all expenses related to the masterclass (tuition, lodging in Rome, conference fees, etc.). Additionally they receive a €100,- reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after submission of their final essay. Personal expenses, including meals, are not included.

Selected participants from other institutions need to cover their own expenses, but will be housed at the KNIR at a reduced rate of € 200,- for the duration of the Masterclass.

Applications are welcome until 15 January 2019. Notice on acceptance will follow before 1 February 2019. Candidates can apply by filling out the application form via the link below, submitting a motivation letter, a recent CV and an updated overview of study results.

Facilities in Rome
All participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical centre of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Royal Netherlands Institute.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621

The study load is the equivalent of 5 ECTS (140 hours) and comprises eight days of study in Rome. Each student should arrange with his/her university whether the course can be part of the existing curriculum. Upon successful completion of the course, the KNIR will provide a certificate mentioning the study load and evaluation tools.