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Digital Media in India and China

Key Information

Course details
MSc Option course, Hilary Term
Reading list
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Professor Ralph Schroeder



India and China will be prominent in defining the social implications of the internet in the 21st century. That is partly because, together, they make up over a third of humanity. It is also because they offer alternative models of development for much of the world. And finally, these are mobile-centric societies. They host two large-scale experiments in identifiers for their populations, Aadhaar and the social credit system. Both also have lively online civil societies, though the state controls digital media in China and the government has tried to do so in India. This course will examine the internet in the two countries from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including ethnographies of urban and rural life and the politics of online mobilization. It will cover fandom cultures, innovation policies, and divides of gender as well as ethnicity and religion. As the TikTok conflict has shown, globalizing forces are increasingly playing out in Indo-Chinese relations, and ramify beyond. Furthermore, platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp provide many opportunities to explore under-researched topics. Some of the most exciting scholarship about the internet now concerns Asia, and there is much to learn about the challenges to democracy, growing techno-nationalist US-Chinese and Indo-Chinese rivalries, and inequalities within and between the Global North and South.

Course Objectives

This option provides MSc Social Science of the Internet students (from any disciplinary background) with a solid understanding of the social implications of the internet in an increasingly important part of the world. The course will prepare students for undertaking MSc thesis work about China and India, provide interdisciplinary perspectives on the internet, and extend the work on other courses on the degree (such as courses with internet politics and digital economy).

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students will

  • Have a solid grasp of the scholarship on digital media in India and China
  • Understand the economic, political and cultural aspects of the internet in the two countries
  • Be able to evaluate debates about the course themes from different disciplinary perspectives
  • Be able to frame research on topics related to the course themes