MC433      Half Unit
Technology and Justice

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Seeta Gangadharan TW2 7.01I


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society, MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance), MSc in Media, Communication and Development and MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Apply by answering a few questions during Course Choice.

Course content

This course addresses questions of justice and inequity in relation to communication technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries. It begins with two premises: 1) communication technologies are critical in shaping the conditions for individual and collective self-government, and 2) policies that regulate such technologies influence the nature of democracy and inclusion in society today. The course engages historical perspectives, normative theories of justice and democracy, and legal theories of technology and innovation to assess the power of communication technologies and consider their costs and benefits to historically marginalized groups. In so doing, this course questions the adequacy of regulation in the development and deployment of technologies which exacerbate existing social, political, and economic divides, on the one hand, or address or alleviate such divides, on the other. The course will primarily focus on histories and contexts of marginalized groups in the United States and the Global South.

The first part of the course will introduce students to the theoretical and historical frameworks for the course and concentrate on mass communication technologies of the 20th century, such as print and broadcasting, and policy debates highlighting issues of justice and inequity. The second part of the course will centre on digital communication technologies in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and examine the intersection between networked communication, justice, and rights in historically marginalized communities. The third part will investigate innovations in automated technologies with respect to redistribution and recognition, issues core to the notion of social justice. By the end of the course, students will be able to evaluate differences between justice-based and rights-based approaches, explore the nature of digital inclusion, and compare the nature of communication inequalities across technologies.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the MT.

The formative essay will consist of an annotated outline (of approximately 1000-1200 words), which will form the basis of the summative essay, and a reflective supplement (300-500 words) that asks students to comment on what they learned from the process.

Indicative reading

Cyril, M. A. (2005). Media and marginalization. In R. McChesney, R. Newman, and B. Scott (eds.). The future of media: Resistance and reform in the 21st century (pp. 97-104). New York: Seven Stories Press.

D’Arcy, J. (1969). Direct broadcast satellites and the right of man to communicate. EBU Review 118:14-18.

Gandy, O. H. (2009). Rational discrimination. In Coming to terms with chance: Engaging rational discrimination and cumulative disadvantage. Farnham, VT: Ashgate, pp. 55-76.

Kleine, D. (2013). State ICT policies in practice: E-procurement. In Technologies of choice? ICTs, development, and the capabilities approach. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 163-200.

Lessig, L. (1999). Code and other laws of cyberspace. New York: Basic Books.

Rawls, J. (1971). Justice as fairness. In A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, pp. 3-40.

Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Knopf.

Silverstone, R. (2007). Hospitality and justice. Media and morality: On the rise of the mediapolis. London: Polity Press, pp. 136-161.

Sunder, M. (2012). Fair culture. In From goods to a good life: Intellectual property and global justice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 82-10.

Young, I. M. (2000). Inclusion and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Presentation (30%) in the MT.
Essay (70%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2016/17: 23

Average class size 2016/17: 12

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills