MC433      Half Unit
Technology and Justice

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Seeta Peña Gangadharan FAW 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.


Students should apply by answering a few questions during Course Choice. Prior to the first class, students must also view a recorded lecture and complete select readings.

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

All students are expected to complete advance reading, prepare for and participate in seminar activities, and contribute to online discussion on Moodle. Students are also expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in MT, which consists of short answers to four essay questions. Questions will be made available to students up to seven days prior to the due date.

Indicative reading

  • Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin, pp. 25-42.
  • Fraser, N. (2003). Social justice in the age of identity politics: Redistribution, recognition, and participation. In N. Fraser and A. Honneth (eds.) Redistribution or recognition? A political-philosophical exchange. London: Verso.
  • Hildebrandt, M. (2015). Smartness and agency, Intricate entanglements of law and technology. In Smart technologies and the end(s) of law: Novel entanglements of law and technology. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • 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). Freedom and foundations of justice. In Development as freedom. New York: Knopf, pp. 54-86.
  • Young, I. M. (2000). Inclusion and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Additional content:

  • Commission on Freedom of the Press, & Chafee, Z. (1947). What can be done. Government and mass communications: A report from the Commission on Freedom of the Press. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, pp. 79-95.
  • Creemier, R. (2015). Planning outline for the construction of a social credit system (2014-2020). China copyright and media.
  • 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.
  • International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems. (1980). Communication tomorrow. In Many voices, one world: Communication and society, today and tomorrow: Towards a new more just and more efficient world information and communication order. London: K. Page, pp. V-1-18.
  • Jayaram, M. (2015, August 15). Aadhaar debate: Privacy is not an elitist concern – it's the only way to secure equality.
  • Kleine, D. (2013). State ICT policies in practice: E-procurement. In Technologies of choice? ICTs, development, and the capabilities approach. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York: New York University Press.
  • Presidential Commission. (1999). Chile: Moving towards the information society. Santiago, Chile: Presidential Commission, pp. 8-13.
  • Roberts, G., & Klibanoff, H. (2007). The race beat: The press, the civil rights struggle, and the awakening of a nation. New York: Vintage.
  • Salazar, J. F. (2010). Making culture visible. In C. Rodríguez, D. Kidd, and L. Stein (eds). Making our media: Global initiatives toward a democratic public sphere. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, pp. 29-46.
  • 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.
  • Verster, F. (2002). A lion's trail. South Africa: Lion’s Trail Production.


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

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: 34

Average class size 2018/19: 17

Controlled access 2018/19: No

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