MC401      Half Unit
Mediated Resistance and Activism

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Bart Cammaerts


This course is available on the MSc in Media and Communications and MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course focuses on the various ways in which citizens, activists and social movements use, appropriate and shape media and communication technologies to resist, to mobilise for resistance, but also how resistance and movement discourses are represented and mediated, by activists themselves through movement and social media as well as by the mainstream media. The course will address several aspects of the intricate relationship between media and communication, resistance and activism. The course is organised around the core-concept of the 'mediation opportunity structure' referring to the opportunities for agency through media and communication, as well as the structural constraints preventing agency and stifling dissent. Both Information and Communication Technologies (ICT's) and more traditional media will be considered and a dialectical perspective on power and the relationship between agency and structure is adopted with a particular emphasis on strategies of resistance and circumvention.

At a theoretical level this course is situated at the intersection of social movement theory, political theory and media and communication theory. The different lectures will focus on various aspects of the mediation opportunity structure, including action repertoires, self-mediation practices, mainstream media representations, counter-hegemony, networked opportunities – using examples from various regions in the world. Some case-studies will be situated at a local level of analysis, others at a national, while again others might relate to regional contexts or even transnational levels of contestation.

Seminar discussion revolve around relevant readings as well as case study presentations. The seminars are student-led. 


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advanced reading, prepare seminar presentations and submit one essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

  • Bailey, Olga, Cammaerts, Bart and Carpentier, Nico (2007) Understanding Alternative Media, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Barassi, Veronica (2015) Activism on the Web: Everyday Struggles Against Digital Capitalism. London: Routledge.
  • Bennett, Lance and Segerberg, Alexandra (2013) The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the personalization of Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cammaerts, Bart (2018) The Circulation of Anti-Austerity Protest. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan
  • Cammaerts, Bart, Matoni, Alice and McCurdy, Patrick (eds) (2013) Mediation and Protest Movements. Bristol: Intellect.
  • Caygill, Howard (2013) On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance. London: Bloomsbury Press.
  • della Porta, Donnatella and Diani, Mario (2006) Social Movements: An introduction - 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Dencik, Lina and Leistert, Oliver (eds) (2015) Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest: Between Control and Emancipation. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Downing, John (2001) Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Earl, Jennifer and Kimport, Katrina (2011) Digitally Enabled Social Change: activism in the Internet Age. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
  • Fenton, Natalie (2016) Digital, Political, Radical. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Johnston, Hank (2014) What is a Social Movement?. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Martín-Barbero, Jesús (1993) Communication, Culture and Hegemony: From the Media to Mediation. London: Sage.
  • Mortesen, Mette, Neumayer, Christina and Poell, Thomas (eds) (2019) Social Media Materialities and Protest: Critical Reflections. New York: Routledge.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Teachers' comment

This course examines the various ways in which media and communication are relevant to activism, to social movements and ultimately to social and political change. It will help students understand how not only media representations, but also the use of media and communication tools by activists are shaping contemporary activism and resistance.  

Students' comments

"Lecturer was very engaging, lectures and seminars were very insightful."

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2020/21: 49

Average class size 2020/21: 16

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills