MC433      Half Unit
Technology and Justice

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Seeta Peña Gangadharan


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.

This course is 'controlled access', meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. If the course is oversubscribed, priority will be given to students with the course listed on their Programme Regulations. Whilst we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course.


There are no formal pre-requisites, but students are required to prepare a statement of no more than 200 words in response to the following question, which must be submitted when selecting this course on LSE for You: What, if any, past experiences (professional, scholarly, or otherwise) have shaped your interest in technology and justice, and how do you define justice?

Prior to the first session, students must also view a recorded lecture and complete select readings.

Please do not email the teacher with personal expressions of interest as these are not required and do not influence who is offered a place.

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.


30 hours of seminars in the AT.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, view and respond to interactive lectures, participate in seminar activities, and contribute to online discussion. Students are also expected to produce one piece of coursework, 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. (2010). Scales of justice: Reimagining political space in a globalizing world. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • 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.
  • 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 reading

  • Ali, S. M. (2016). A brief introduction to decolonial computing. XRDS: Crossroads 22(4), 16–21.
  • Christians, C. G., Glasser, T. L., McQuail, D., Nordenstreng, K., & White, R. A. (2009). Characteristics of normative theory. In Normative theories of the media: Journalism in democratic societies (pp. 65–88). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  • 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.
  • Kleine, D. (2011). The capability approach and the ‘medium of choice’: steps towards conceptualising information and communication technologies for development. Ethics and Information Technology 13:119–130.
  • Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York: New York University Press.
  • Morozov, E. (2020). Freedom as a service: The New Digital Feudalism and the Future of the City. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • 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.
  • Taylor, L., & Dencik, L. (2020). Constructing commercial data ethics. Technology and regulation 1-10.
  • Verster, F. (2002). A lion's trail. South Africa: Lion’s Trail Production.


Presentation (30%) in the AT.
Essay (70%, 2400 words) in the WT.

Key facts

Department: Media and Communications

Total students 2022/23: 35

Average class size 2022/23: 11

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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