Universität Wien FIND

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210124 SE M5: Europäische Union und Europäisierung (2021S)

The politics of digital capitalism Europe and beyond (engl.)

9.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 21 - Politikwissenschaft
Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung

Die Lehre wird im SoSe 2021 zu Beginn voraussichtlich digital stattfinden. Je nach Lage wird auf hybride oder Vor-Ort-Lehre umgestellt. Die Lehrenden werden die konkrete Organisationsform und Lehrmethodik auf ufind und Moodle bekannt geben, wobei auch mit kurzfristigen Änderungen gerechnet werden muss.

Eine Anmeldung über u:space innerhalb der Anmeldephase ist erforderlich! Eine nachträgliche Anmeldung ist NICHT möglich.
Studierende, die der ersten Einheit unentschuldigt fern bleiben, verlieren ihren Platz in der Lehrveranstaltung.

Achten Sie auf die Einhaltung der Standards guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis und die korrekte Anwendung der Techniken wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens und Schreibens.
Plagiierte und erschlichene Teilleistungen führen zur Nichtbewertung der Lehrveranstaltung (Eintragung eines 'X' im Sammelzeugnis).
Die Lehrveranstaltungsleitung kann Studierende zu einem notenrelevanten Gespräch über erbrachte Teilleistungen einladen.


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 50 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch



MI wtl von 10.03.2021 bis 30.06.2021 09.45-11.15 Ort: Hörsaal 42 Hauptgebäude, 2.Stock, Stiege 7


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the way we live our lives and organize our societies and economies. This process of digitalization, whereby more and more of what we think, say, and do becomes mediated by digital technologies, confronts societies with a number of challenges ranging from questions of competition policy to content moderation to welfare state adjustment. Technology, however, is not social destiny. Societies can - and do - respond to these challenges very differently, which in turn changes the nature and trajectory of digitalization itself. The question then becomes: why do countries react different to digitalization, why do some deregulate while other re-regulate, why do digital platforms win some political battles but lose others? In this course, we will look at political responses to a particular set of challenges posed by digitalization: those that stem from its commodifying thrust. Commodification has two dimensions here. First, digitalization creates markets for things that were previously walled off from commercial exploitation, with the commodification of personal data and the emergence of markets for human attention being the most important example. Second, digitalization allows actors to circumvent decommodifying institutions that are meant to protect individuals from the vagaries of the market. The systematic violation of labor law by companies like Uber - who insist that their drivers are independent contractors in order to avoid labor regulations - is the most important example here. Throughout the course, we try to understand digital capitalism as well as the political responses to it, drawing on recent theoretical and empirical studies covering not just Europe but other countries as well.

Learning Outcomes
The course aims to familiarize students with central theoretical insights and empirical findings from the emerging literature on the (comparative) politics and political economy of digitalization. At the end of the course, students should be able to

• describe and understand how digitalization is commodifying, but also how it is not just a technologically but a deeply political and politically contested process;

• explain why digital companies are sometimes regulated and sometimes not and summarize the key theoretical insights and empirical findings of the literature on the comparative politics of digitalization;

• apply these insights to empirical projects of their own.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

You need to submit all the required assignments to pass the course. Your final grade will be the weighted average of these assignments. What is important to us when it comes to grading are two things. First, stick to the task at hand. If your response paper is meant to end with a question, end with a question. If your presentation is meant to be 5 minutes, make it no more than 6. If your term paper is meant to discuss one question in around 4000 words, don't try to answer half a dozen in 8000 words. It's almost a dad thing to say, but these skills are important not just at a university, but in every type of job. Second, put a bit of effort into it, or at least make it look that way. Have some decent formatting. But also, try to be clear and crisp, which is often harder than writing long and convoluted sentences. Try to prepare a presentation that you yourself would like to listen to: short, clear points, that highlight anything that you found confusing or unclear. You don't need to understand everything, have read a ton of additional literature, or write in the most elaborate way to get a very good grade. Just stick to the task and try to make sense.

You are required to attend each session, and we encourage you to prepare for and actively participate in them. However, if you really can't make it, just reach out to us, these things happen once or twice a term.

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

Students are required to attend classes and come prepared (i.e., having done and thought about the readings). In addition, there will be three types of assignments that together make up the final grade.

• First, for three sessions of their choosing, students need to write short response papers (half a page) that reflect on the readings and end with a question for the class (25%). And remember, questions end with a question mark.

• Second, they are required to deliver a very short input presentation (around 5-10 minutes) for one session as well as prepare discussion points for the class (e.g., questions, empirical examples) (25%). The former is meant to quickly summarize the main points of the reading(s) and the latter is meant to kick off and organize the discussion.

• Lastly, students need to write a relatively short term paper on a topic related to the course (up to 4000 words) (50%). The paper can be theoretical or empirical and is meant to hone in on one particular question that the students can pick themselves (although they should briefly discuss this with us in advance).


Students need no prior knowledge of academic debates on digitalization to successfully participate in the course. A general interest in the topic, basic English language skills, and a broad familiarity with the European Union are sufficient. In their assignments, students are expected to relate to the seminar literature that touches upon central debates in the area of the comparative politics and political economy of digital capitalism.


Cohen, J. E. (2019). Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism. Oxford University Press, USA.

Couldry, N., & Mejias, U. A. (2019). ‘Data Colonialism: Rethinking Big Data’s Relation to the Contemporary Subject’, Television & New Media, 20(4), 336–349.

Culpepper, P. D., & Thelen, K. (2019). Are We All Amazon Primed? Consumers and the Politics of Platform Power. Comparative Political Studies, 53(2), 288–318.

Zuboff, S. (2019) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power: Public Affairs

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Letzte Änderung: Mo 07.06.2021 09:48