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Master 2020/2021

Internet in Non-competitive Politics

Category 'Best Course for Career Development'
Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Category 'Best Course for New Knowledge and Skills'
Type: Elective course (Comparative Politics of Eurasia)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 2 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Instructors: Yury Kabanov
Master’s programme: Comparative Politics of Eurasia
Language: English
ECTS credits: 6

Course Syllabus


The Internet and politics have a complex interrelationship. The former changes social communication, empowers or reinforces political actors, while political regime and power relations frequently shape the dynamics of the cyberspace. It is especially clear in case of modern non-competitive regimes, as many of them try to utilize Internet to gain legitimacy, competitiveness, and eventually, regime consolidation. The means of the Internet control in non-democracies now go far beyond its blocking and censorship. The course is arranged to provide a wide comparative perspective of the Internet politics and give students hints to explore this area in their research. The course uses the MOOC Course "International Cyber Conflicts", developed by The State University of New York (https://www.coursera.org/learn/cyber-conflicts/home/welcome)
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To overview the Internet as the political space, globally and in particular regions of interest
  • To familiarize students with the contemporary research on the Internet Studies in relation to politics and governance
  • To overview the current methods, tools and policies of the Internet regulation and control in terms of comparative authoritarianism theories
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Applies the theories of comparative authoritarianism to the analysis of the political and social processes on the Internet
  • Defines the major models of the Internet policy and governance
  • Describes the peculiarities of the Internet development and governance in the regions of specialization
  • Enumerates and describes the major tools of the Internet regulation in non-democracies
  • Explains the impact of the political regime on the patterns of the Internet policy and governance
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Non-Competitive Regimes: An Overview
    Authoritarian regimes: characteristics and types. Hybrid political regimes (electoral and completive). Regime resilience and its sources: legitimation, cooptation and repression.
  • The Internet and Democratization
    Internet and political power: Reinforcement and Redistribution. Cyber-optimists. The Internet and possible democratization effects. The Arab Spring and the effects of the social media
  • The Internet Censorship in Non-Democracies
    Censorship and self-censorship on the Internet: tools and approaches. Internet – censorship in China. Access denial and disconnection in autocracies during crises.
  • Propaganda and Trolling on the Internet
    Propaganda in non-democracies: classic and modern theories. Propaganda in the social media. “Troll factories” and “astroturfing” technologies.
  • Surveillance in Autocracies and Beyond
    Surveillance and dataveillance: ethical and technical dilemmas. Security vs. freedom dilemma. Big Data and authoritarianism. Illiberal practices in democracies. Government – business relations on the Internet (Facebook and Google).
  • Consultative Authoritarianism Online
    Consultative authoritarianism and authoritarian deliberation online. E-government and eparticipation in non-democracies. Online policy participation and regime resilience.
  • Regulation: Internet Policy of Authoritarian Regimes
    Modes of the Internet regulation (L. Lessig), legal tools and coding. Internet policy actors. Reactive and proactive Internet policy. Digital economy under authoritarianism.
  • Global Internet Governance: NonDemocracies’ Stance
    Global Internet governance: timeline and main actors. Multistakeholderism and multilateralism in the Internet governance. Data nationalism and digital sovereignty in the Internet governance.
  • Case-Studies on Internet, Politics and Policy
    During the four final seminars students will discuss particular regional (country) cases of, by applying theoretical frameworks studied in the course to the country (region) evidence. Each seminar starts with a group presentation, highlighting the most important features of the Internet Politics and Policy, as well as presenting the questions to be debated on the seminar. The cases under scrutiny include: (1) the Middle East, (2) Southeast Asia, (3) the Post-Soviet State, (4) Sub-Saharan Africa.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking MOOC Quizzes
    The screenshots with the scores received should be submitted no later than one week before the final seminar
  • non-blocking In-class participation
  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Group Presentation
  • non-blocking Exam
    The final exam is held online in Zoom and Microsoft.Forms. The student must have access to the Microsoft.Forms using his (her) own student email, and have a camera and a microphone. The students should log in to Zoom 5 minutes before the start of the exam, switch on the camera and mircrophone. Then the students receive a link to the test they must complete within 1 hour. The students should keep their cameras on during the entire examination. The short-term disconnection is 3 minutes, the long-term disconnection is 4 minutes and more. In case of long-term the student may not continue the examination.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.25 * Essay + 0.2 * Exam + 0.15 * Group Presentation + 0.25 * In-class participation + 0.15 * MOOC Quizzes


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Baogang He, & Mark E. Warren. (n.d.). Authoritarian Deliberation: The Deliberative Turn in Chinese Political Development. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.AE4A1F66
  • Empowering Activists or Autocrats? : The Internet in Authoritarian Regimes. (2015). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.AFDC66B7
  • Gerschewski, J. (2013). The three pillars of stability: legitimation, repression, and co-optation in autocratic regimes. EconStor Open Access Articles, 13. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.zbw.espost.200982
  • Gerschewski, J., & Dukalskis, A. (2018). How the Internet Can Reinforce Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of North Korea. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 19, 12–19. https://doi.org/10.1353/gia.2018.0002
  • Guriev, S., & Treisman, D. (2019). Informational Autocrats†. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33(4), 100–127. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.33.4.100
  • Hintz, A., & Milan, S. (2018). “Through a glass, darkly”: Everyday acts of authoritarianism in the liberal West. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.4D09A86B
  • Kerr, J. A. (2018). Authoritarian Practices in the Digital Age| Information, Security, and Authoritarian Stability: Internet Policy Diffusion and Coordination in the Former Soviet Region. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.89583E07
  • Nathalie Maréchal. (2017). Networked Authoritarianism and the Geopolitics of Information: Understanding Russian Internet Policy. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.72437879
  • NOCETTI, J. (2015). Contest and conquest: Russia and global internet governance. International Affairs, 91(1), 111–130. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2346.12189
  • Peter Lorentzen. (2014). China’s Strategic Censorship. American Journal of Political Science, (2), 402. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12065
  • Ruijgrok, K. V. (DE-588)1141603462, (DE-576)494428678, aut. (2017). From the web to the streets : internet and protests under authoritarian regimes / Kris Ruijgrok. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.494428848

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Autocratic Breakdown and Regime Transitions: A New Data Set. (2014). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5EE19EF9
  • Best, M. L., & Wade, K. W. (2009). The Internet and Democracy: Global Catalyst or Democratic Dud? BULLETIN OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY, (4), 255. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbl&AN=RN254955796
  • Can the internet promote democracy? A cross-country study based on dynamic panel data models. (2017). Information Technology for Development. https://doi.org/10.1080/02681102.2017.1289889
  • Drezner, D. (2004). The Global Governance of the Internet: Bringing the State Back In. Political Science Quarterly (Academy of Political Science), 119(3), 477–498. https://doi.org/10.2307/20202392
  • Dukalskis, A., & Gerschewski, J. (2017). What autocracies say (and what citizens hear): proposing four mechanisms of autocratic legitimation. Contemporary Politics, 23(3), 251–268. https://doi.org/10.1080/13569775.2017.1304320
  • Groshek, J. (2010). A Time-Series, Multinational Analysis of Democratic Forecasts and Internet Diffusion. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.56D71173
  • Hellmeier, S. (2016). The Dictator’s Digital Toolkit: Explaining Variation in Internet Filtering in Authoritarian Regimes. Politics & Policy, 44(6), 1158–1191. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12189
  • Holden, K., & Van Klyton, A. (2016). Exploring the tensions and incongruities of Internet governance in Africa. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.DE9061E0
  • James, M. J. (2014). Internet use, welfare and well-being:Evidence from Africa. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.2E72FCA4
  • King, G., Pan, J. J., & Roberts, M. E. (2013). How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0003055413000014
  • Tsai, W.-H. (2016). How ‘Networked Authoritarianism’ was Operationalized in China: methods and procedures of public opinion control. Journal of Contemporary China, 25(101), 731–744. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2016.1160506
  • VANDERHILL, R. (2015). Limits on the Democratizing Influence of the Internet: Lessons from Post-Soviet States. Demokratizatsiya, 23(1), 31–56. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=asn&AN=100699704
  • Venkataswamy, S. (2013). William H. Dutton (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.4DDAED5B
  • Yan, W. (2018). Where is the Deliberative Turn Going? A Survey Study of the Impacts of Public Consultation and Deliberation in China. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.332E2A31