ELE 3905 Social Media and Society

ELE 3905 Social Media and Society

Course code: 
ELE 3905
Communication and Culture
Course coordinator: 
Christoph Lutz
Course name in Norwegian: 
Social Media and Society
Product category: 
Bachelor - Programme Electives
2024 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Social media are increasingly permeating all aspects of society, from personal communication between friends, to work life and business transactions, to news consumption and entertainment. In Norway, 85% of the population use social media regularly and for many people, especially young ones, social media constitutes an essential part of their everyday lives. While social media platforms and digital cultures constantly evolve, making it hard to keep abreast of recent trends, academic research offers valuable insights and has investigated social media intensively. This research is often interdisciplinary and situated at the intersection of established academic disciplines such as media and communication, sociology, computer science, psychology, information systems, business administration, economics, political science, philosophy, and law. The community of researchers who study social media and its societal implications have used the term “Social media and society” to describe the field (including a journal and a conference with this name).

The course engages with this field of research and introduces current developments at the intersection of social media and society. A key goal is to equip the students with the knowledge and tools to critically reflect on important social aspects of today’s social media world such as inequality, participation and engagement, (big) data eco-systems, privacy, self-presentation, and digital culture. Next to theoretical knowledge, the students will also gain practical experience through hands-on guest lectures, exercises and assignments.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

After completing the course students shall learn to:

  • Navigate current research on social media and society and recognize important topics and trends (up-to-date knowledge)
  • Approach the topic from a broad international perspective, understanding how social media are embedded into society in different countries and contexts (cultural awareness)
  • Reflect on the role of platforms and identify key players, functionalities, affordances, and business models (technological foundations)
  • Interpret the role of social media for different communities and groups, understanding how they use them and might benefit or suffer from them (contextual and empathic competencies)
Learning outcomes - Skills

After completing the course students will be able to:

  • Develop a meaningful social media value proposition for an existing organization
  • Analyze social media audiences in a structured and intuitive way
  • Use social media in a more aware and systematic manner
  • Present insights about social media convincingly
General Competence

Upon completion of this course students will have an understanding of current key questions and debates around social media, but also the requisite knowledge that will help them to fundamentally navigate and anticipate social and organizational changes. These include the major technological, social, and economic developments on social media, and the ensuing implications for individuals as well as businesses – and within the business world especially communication and marketing professionals.

Course content
  • Introduction: technological change, the relevance of social media and course organization
  • Definitions of social media, history, and affordances
  • The platform eco-system: different social media platforms and their specificities
  • Social media use, digital inequality, and comparative uptake across contexts
  • Self-branding, self-presentation, and impression management on social media
  • Social media marketing: fundamentals, word-of-mouth, and influencer marketing, case study and practical
  • Digital culture and social media community dynamics
  • Privacy, data protection, and dataveillance
  • Trust dynamics on social media
  • The future of social media
Teaching and learning activities

The course will consist of the following elements:

  • Formal lectures for basics of the topics and to provide a conceptual framework
  • Exercises and cases for deepening knowledge as well as for applying theoretical knowledge to real-world situations

Moreover, a collaboration/practice partner, in the form of a private company, public institution or NGO, presents their communication approach and social media strategy, preparing the students for the project paper.

The project paper (maximum 20 pages) may be solved in groups of 2-4 or in exceptional cases individually. The task is to imagine that they are communication consultants and experts in social media. The task will be to come up with an idea how a practice partner can use social media, and adjacent technologies such as mobile apps, to engage their stakeholders or a specific community among the stakeholders.

The paper should be written according to scientific standards, be creative and employ the key concepts of the lectures. The paper should also include a short literature review, methods section, and an introduction as well as a conclusion. The term paper will be due after the teaching period of the course has ended.

The paper is preceded by a non-graded presentation towards the end of the semester in which the students can pitch their ideas and show the progress they have made so far on the paper, getting feedback that can be implemented for the term paper.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

The students should bring some flexibility and open-mindedness to the course. Certain (ungraded) exercises and tasks might involve discussing personal views and habits and the lecture is intended to create a climate of trust among all participants, where open discussions are possible without negative repercussions. 

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

You will find detailed information about the assignment before the course starts.


Higher Education Entrance Qualification


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.


Required prerequisite knowledge

The course has synergies with other program courses, including DIG 3500 Connected communication, DIG 3620 Digital data and methods, DIG 3520 Power and Persuasion in digital society, DIG 3420 Communication and Involvement, but it is not necessary to have completed these courses for taking the current course.

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Submission PDF
Exam/hand-in semester: 
First Semester
Group/Individual (1 - 4)
1 Semester(s)
In groups of 2-4 or in exceptional cases individually, the students have to write a term paper (maximum 20 pages).
The paper is preceded by a non-graded presentation towards the end of the semester in which the students can pitch their ideas and show the progress they have made so far on the paper, getting feedback that can be implemented for the term paper.
Exam code: 
ELE 39051
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Student workload
39 Hour(s)
Participation in teaching sessions, presentations.
Feedback activities and counselling
6 Hour(s)
Group work in class.
Prepare for teaching
60 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
50 Hour(s)
Work on term paper.
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 7,5 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 200 hours.