MC413 is about the interaction between social and economic systems with new media. From a structural point of view, this interaction can be studied from the perspective of individuals or of nation-states and global systems, but this course privileges intermediate-level structures that we call ‘institutions’. Thus, MC413 is about debates on institutional change in the presence of, and in relation to, mediating technologies. These topics are discussed from a critical theory lens, which is ideal for training us, as social scientists, to question the hidden assumptions we live with, to uncover the power structures that shape our institutions, and to imagine new and alternative institutions. One such example of institutional innovation we will discuss is a complementary currency and electronic mutual credit system that in some respects can be said to mediate a non-capitalist market.
The course relies on a theoretical framework mainly informed by three perspectives: Science and Technology Innovation Studies, Andrew Feenberg’s Critical Theory of Technology, and sociological perspectives on Monetary Theory.
The course is likely to be of interest to students who are attracted by a mix of different disciplines and by the juxtaposition of theory and practice in social and business innovation & new media. One of the main takeaways for this course will be an in-depth discussion of an empirical case study that includes most of the concepts covered by the course: the Sardex electronic mutual credit system that is complementary to “regular” money and a stark alternative to Bitcoin.