Culture Wars in the West: Politics of the Digital Era

Course NameCulture Wars in the West: Politics of the Digital Era
Course CodePOS351 / POS651
DescriptionTerm Culture wars have become synonymous with current ever-increasing divisions of societies across Western countries. Nobody asks anymore whether Culture, Values, Identity, and Religion do matter in (World) politics today. This course helps to answer more specific questions instead: Why and how topics like migration and integration, identity politics and gender, bioethics, faith, and religious symbols, borders, and state sovereignty became new key political cleavages – and why now? Not only are these issues powerful enough to decide elections, shape prospects of liberal democracy, as well as international affairs incl. European integration and the relations between the West and „the Rest“. They have been even tearing apart family members, long-life friends and local communities. Why the Western societies increasingly fail to agree on basic common principles and even on essential facts? What causes the polarization, atomization and even radicalization? Has it been mainly the digital revolution, advanced dissinformation/manipulation campaigns and the psychological mechanisms of vitual communication? Are there real new threats and insecurities on the rise? Is then ´political correctness´ or rather the populist politicians, rise of nationalism and emotional politics to be blamed? In this course, we will investigate together what are the preconditions and consequences of these trends. Also, possible solutions will be discussed as well as individual topics of ´culture wars´ documented by abundant cases from various Western countries. While the main focus is put on political and international aspects, the socio- cultural, psychological, and technological context must be taken seriously as well in this interdisciplinary endeavor to understand these current, dramatic and history-making changes of Western societies and politics.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Understand better the institutional, political, technological, and socio-cultural preconditions and consequences of the current changes in Western societies which lead to increasing polarization along the lines of cultural issues and basic worldviews;
– Formulate and defend their own argumentation and worldviews;
– Cultivate the key attitude which determines success and effectivity of communicating sensitive issues. It consists in accepting opponents respectfully while identifying the essential positions and values which establish the disagreement.
SchoolSchool of International Relations and Diplomacy (IRD)
LevelBachelor / Master
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS