The course “Theories of Politics and Communication in the Information Age (GPC-312)” organised by the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Helsinki, tackles the challenges posed to democracy by digitalization, artificial intelligence and algorithms. It further considers the importance of the concepts of power, shared meanings, discursive and strategic rationality and their relationship with fundamental democratic principles such as equality, justice and the rule of law. The course is mandatory for GPC students of all three study tracks and is taught by the GPC programme director Dr S.M. Amadae.
Since 2020, as their final assignment, students of the course have written collective research papers on their chosen topic related to the theme of the course. Initially, a selected number of the research projects were published as a hard copy collection of essays, in the past two years, however, they have been published digitally on the GPC website. The research papers by students that took part in the course in the fall of 2022 are now also available on the website.
The three papers published this year examine topical questions related to digitalization and the complicated relationships between new technologies and governance, democracy and collective decision-making. The paper Surveillance Society as a Threat to Liberal Democracy in the European Union examines the ability of the European Union to intervene in the new forms of surveillance of its citizens in the information age. By studying EU laws and programmes and by using Hungary as a case study, the paper argues that as a result of targeted surveillance, citizen’s privacy has become more limited in recent years.
The authors of the paper “Your period starts in two days” Risks of period-tracking post Roe v. Wade, seek to map potential dangers of sharing health data on period-tracking applications in the context of restricted reproductive and sexual rights in the post Roe v. Wade-era. The authors identify possible threats to the bodily autonomy of users as well as the risks of the data being used for control, surveillance or even prosecution by authorities.
Lastly, the authors of Contact-Tracing Mobile Applications as Health Governance: Issues and Implications for the Future, study the digital governance of health in Finland during the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond. The paper applies the theoretical foundations of Foucault’s biopower to analyse the topic from various aspects, including privacy, ethics, information security, legitimacy and the implications of digitalised health governance for democracy.