Digital Civil Society Lab


A curated collection of readings that have informed the research, writing and thinking of the Digital Civil Society Lab team and fellows.

Democracy and publics

  • Alexander, Jeffrey C. The Civil Sphere. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Calhoun, Craig. “The public good as a social and cultural project,” in W.W. Powell and E. Clemens (Eds.) Private action and the public good, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998, pp. 20-35.
  • De Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America, 1838.
  • Dewey, John, The public and its problems, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1927.
  • Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Square: An Inquiry into a category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991 (1962).
  • Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of
    Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004.
  • Marres, Noortje. “The Invention of Material Publics: Returns to American Pragmatism.” Material Participation. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2012. 28–59.
  • Mouffe, Chantal. The Democratic Paradox. Verso, 2000.
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.
  • Persily, Nathaniel. “Can Democracy Survive the Internet?” Journal of Democracy, April 2017, Volume 28, Number 2, pp 63-76.
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. “Of The Social Contract.” In The Social Contract and other later political writings, Edited by Victor Gourevitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Varneliz, Kazys (ed.) Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly
    Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425.

Theories of civil society, nonprofits, and foundations

  • Calhoun, Craig. “Civil society and the public sphere.” Public Culture 5 (3), pp 267-280
  • Corry, Olaf. “Theorizing the Third Sector,” R. Taylor (ed.), Third Sector Research, Springer  Science+Business Media, LLC 2010.  DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-5707-8_2, 11
  • Hansmann, Henry. “Economic Theories of Nonprofit Organizations,” in W.W. Powell, ed., The Nonprofit Sector, Yale University Press, 1987.
  • Molz, Redmond Kathleen and Phyllis Dain. Civic Space/Cyberspace: The American Public Library in the Information Age, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Reich, Rob. “On the role of foundations in democracies,” in Rob Riech, Chiara Cordelli, & Lucy Bernholz, Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
  • Sievers, BruceCivil Society, Philanthropy, and the Fate of the Commons. Medford, MA: Tufts University Press, 2010. Young, Dennis. “Government Failure Theory” and “Contract Failure Theory,” in International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration, 1989.
  • Young, Dennis. “Government Failure Theory” and “Contract Failure Theory,” in International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration, 1989.

Digital networks and society

  • Barlow, John Perry.  A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 1996.
  • Benkler, YochaiThe Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale University Press, 2006.
  • Berners Lee, TimWeaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web, Harper Business, 2000.
  • Deuze, Mark. “Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture.” The Information Society 22.2 (2006): 63–75. Taylor and Francis+NEJM.
  • Lessig, LarryCode and Other Laws of Cyberspace, v. 2.0, second edition, 2006
  • McKinnon, RebeccaConsent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, Basic Books, 2013.
  • Morozov, EvgenyThe Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, New York: Public Affairs, 2012.
  • Turner, FredFrom Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Weiner, NorbertCybernetics. Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1948.
  • Winner, Langdon. “Mythinformation.” The whale and the reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
  • Wu, TimThe Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Knopf, 2010.

Liberties and rights

  • Balkin, Jack . M. “Digital speech and democratic culture: A theory of freedom of expression for the information society.” New York University Law Review 2004, 79(1): 1-55.
  • Brunton, Finn and Helen NissenbaumObfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2016.
  • Crawford, Kate and Jason Schultz, “Big Data and Due Process: Toward a Framework to Redress Predictive Privacy Harms,” Boston College Law Review, v 55, n 33, 2014.
  • Garton Ash, TimothyFree Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.
  • Klonick, Kate. “The New Governors: The People, Rules and Processes Governing Online Speech,” Harvard Law Review, volume 131.
  • Nissenbaum, Helen. A Contextual Approach to PrivacyDædalus, 140 (4) Fall 2011.
  • Postigo, HectorThe Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Richards, NealIntellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Schudson, MichaelThe Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945-1975. Harvard University Press, 2015.


  • Boyle, JamesThe Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, 2003. Web. 28 Aug. 2017.
  • Doctorow, CoryInformation doesn’t want to be free: Laws for the Internet Age, San Francisco: McSweeneys, 2014.
  • Lanier, Jaron. Who owns the future? New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.
  • Perzanowski, Aaron and Jason SchultzThe End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016.
  • Schneier, BruceData and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect your Data and Control the World, W.W. Norton, 2016.


  • Braman, SandraChange of State: Information, Policy, and Power. MIT Press, 2009.
  • Castells, Manuel. “The New Public Sphere: global civil society, communications networks and global governance.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 6161(1) pp 78-93.
  • Castells, ManuelCommunication Power. 2 edition. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Etzioni, Oren. “How to regulate AI.” The New York Times. September 2, 2017.
  • Gillespie, Tarleton. “Governance of and by platforms.” In Jean Burgess, Thomas Poell, & Alice Marwick (Eds) Sage Handbook of Social Media, London: Sage, 2017.
  • Goldsmith, Jack and Tim WuWho Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Hess, Charlotte and Elinor OstromUnderstanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.
  • Rieder, Bernhard. “Democratizing Search? From Critique to Society-Oriented Design.” Deep Search: The Politics of Search beyond Google. Ed. Konrad Becker and Felix Stalder. Innsbruck etc.: Studien Verlag, 2009. 133–151.
  • Stallman, RichardFree Software, Free Society: Selected essays of Richard M. Stallman, Boston, MA: Free Software Foundation, 2002.
  • Zittrain, JonathanThe Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

Activism and organizational forms

  • Barassi, V. (2015). Activism on the web: Everyday struggles against digital capitalism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
  • Castells, M. (2012). Networks of outrage and hope. Social movements in the internet age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Coleman, GabriellaCoding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. Princeton University Press, 2012.
  • Ethan Zuckerman, Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism
  • Gerbaudo, P. (2017). Social media teams as digital vanguards: the question of leadership in the management of key Facebook and Twitter accounts of Occupy Wall Street, Indignados and UK Uncut. Information Communication and Society, 20(2),185-202.
  • Han, HahrieHow organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Juris, Jeffrey S. 2012. Reflections on# Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation. American Ethnologist 39(2): 259-279.
  • Karpf, DavidThe MoveOn EffectThe Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy, Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Karpf, DavidAnalytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Lievrouw, LeahAlternative and Activist New Media. Polity, 2011.
  • Lih, AndrewThe Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia, Hyperion, 2009.
  • Lovink, G. & Rossiter, N. (2015). Network cultures and the architecture of decision. In L. Denik& O. Leistert (Eds.), Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest (219-232). London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Lovink, Geert. 2011. Network Without a Cause: A critique of social media. London: Polity Press.
  • Shirky, ClayHere Comes Everybody: The power of organizing without organizations, Penguin, 2008.
  • Tilly, Charles, and Sidney G. TarrowContentious Politics. Oxford University Press, 2015.  Tufecki, Zeynep. Twitter and Tear GasThe power and fragility of networked protest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.
  • Tufecki, ZeynepTwitter and Tear GasThe power and fragility of networked protest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.
  • Valentine, Melissa A., Daniela Retelny, Alexandra To, Negar Rahmati, Tulsee Doshi, and Michael S. Bernstein. “Flash Organizations: Crowdsourcing Complex Work By Structuring Crowds As Organizations,” CHI 2017, May 06 – 11, 2017, Denver, CO, USA. CHI 2017, May 06 – 11, 2017, Denver, CO, USA

Internet freedom, democracy, civil society

  • Barabas, Chelsea, Neha Narula & Ethan Zuckerman. “Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization: Back to the Future?”  MIT Media Lab, August 2017.
  • Dean, Jodi. “Why the Net Is Not a Public Sphere.” Constellations 10.1 (2003): 95–112. Wiley Online Library.
  • Deibert, Ron. “Cyberspace under siege.” In Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner (eds), Authoritarianism goes Global, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.
  • Rutzen, Douglas. “Civil Society Under Assault,”  In Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner (eds), Authoritarianism goes Global, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.