Max van der Breggen
Student Master Digitalisation, Surveillance and Societies
For my bachelors I did the interdisciplinary program Politics, Psychology, Law, and Economics at the University of Amsterdam, where I majored in economics. Afterwards, I decided to take an entirely different route than economics and go for the MSc. Cybersecurity Governance at Leiden University.
In completing the Master programme at Leiden, I realized that while it thoroughly discussed the security angle to cybersecurity and digitalisation, it lacked focus on the sociological aspects of technological development, the implications for identity, politics, and society. Also, I wanted to do more research and find a focus in this relatively new and wide academic field. I found the master specialisation Digitalisation, Surveillance & Societies and realized it might bring me those things. So, I decided to apply!
Passion for digital sociology
What makes this master specialisation interesting is the fact that everyone there shares a very specific passion for the topic of study. No one passively decides to move into the direction of digital sociology, everyone sitting with us in the classroom came specifically for the content we cover. This makes for very interesting and productive discussions. Also, given the fact that the academic community around this topic is very small the readings we do and authors we discuss - there’s a sort of intimacy to it, which I really enjoy.
Unboxing the Algorithms
My favorite course, though I haven’t even started it, is absolutely going to be Unboxing the Algorithms. That is the type of course you don’t find unless you end up doing something like a computer science degree. Still, if you’re interested in societal aspects of digitalisation, such insight is extremely important and relevant. I’m very happy to be part of a master specialisation that provides it.
I personally did not expect there to be such a strong focus on qualitative research methods, especially in the methods courses. I did not have any qualitative research experience before starting Digitalisation, Surveillance & Societies, which initially was something I struggled with quite a lot. Luckily, peers and teachers were very helpful in working through that and coming out the other end. Now I am way more confident doing qualitative research.
Plans for the future
The more I read about digitalisation and the way it interacts with our societies, sometimes in ways that can be considered destructive or non-progressive, the more I am motivated to write or think about digital policies that are future proof. Then again, I also feel intensely motivated to continue researching this topic, pulling me towards pursuing a PhD. I guess at this point, time will have to tell which direction I head in.