Algorithms have become central actors in today's digital world. In areas as diverse as social media, journalism, education, healthcare, and policing, computing technologies increasingly mediate communication processes. This course will provide an introduction to the social and cultural forces shaping the construction, institutionalization, and uses of algorithms. In so doing, we will explore how algorithms relate to political issues of modernization, power, and inequality. Readings will range from social scientific analyses to media coverage of ongoing controversies relating to Big Data. Students will leave the course with a better appreciation of the broader challenges associated with researching, building, and using algorithms.