Research team

Expertise

My research is dedicated to the study of digital societies, societies in which media environments, human communication and cultures are impacted by digital media and technology. I focus on processes of social change because of the digital, which are referred to as processes of digitalization and datafication (how data is increasingly a source of social knowledge).

Rethinking Inclusion and Gender empowerment: A participatory action research (ReIncluGen). 01/01/2023 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

The ReIncluGen project aims to conceptualise gender empowerment building on the innovative theoretical concept of 'situated intersectionality' and study, co-evaluate and co-develop good practices of civil society organisations (CSOs) and media outlets that fight structural gender violence and promote gender empowerment and inclusion. Using participatory and co-creative action research with European CSOs and their members will help us to examine the situated meanings of gender empowerment within different societal spheres with explicit attention to migrant women and girls and their diversity and agency. In doing so we will include a wide variety of CSOs working with and for migrant women and girls focusing on themes such as gender equality, (sexual) violence, representation, socio-cultural participation and labour market integration using education, networking, legal counselling and psychological therapy. To consider the socio-political landscape, we will focus on Austria, Belgium, Italy, Poland and Spain, which vary in terms of gender policies and inequalities and may also impact the CSO practises to foster empowerment. The research objectives are threefold. The first is to use a bottom-up and participatory approach to move beyond the written diversity and gender equality policies and unpack the different conceptualisations of gender 'empowerment' across spheres and contexts. The second is to conduct an evaluation and impact assessment of empowering and inclusive trajectories applied in distinct CSOs in order to co-design innovative tools to support their gender empowerment and inclusion. We aim to understand their rationale, linkage with prevailing policies, contextual preconditions of their success, and study their applicability across different organisations, countries and cultural contexts. The third is to examine the discourses and actions of media and digital cultures in strengthening gender empowerment and how they are used and implemented by CSOs.

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  • Research Project

Media Discourses on Societal Crises. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

Current society faces multiple challenges that are perceived as crises. Recent examples include the COVID-19 health crisis, the climate change crisis, the global energy crisis and the 'trust crisis', eroding trust in government, science, etc. They constitute complex, 'wicked problems', which are hard to resolve, and are the object of divergent views. What becomes increasingly apparent is that knowledge of the facts does not suffice to understand discussions of these complex events and evolutions. The ways these challenges are spoken about, how they are represented and conceptualized, is what we understand here as crisis discourse. Rather than simply capturing reality, discourses give meaning, attribute causes and consequences, and express moral views. Consequently, discussions on societal challenges can be viewed as a discursive struggle where different views of reality compete for dominance. For example, in discussions on climate change, ecological discourses compete with economical and social ones. Media play a crucial role in this discursive struggle to make sense of these societal challenges and construct them as crises. Media act as meaning-making devices, giving sense to the complex reality that surrounds us. Social media immediately come to mind, as highly influential platforms spreading ideas. However, 'legacy' media, such as newspapers and TV, also continue to play a key role in broadcasting and legitimizing certain worldviews and discourses. All these media are strongly intertwined in our current digitized and 'mediatized' society, where media both reflect and impact societal events on an everyday basis. The aim of the challenge we propose is to better understand the workings of competing mediated discourses on current societal crises. Drawing on Harold Lasswell's classic definition of communication, we ask the question: Who says what, in which channel, to whom, and with what effect? The focus is on 'what': the way a certain topic is talked about and made sense of. Here, the candidate uses one or more of the methods the PI's are specialized in to analyze media content on a topic of their choice: quantitative and qualitative content analysis, framing analysis, discourse analysis and digital ethnography (see further 2.2). The aim is to chart the competing discourses on a particular societal challenge that is perceived as a crisis, and to get a grasp on the discursive landscape, which includes attention to 'who' (the actors uttering certain discourse, such as journalists, politicians, experts) and 'in which channel' (TV, newspapers, social media, ...). Optionally, the candidate may also investigate the audience side ('to whom'), aiming to understand how media users deal with competing media discourses, and how these affect them ('with what effect'). Contrary to the linear nature of Lasswell's communication model, the research will also acknowledge the complex interaction between these different aspects of the communication process (for instance, audience members also producing discourse by commenting on social media).

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  • Research Project

Social Media and Young People's Intimacies: A Digital Ethnography into the Breakdown of Public Trust in Social Media Platforms. 01/04/2022 - 31/03/2023

Abstract

There have been significant investments in researching the concerning effects of social media on young people's intimacies (infringement of rights, social-psychological well-being, harmed sexual reputations, health, and bodies). Yet, this project argues there is a lack of understanding of how social media platforms and their value-driven operations (e.g., a focus on commercialization and datafication) are causing new public concerns and conflicts related to young people's intimacies. Therefore, this project investigates public controversies and societal breakdowns of trust in social media platforms. The proposed research explores two recent and high-impact cases in the public breakdown of trust in Instagram and Facebook. Using a digital ethnographic approach, this project maps these public concerns and controversies over young people's digital intimacies and examines the public demands for accountability from social media platforms. Situating this public breakdown of trust in a broader context, this project seeks to initiate a new agenda to study social media and young people's intimacies that go beyond the effects of social media. It argues for a serious engagement with the operations and core values of social media platforms and how they cause public conflict and debates on intimacy. This newly proposed agenda shifts the focus to the responsibility of social media platforms and their operations in understanding the impact of social media on young people's intimacy.

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  • Research Project