In this conference, we bring together international scholars to discuss how digital media is used to engage global citizens. How do digital media change the conditions for representative, deliberative and participatory democracy?
With regard to politicians, digital media can be used as a platform for direct interaction with citizens. Politicians can use digital media to consult citizens on their policy preferences. Citizens, on the other hand, can employ digital media to share information and connect on a variety of political issues, such as elections or political protests.
Yet, these same tools can be used in less virtuous ways. They can be employed to launch international campaigns against governments, organizations, citizens or to influence electoral processes. Citizens can use social media to harass government officials, political celebrities, and journalists. Digital media can spread misinformation, promote populist point of view and publish political manifestos of political extremists and white supremacists.
Cristian Vaccari (PhD, IULM University in Milan, 2006) is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University, and a Research Associate of the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University.
He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital and social media. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics and Chair of the Information Technology & Politics section of the American Political Science Association. He is also a member of the Committee of Experts on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies of the Council of Europe.
Shelley Boulianne is an Associate Professor in sociology at MacEwan University.
She has worked in survey research since 1997. She has managed dozens of cross-sectional surveys and several longitudinal studies as part of her work in academia, government, and the private sector.
Prior to completing her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2007), she was a project director at the University of Wisconsin Survey Center where she managed several national and longitudinal surveys.
Over the past ten years, Dr. Boulianne designed and executed a seven-wave survey of Edmontonians and four student surveys on digital media use. She also oversaw survey administration contracts for six public opinion surveys that utilized random digit dialing. These surveys were about digital media, civic and political participation, political attitudes, climate change, and environmental policies. This research has been funded through $1.5 million in grants and awards over the past ten years.
She has published in journals, such as Information, Communication, & Society, New Media & Society, Political Communication, Social Science Computer Review, Political Studies, and Communication Research. Her papers have received Best Paper awards from the American Sociological Association's section on Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology as well as the American Political Science Association's section on Information Technology and Politics.
Kari Steen-Johnsen is a Research Director and a Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo, Norway.
Steen-Johnsen’s research centers on changes in civil society in the broad sense. Her research interests include citizens’ political mobilization and participation, as well as public debate and the freedom of speech, with an emphasis on the consequences of digitalization and the emergence of social media.
Steen-Johnsen has been involved in several large-scale projects, both comparative and focusing on Norway and the Nordic countries. She recently completed a project on the impact of terrorism and terrorist threat on social and political trust, spanning the US, France, Spain, Finland and Norway and using survey-methods. Currently, she is the PI of two large-scale projects funded by the Research Council of Norway, one on the Communication Power of Politicians in a Digital Age (CEPOL), and one on Far Right Politics Online and Societal Resilience (FREXO).
A sociologist herself, Steen-Johnsen enjoys cross-disciplinary work, and regularly collaborates with political scientists and media scholars. She has published her research in journals such as New Media & Society, European Journal of Communication, Media, Culture & Society and Political Science & Politics.
Karolina Koc-Michalska is a Professor at the Department of Communication & Culture at Audencia Business School (France) and Associate Researcher at Sciences-Po Paris.
Dr. Koc-Michalska conducts comparative research projects in three languages: English, French and Polish.
She also has experience managing large projects, including a comparative study, which examined societal changes in the digitally-advanced societies (e.g., the U.S., the U.K., and France), as well as multiple longitudinal panel studies in France (2009-2017).
In addition to this project, her current work examines political communication in 28 EU countries during the European Parliament elections (2009-2014-2019). She is also working on a large set of trace data from Facebook to examine how political parties utilize populist rhetoric.
She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., New Media and Society, Political Communication, Social Science Computer Review, and the Journal of Information Technology and Politics) and has edited several special issues dedicated to political engagement and communication.
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