This year I’m honored to chair the Information Technology & Politics (ITP) program at the 2022 American Political Science Association‘s conference. Here’s an overview of all ITP events at the conference — hover over the image below to download a PDF copy and access direct hyperlinks to complete panel descriptions and paper titles in the online program. See you in Montréal!
My latest article titled Beyond accessibility: Exploring digital inclusivity in U.S. progressive digital politics was published recently in the journal New Media & Society. This work, which is part of a journal special issue on Vulnerability and Digital Media, draws on the experience of digital organizers with disabilities in the 2020 U.S. election campaigns to sketch a new framework to understand and study inclusivity in online politics as a “process.” This breaks with the restrictive interpretation of inclusion as an “outcome” of digital political participation and is intended to open new avenues for elevating under-represented voices in political communication research and practice.
The 2020 U.S. election was a watershed moment for inclusivity in digital politics due to activist pressure, cultural change, and the pandemic. The article highlights key role of disabled advocates and digital organizers – both from inside campaign organizations and from outside through initiatives like #cripthevote – in making candidates and their organizations more responsive. With digital campaigning center stage during the pandemic, crisis again proved to be an innovation catalyst in digital politics. Now, the sustainability of digital inclusivity depends on whether cultural change that views disabled people as full citizens and a key group to mobilize takes root in political organizations for the long term.
Here below is a copy of the abstract, you can find the full paper here (please get in touch directly if you’d like a pre-print version):
This article explores inclusivity in the context of digital politics. As online campaigns and digital participation become increasingly central to democratic politics, it is essential to better understand the implications of this shift for marginalized and politically vulnerable people. Focusing on people with disabilities, this study applies a grounded theory approach to investigate what factors shape inclusivity in digital politics and begins to theorize this under-researched concept. Through interviews with self-advocates and election professionals with disabilities involved in innovative digital mobilization efforts for progressive US political organizations and campaigns, as well as a review of related strategies, this article illuminates digital inclusivity as a “process” connected to, but also distinct from the “outcomes” of social and political inclusion and exclusion. Key incentives and obstacles are identified, and emerging principles of digital inclusivity that are simultaneously community-rooted and sensitive to the context of contemporary US politics are discussed.
For the third consecutive year, I collaborated with my AU colleagues Nanette Levinson and Derrick Cogburn to plan a mini-track on Social Media, Culture, Identity and Inclusion at the 55th Hawai’i International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). This year’s edition of the mini-track includes six papers covering a wide range of topics from online classrooms during the pandemic to Twitter algorithmic bias toward languages in countries as diverse as the U.S., India, and China.
HICSS55 will take place virtually between 3-7 January 2022 and registration is completely free – to register, click here.
Our mini-track will hold a free virtual paper session on Zoom on 4 January at 2:00pm EST (11:00am PT, 9:00am HST, 7:00pm GMT). To register for the mini-track session and receive the access link, click here.
I’m delighted to share the Call for Proposals for the Information Technology and Politics (ITP) Section at the 2022 American Political Science Association’s annual conference. The conference is scheduled for September 2022 in Montréal, Canada, and proposals are due January 18, 2022. I’m honored to chair this year’s ITP program. Here’s a copy of the CFP and a link to submit. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have:
APSA Information Technology and Politics 2022 CFP
Deadline to submit proposals: January 18, 2022, 11:59pm Pacific Time
Submission website: https://connect.apsanet.org/apsa2022/division-calls/
Program Chair: Filippo Trevisan, American University, firstname.lastname@example.org
What will be the pandemic’s legacy on digital politics? The Information Technology & Politics (ITP) section invites paper, panel, and roundtable proposals relating to research on any forms of political activity revolving around, or shaped by, digital media and information technologies, broadly construed. We particularly encourage proposals connecting to the APSA 2022 theme, “Rethink, Restructure, and Reconnect: Towards a Post-Pandemic Political Science.” The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare fundamental issues of (in)equality across different political systems. As we emerge from this crisis, information technologies and their uses will have profound implications for the politics of the future. Here, the stakes are especially high for marginalized and under-represented people. Thus, proposals that examine the role and experiences of groups that are traditionally discriminated against because of their race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, economic status, nationality, and their intersections are particularly important.
The ITP section welcomes proposals that tackle questions centered around, but by no means limited to, these issues:
- What opportunities and/or challenges to “democratize” digital politics have emerged during the pandemic?
- How do specific affordances of digital and social media facilitate or counter the circulation of ideas about race, sexuality, gender, disability, nationality, class, culture, and their intersections?
- What have political organizations such as campaigns, activist networks, and local and national governments learned from pivoting online and how might that affect their work long term?
- What is the role of information technology in spreading or countering misinformation and false information about health and related policy measures, politics, and elections across different political and cultural systems?
- How are calls for more regulation and changes in internet governance reshaping digital politics, both nationally and internationally?
- How are attitudes toward technology and its uses that emerged during the pandemic – including in relation to digital tracking and surveillance practices – going to affect future politics, both in democratic and authoritarian contexts?
- How can we innovate information technology and politics scholarship to make it more inclusive and representative of voices traditionally excluded from research?
The ITP section embraces a wide variety of methods and welcomes proposals informed by quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research designs, as well as innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. Ambitious proposals that blend theoretical significance with empirical and methodological detail are particularly encouraged.
More information about the APSA ITP section here
Follow the ITP Section on Twitter: @apsa_itp
Click here for the APSA 2022 Conference website
I have a new article out in the Journal of Communication with an amazing team of co-authors: “Open Science, Closed Doors? Countering Marginalization through an Agenda for Ethical, Inclusive Research in Communication” (see below for free pre-print).
This piece reflects on current trends that emphasize open science practices and values in communication research, and discusses the need to better understand and counter their implications for research with marginalized populations and by marginalized researchers. The seed for this work was planted at an ICA 2020 roundtable organized by Katy Pearce and Jesse Fox, and expanded collaboratively by a diverse team of authors including: Adrienne Massanari, Julius Matthew Riles, Lukasz Szulc, Yerina Ranjit, Cheryll Soriano, Filippo Trevisan, Jessica Vitak, Payal Arora, Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, Meryl Alper, Andrew Gambino, Carmen Gonzalez, Teresa Lynch, Lillie Williamson, and Amy Gonzales.
Here’s the abstract — a pre-print full text version is also available for download below:
The open science (OS) movement has advocated for increased transparency in certain aspects of research. Communication is taking its first steps toward OS as some journals have adopted OS guidelines codified by another discipline. We find this pursuit troubling as OS prioritizes openness while insufficiently addressing essential ethical principles: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Some recommended open science practices increase the potential for harm for marginalized participants, communities, and researchers. We elaborate how OS can serve a marginalizing force within academia and the research community, as it overlooks the needs of marginalized scholars and excludes some forms of scholarship. We challenge the current instantiation of OS and propose a divergent agenda for the future of Communication research centered on ethical, inclusive research practices.
Citizen media have flourished and taken on new forms on the internet, and people with disabilities have been among the pioneers in this area as they sought to increase their agency in how disability is represented and aimed to create media that are not only accessible, but also relevant to people with a wide range of disabilities. I explored the evolution of “Disability Media” — media created by people with disabilities with a view to presenting distinctive disability viewpoints on key issues and experiences relevant to the disability community — and their relationship with ever changing technologies in an entry in the recently published Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media.
There is an incredible amount of grassroots innovation in today’s disability media, and this new entry seeks to capture and critically discuss the work of these citizen media activists in conjunction with long term trends in media representations and technological evolution. Here’s a short summary of the entry (contact me for a pre-print copy of the full text):
Disability and disability-related issues are often ignored or misrepresented in mainstream news and popular media. Disability scholars have also argued that initiatives launched by major news organizations to provide better representations of disability, such as the BBC’s Ouch! website, have fallen short of expectations to incorporate the perspective of persons with disabilities effectively (Riley 2005). In addition, traditional forms of media are not fully accessible to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, nor to people with different disabilities including, to name a few, blind and vision-impaired people, people with intellectual disabilities, and language processing issues. To address these problems, disability communities and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) have built alternative media outlets with a view to providing accessible news coverage, enhancing the visibility of disability issues, and contrasting ableist and stereotypical representations of disability both within news and popular culture (Ellis and Goggin 2015a; Haller, 2010). While historically most of these efforts were oriented toward the provision of information to the disability community and meeting its various accessibility needs, the proliferation of digital media has enabled exponential growth in the disability media sector. Dozens of new disability news websites, blogs, podcasts, sign language video services on YouTube and other media are created every year, and can reach ever expanding audiences (Ellis and Goggin 2015b). Importantly, many of these outlets seek to have an impact beyond the disability community and influence legacy media and non-disabled audiences more broadly.
This entry provides a brief history of disability media initiatives and reviews their relationship with the changing technologies and organizational structures that support them. In particular, grassroots projects that seek to empower aspiring disabled writers, reporters, and videographers and augment the visibility of their content, such as Rooted in Rights and The Disability Visibility Project, are presented. The entry discusses how these initiatives, which follow in the footsteps of community-based projects that equipped people with disabilities with key journalistic skills (Thorsen, Jackson and Luce 2015) and build on the use of unmediated storytelling in disability rights advocacy (Trevisan, 2017), empower new disabled voices to challenge the status quo, enrich news and popular culture with more diverse disability representations, and can become catalysts for the participation of the disability community in key civic moments such as elections and important policy debates.
I love running focus groups, both from a research and human perspective, but traditionally this method has been far from universally accessible. For example, traditional focus groups present important challenges for people with communication disabilities and disorders, which currently are over 10% of the U.S. adult population.
As someone who cares deeply about the inclusion of traditionally under-represented voices in research, I think there’s a lot that we can do to re-think methodologies to make them more accessible. In an article I published in the journal Qualitative Research earlier this year, I drew on my experience organizing, moderating, and analyzing focus groups to discuss low-cost, relatively straightforward, and flexible solutions to ensure that people with communication disabilities and disorders are equally as empowered as any other participant to contribute their perspectives, opinions, and experiences to these studies. While this article can only begin to scratch the surface of this issue, I hope it will help us start a conversation about how to adapt and innovate qualitative research in all fields to make it simultaneously more inclusive and more valid.
You can find the full article here (get in touch directly for a pre-print version, if you like):
Trevisan, F. (2020) Making focus groups accessible and inclusive for people with communication disabilities: a research note. Qualitative Research, published online before print.
And here’s the abstract for a quick preview:
Participating in focus groups can be challenging for people with communication disabilities. Given that more than 1 in 10 adults has a communication disability, focus groups that overlook their needs exclude a large part of the population. This research note makes a unique contribution toward creating more inclusive focus groups by discussing a variety of strategies employed in a recent study of political participation among Americans with disabilities that included a high proportion of participants with communication disorders. Universal design principles can support the “mainstreaming” of communication disabilities in focus group research, contributing to more inclusive and representative social science scholarship.
91 short and accessible articles from 115 leading media and politics researchers from around the world: I’m very proud to have co-edited the U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Voters, Media, and the Campaign together with a stellar team of colleagues from Bournemouth University (Dan Jackson, Darren Lilleker, and Einar Thorsen) and Kent State University (Danielle Coombs).
Published less than two weeks after the November 3, 2020 election, this volume includes immediate reaction and analysis pieces – including research findings and new theoretical insights – that help readers understand the campaign and its significance for the future of American democracy. U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Voters, Media, and the Campaign is a valuable resource for researchers, educators, journalists, and policy-makers that is freely accessible and organized around seven main topics, including:
- Policy & political context
- Candidates & the campaign
- News & journalism
- Social Media
- Popular culture & public critique
- Democracy in crisis
You can find our introduction with a brief overview of the contents of each section here.
We’re grateful to the Center for Comparative Politics and Media Research at Bournemouth University, the APSA Information Technology and Politics Section, the Political Studies Association’s Media and Politics Group, and the IPSA Political Communication Research Committee for their support.
The double special issue of Communication & Sport I co-edited with Dan Jackson (Bournemouth University), Emma Pullen (Loughborough University), and Mike Silk (Bournemouth University) is out! We’re very proud to include thirteen top-notch articles that discuss the nexus of communication, sport, and social justice as it relates to race, gender, disability and more in this double special issue. In the introductory article, we sketch out an ambitious agenda for this nascent field of inquiry and hope this will help foster innovative intellectual pursuits at the crossroads of scholarship, practice, and activism.
I’m delighted to share my latest open access article ‘Do you want to be a well-informed citizen, or do you want to be sane?’ Social Media, Disability, Mental Health and Political Marginality, which was published earlier this month in Social Media + Society. The article reviews evidence from focus groups with voters with disabilities to explore their experience with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. From this, social media platforms emerge as both empowering tools and sources of mental health problems for this traditionally marginalized group in an increasingly polarized political context such as the U.S.
This article is part of a forthcoming special issue on Social Media and Marginality expertly edited by Katy Pearce, Amy Gonzales, and Brooke Focault-Welles.
Here is a copy of the abstract, for the full open access article click here.
This article examines the experiences of people with disabilities, a traditionally marginalized group in US politics, with social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Using focus groups with participants with a wide range of disabilities, the significance of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook is discussed. Results highlight ambivalent experiences with these platforms, which support some elements of political inclusion (more accessible and more relevant election information) but at the same time also exacerbate aspects of marginality (stress, anxiety, isolation). Four coping strategies devised by participants to address digital stress (self-censorship, unfollowing/unfriending social media contacts, signing off, and taking medication) are illustrated. The relationship between these contrasting findings, social media design and affordances, as well as potential strategies to eliminate an emerging trade-off between discussing politics online and preserving mental health and social connectedness for people with disabilities are discussed.