Earlier this month I started a new job as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Public Communication Division at American University’s School of Communication. It’s incredibly exciting to be in Washington, DC and I received the warmest of welcomes from a fantastic group of colleagues with whom I look forward to collaborating over the coming years. Following several weeks of anticipation, teaching starts today and it’s terrific to meet the students too, who are the center of a very vibrant learning and research community here at AU. Keep an eye out for more updates from DC in the coming weeks, but now I need to run to go teach another class!
In a slight departure from my usual research focus, earlier on this year I took a leading role in a qualitative study investigating the effects of the recession and drastic cuts to welfare provision in the UK on the daily lives and health of people living in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas. A key findings report from this project is now available on the website of the GoWell Research and Learning Programme. Click here to download a copy. This work links to some of the issues I explored from the perspective of campaigners in my PhD, including the ability of those most likely to be affected by radical welfare changes to oppose these policy plans and influence decision-makers at the national level. Most notably, this work found that, despite mounting financial difficulties and worsening mental and physical health, people in deprived areas strive to retain control of their budgets and preserve their quality of life. However, a number of constraints emerged that severely limit both individual and collective agency under these circumstances, making it especially difficult for those most badly affected by austerity policies to come together to influence policy-makers. This project is now in its write-up phase so watch out for further publications in the coming months!
My slides for the Glasgow Social Media Analysis, Methods and Ethics event are now available for download here together with all sorts of interesting materials from the other speakers. This was a great event that brought together Glasgow-based researchers from a range of fields interested in all things digital for the first time. If you’re based in the West of Scotland and would like to keep up with Internet research carried out in this area, the organisers have set up a dedicated mailing list, click here to access.
The College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University has put together a free one-day conference on Social Media Analysis, Methods and Ethics. I will be talking about the ethical challenges involved in researching sensitive issues online and the need to ‘de-bunk’ some established methodological conventions in order to enable the development of ethically effective research designs that are fit to archive and analyse social media content. You can find a complete list of speakers and download the abstracts here. The conference will take place on Friday 25th April from 9:15am to 5pm at the Adam Smith Building, Gilmorehill Campus and anyone wishing to attend can register for free here.
I recently started work on a new project as part of the University of Glasgow’s MRC/Scottish Public Health and Sciences Unit. As the name suggests, this is a new place and a new and exciting area for me. I will be carrying out qualitative research on the effects of the recession, welfare reform and rising costs of living as part of the 10-year GoWell research project. This links to my PhD research, which focused on online disability rights networks that campaigned against welfare reforms and public expenditure cuts in the UK and the United States. In the meantime, I also continue to be involved in the VoterEcology project, which has now approached the writing-up phase.
Following the successful defense of my thesis “Connected Citizens or Digital Isolation? Online Disability Activism in Times of Crisis” in June this year, I was awarded my PhD in political communication and public policy from the University of Glasgow in September.
In June 2013, I joined the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Research Foundation (ASRF) as a postdoctoral research assistant. In this role, I will work with Prof. Andrew Hoskins and Prof. Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park) on the ESRC-funded “Voter Ecology Project.” This research will examine the role of internet search in elections in established democracies (UK, U.S.), challenged democracies (Italy), and transitional states (Egypt).