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.
“Mobilizing Personal Narratives: The Rise of Digital ‘Story Banking’ in U.S. Grassroots Advocacy” is a brand new article by myself, Bryan Bello (American University), Michael Vaughan (Weizenbaum Institute) and Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney) that was recently published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics. In this piece, which is part of a larger project on the recent evolution of digital storytelling in grassroots advocacy in both the U.S. and Australia, we offer the first definition and critical evaluation of digital story banking techniques that are increasingly popular with advocacy groups in the U.S. For a brief summary and little teaser on the full article, check out this post on the AU Center for Media and Social Impact’s blog.
Here is a copy of the abstract; for a full copy of the article click here or, if you need an open access pre-print copy, please get in touch directly:
This article interrogates digital “story banking,” a storytelling practice that has become increasingly popular among U.S. grassroots advocacy organizations. Through the examination of LinkedIn data and in-depth interviews with story banking professionals, this technique emerges as the centerpiece of the growing institutionalization, professionalization, and datafication of storytelling in progressive advocacy. Following the 2016 election, political crisis and an increasing awareness of changing information consumption patterns promoted story banking diffusion. Story banking ushers in the era of stories as data and political story on demand. Yet, political constraints currently limit story banking to a reactive approach based on news monitoring, algorithmic shortlisting of stories, and audience testing. Furthermore, an unresolved tension has emerged between the growing centralization of storytelling functions and the participatory potential of crowd-sourced story banks. The implications of these trends for progressive advocacy organizations and the groups they aim to represent are considered.
This week I’m honored to co-chair the Culture, Diversity and Inclusion mini-track at the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) together with my AU colleagues Derrick Cogburn and Nanette Levinson. The mini-track includes two exciting sessions at 8:00am and 10:00am on Friday January 11th with a total of five papers focusing on issues of disability, race, and age in digital and social media.
As part of this mini-track, I’m also going to present a paper I co-authored with Derrick Cogburn on “Technology and Grassroots Inclusion in Global Governance: A Survey Study of Disability Rights Advocates and Effective Participation.” The paper discusses the first global survey of disability rights advocates about their use of technology to participate in global governance processes including both U.N. and non-U.N. international meetings, conferences, and events, as well as the use of social media to engage with disability grassroots in their respective countries. To access a free copy of the paper, click here.
My book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” received a great review in Disability & Society, the premier scholarly journal in disability studies. In the review, Gabor Petri (University of Kent) wrote that “Disability Rights Advocacy Online is a book by Filippo Trevisan that has been badly missing from disability studies. […] traditional social movement studies usually ignore disability – but one could argue that disability studies equally bypasses social movement and media studies. This book is capable of not only filling a gap between these disciplines but also proposes questions and shows directions for further research. […] Trevisan’s excellent book will inspire researchers to build on the best traditions of disability studies and do more work in this multidisciplinary, fertile area for inquiries.”
To read the full review, click here (free access).
To learn more and purchase the book, click here (use code “FLR40” at checkout for 20% off).
On International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018, the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) launched a new white paper report on “Accessibility in Global Governance: The (In)Visibility of Persons with Disabilities.” Co-authored by the IDPP Executive Director Derrick Cogburn and myself, this white paper is the culmination of a two-year research project that included subject matter expert interviews and a global survey of disability rights advocates from over 50 countries, most of whom in developing parts of the world.
This research, which was supported by The Nippon Foundation, is the first study to comprehensively map barriers to accessibility at United Nations meetings, conferences, and events, as well as other important international forums. In addition, the report also offers examples and recommendations based on recent international conferences that pioneered the use of accessible Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs, including both web-conferencing software and telepresence robots) to facilitate effective remote participation for people with disabilities.
To read and download the full report, click here.
Book cover: Disability Rights Advocacy Online
My book Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity is now available in paperback edition. Click here to order your copy and use discount code FLR40 at check out for 20% off. If you are interested in using the book for one of your classes, you can also order an inspection e-copy – I’d love to hear from you if you plan to include this work in your courses!
The book examines the rapid and unexpected digitalization of disability rights advocacy in the UK and the U.S., discussing the tension between the ability of digital advocacy to enhance the stakes in democratic citizenship for Internet users with disabilities and persisting Web accessibility issues. Given the urgency of crises faced by people with disabilities and other marginalized groups around the world, this book draws valuable lessons for anyone interested in progressive digital advocacy and inclusive social change. To read the full synopsis, click here.
How can we use Google Trends to map information flows in election campaigns? Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow), Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park), Dounia Mahlouly (King’s College, London), and I addressed this question in a recently published book chapter titled: “Mapping the Search Agenda: A Citizen-Centric Approach to Electoral Information Flows.” The chapter is included in the volume (Mis)understanding Political Participation: Digital Practices, New Forms of Participation, and the Renewal of Democracy, which is edited by Jeffrey Wimmer, Cornelia Wallner, Reiner Winter, and Karoline Oelsner, and published by Routledge.
This chapter builds on a previous article and applies a new methodology that uses Google Trends data to map key information demand trends in elections in the U.S., UK, and Italy, comparing Internet search trends to the salience of key figures and issues in the news media in each country. Findings for the Italian case (which explores the 2013 general election) are particularly relevant in light of the upcoming Italian election on March 4, 2018. Italian voters demonstrated a particular inclination to looking for information about anti-establishment leaders online by going directly to websites and social media accounts run by parties and other movements, instead of the websites of established news organizations. In light of this, the chapter reflects on how low levels of trust in traditional news outlets boost the relevance of the Internet as a source of alternative news and augment opportunities for political groups, particularly anti-establishment ones, to control the agenda and steer public debate.
My latest article is just out in the Australian Journal of Political Science. “Connective Action Mechanisms in a Time of Political Turmoil: Virtual Disability Protest at Donald Trump’s Inauguration” examines the forces that underpin the rapid formation of online counter-publics in the wake of disruptive political events such as Donald Trump’s election. Both the advantages and disadvantages of connective action as a response to this type of political upheaval among traditionally marginalized populations are discussed through a case study of virtual disability protest at Donald Trump’s inauguration (the “Disability March“). This article is part of a forthcoming special issue edited by Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney) and Andrea Carson (University of Melbourne) for the Australian Political Science Association’s POP Politics Aus Group. Please contact me if you need a link to a free copy of this article. Here is the abstract:
This paper explores the connective action mechanisms that underpin the rapid formation of online counter-publics in the wake of disruptive political events through a case study of crowd-sourced disability protest launched in response to Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President. Coverage of this protest in U.S. news media is reviewed also as a first step towards assessing the ability of this initiative to influence public discourse. Findings suggest that controversial election results can spur mobilisation, but by themselves do not appear to be sufficient for connective action to really flourish and succeed. Personal action frames that typically are central to connective action struggled to emerge in crowd-sourced contributions that focused on Trump and his politics. The reasons behind these outcomes and their implications for the potential effectiveness of crowd-sourced protest are discussed.
Second Australian talk – I will discuss my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online” during an invited seminar at the University of Newcastle. The event on Monday, July 3rd will start at noon in Room GP2.01 at the Callaghan Campus. Free registration is available here and the seminar will also be streamed live online. Anyone can join remotely by clicking here. The official Twitter hashtag for the event is #DisabilityRightsUON
I look forward to connecting with a wonderful group of scholars that does some great work on multiple aspects of disability and discuss how the book can help us to understand some of the latest developments in disability rights advocacy, including grassroots mobilization in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President.
Special thanks go to my colleague Prof. Bronwyn Hemsley for being the driving force behind this event.
Earlier this month, the journal Information, Communication & Society published the paper “The Google Voter: Search Engines and Elections in the New Media Ecology,” of which I am the lead author. This article, which can be accessed freely on the journal’s website, discusses some of the main research findings from the VoterEcology project, on which I collaborated with Profs. Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow) and Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park), as well as Dr. Dounia Mahlouly (King’s College, London). The paper fills an important gap in our understanding of contemporary information-gathering practices and media environments that surround elections, focusing on the use of search engines by voters in the U.S. and the UK. While search engines remain the primary channel for citizens in these and other democratic countries to engage with election-related information online, there is a dearth of research about the implications of this practice. This paper combines Google Trends data with the analysis of news media coverage to shed light on the opportunities and drawbacks generated by search engine use in elections and reflects on the need to develop innovative methodologies capable of exploring the new media ecologies that are emerging from the interaction of novel and more established forms of media.