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!
I just got news that my paper “Search Engines: From Social Science Objects to Academic Inquiry Tools” was accepted for publication in the Internet studies journal First Monday. In this article I argue that, although so far most academic work on search engines has focused on their role in contemporary information gathering practices and their implications for democracy, social science scholars have much to gain in approaching these platforms as useful research tools too. In particular, I discuss the challenges involved in integrating accessory search engine applications such as Google Trends into social science research, including analyzing data obtained through these media in conjunction with the outputs generated by more traditional methods such as content analysis. Watch this space for a link to the article once that is available online (November/December 2014).
I am thrilled to say that I have signed a contract to publish my first book in the “Routledge Studies in Global Information, Politics, and Society” series edited by Ken Rogerson (Duke University) and Laura Roselle (Elon University). The book is entitled “Disability Rights Advocacy and New Media in Britain and America” and builds on my doctoral research. This work, which will be released in 2016, explores whether the Internet can re-configure political participation and policy-making to be more inclusive experiences for users with disabilities, enhancing their stakes in democratic citizenship.
Hot off the press: my latest article on the use of online media among Scottish disability advocacy organizations in Disability Studies Quarterly, Vol. 34 n. 3. Although online organising and campaigning have changed quickly in very recent years, this research, which was carried out between 2009 and 2010, asks fundamental questions about why advocacy group choose to adopt participatory technologies and how they try to manage them. In particular, I discuss the relationship between technological preferences and organisational ethos, structure and mission, which delayed the involvement of several prominent disability advocacy groups in Web 2.0 platforms in Scotland. To read the full text, click here (open access).
The article on ethical challenges in researching sensitive issues online that I wrote together with Paul Reilly (Media & Communications, University of Leicester) is now available for download from Information, Communication, and Society‘s website. Click here to access the abstract, HTML and PDF versions of the article. If you’re interested but don’t have a subscription to Taylor and Francis journals, click here to download a free copy of (for a limited time only).
As good news tend to come in pairs, after finding out a couple of weeks ago about my paper acceptance for Information, Communication and Society, I also heard yesterday that one of my articles was accepted for publication in Disability Studies Quarterly. This is a study of online media and empowerment in Scottish disability organizations and is scheduled for publication in the July 2014 issue of the journal. Watch out for a link to a free copy in the summer!
A paper I recently wrote with Paul Reilly (University of Leicester) about ethical challenges in social media research on sensitive issues has been accepted for publication in Information, Communication and Society. While this should be available soon on the journal’s website, a previous version presented at the 2012 European Communication Conference in Istanbul can be found here.