I’m excited to announce that my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” was released in October 2016. Both hard back and e-book versions are available from the Routledge website, as well as on Amazon and other online vendors (where it’s cheaper!).
Book cover: Disability Rights Advocacy Online
This book charts the recent digitalization of disability rights advocacy in the U.K. and the U.S., and discusses the implications of this transformation for disabled citizens and other traditionally under-represented groups. In just a few short years, disability rights groups have gone from using the Internet much less than other advocacy organizations to pioneering new uses of social media to foster a deep sense of agency and unify a very diverse community. To read a full book synopsis, click here.
I look forward to presenting some new work on promotional tactics in disability rights advocacy at the 2016 ICA Preconference “Powers of Promotion.” The preconference, which is sponsored by ICA’s Political Communication, Popular Communication, and Public Relations sections, will be held at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, Japan on June 8th. You can access a copy of the program here and follow the conference on Twitter at #powersofpromotion.
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 will be presenting a paper at the 2014 European Communication Conference (ECREA) in Lisbon in November. My work will discuss ‘Digital Narratives, News Media Coverage and the Limits of Online Dissent’ using the experience of online disability rights activism in the UK as an emblematic case study. A lot has been said in recent years about the innovative tactics, structure and leadership styles of online activist groups. Yet, the relationship between campaigning strategies and concrete policy outcomes remains largely unexplored: why do many digital campaigns ultimately fail to influence public decision-making in democratic countries? My work will address this question by focusing on the clash between competing policy narratives in online activist narratives and established news media outlets.
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.