A quick post to say I’ll be speaking at the UK PSA Media and Politics Group (PSA MPG) Annual Conference on Friday November 9.
Here is a summary of my talk, entitled Social Media and the Future of Democracy:
In the social sciences there are times when it is useful to shift our research focus away from institutions and organisations and toward the analysis of human impulses, emotions, identities, and beliefs. In this talk I will argue that in the analysis of social media and politics, that time is now. My concern is with the broader and longer-term reshaping of online civic culture, which is a fundamental precursor to a healthy democracy. In the context of the new crisis of public communication in which we find ourselves, an important task is explaining (1) the social and psychological forces that shape how individuals form identities and opinions about the political world and (2) the conditions under which the affordances of social media platforms may interact with (1) and come to play important roles in shaping how individuals form identities and opinions. Can we bring these two foci together—social and psychological variables and the affordances of social media—to understand the present crisis? Can this analytical perspective help us understand democracy after the great consolidation of social media platforms is complete?