The Centre for Digital Citizenship investigates the social and political consequences of current developments in digital media technologies – smartphones, social media, algorithms, data, and beyond – and asks how these technologies shape individuals, citizens, collectives, and publics. While digital technologies offer progress in terms of political mobilization and public conversation, they also hold the potential to enhance old inequalities and divides, countering trust in society. The Centre for Digital Citizenship seeks interdisciplinary explanations to these complex digital developments and their societal effects.
Research Themes and Societal Challenges
The Centre explores the implications of the development, deployment, and diffusion of digital media technologies in all walks of public life, from governmental and private organizations, to the everyday lived reality of citizens. Specifically, the Centre prioritizes research into the following societal challenges:
- Algorithmic Societies & Justice: As societies increasingly turn to data streams to model and understand human behaviour, automated and algorithmic decision-making processes gain increasing power to influence public policy and corporate strategy. Such processes raise pressing questions around issues of equality and ethics, demanding critical research into the politics of algorithms and their orientation in the public interest.
- Mediated Publics & Engagement: Networks and social media have the capacity to bring diverse and distant individuals together for productive ends, but also afford those with harmful motives the ability to associate with relative anonymity. These outcomes of everyday media use require greater understanding into how the affordances and infrastructures of platforms facilitate the formation of new publics and politics, including how individuals anticipate and respond to these developments.
- Organizational Data & Governance: The digitalization and datafication of human behaviour and communication results in massive amounts of data in institutions and organizations, be they large tech companies, governmental bodies or private companies. This aggregation and accumulation of personal and collective data relates to pressing question around privacy, GDPR regulations, surveillance and ownership, demanding enhanced governance to ensure standards, avoid malfeasance, and manage innovation.
- (Dis)information & Trust: Transformations in mediated communication intensify and polarize issues of public concern, leading to a situation where even the most well-documented truths can be denounced as ‘fake’ while blatantly false statements seem to thrive. These new ideological battlegrounds and online shouting matches engender crises of trust in the platforms that mediate public opinion formation and those we encounter on them, ultimately leading to legitimacy crises in traditional democratic institutions.