My research interests lie in the areas of political behaviour, civic engagement, and new media –specifically internet politics. My research has, so far, had a special focus on political activism, new forms of political participation and social capital. These interests provide the overarching theme of my recently completed postdoctoral project ‘Bowling Online: Political and Cultural Consequences of Developing Social Capital through Social Networking Sites’ which sought to test whether social networking sites can affect social capital production and value change, and lead to greater participation and feelings of political efficacy.
The origins of this project lie in my PhD thesis (completed in 2010/awarded in 2011), a comparative study on the impact of postmaterialist values on young people’s offline and online political participation. The empirical analysis and findings of my studies in Greece and the UK can be found in New Media & Society and Representation respectively. In the past, I have also explored the use of new media in political participation during the 2010 Anti-cuts demonstrations in the UK. Research on this topic culminated in an article about the use of new media for mobilisation by young people in the UK, a qualitative study on the use of blogs and websites for mobilisation, and a study exploring online connecting patterns among protesters and the consequences for the organisation of collective action (see publications section).
I have also been involved in a project conducted by my wonderful collaborator, Ellen Quintelier of KU Leuven, Belgium, on the effect of personality traits on political participation, and another on the longitudinal study of how Facebook use affects young Belgian adolescents’ civic and political participation. Some output from these projects can be found in Social Science Computer Review and New Media & Society.
While in Mannheim, I had the fortune to work with Professor Jan W. van Deth whith whom I have explored issues of social capital and institutional trust in Greece and have, along with Felix Hoerisch, initiated a new project entitled ‘Social Capital Oscillations in times of Crises”. Professor van Deth and I, along with my good friend and renowned text analysis expert Will Lowe, are also co-directors of Social Media Networks and the Relationships Between Citizens and Politics, an ambitious project exploring the role of social media for political communication and mobilisation. Finally, I am also a member of a UCL-based group (along with Jennifer and David Hudson and Niheer Dasandi) which explores the role of social media as a tool for political communication in humanitarian campaigns.
My current work focuses mainly on the analysis of Facebook’s effects of political behaviour using longitudinal and experimental methods. I am also involved in a number of different projects investigating the impact of social media on civil society, the changes in collective action due to shifting of social network-based organisational logics, the (online) behaviour of EU candidates – and the consequences of trolling for political discussion, and wrestling with the challenging task of conceptualising and measuring digitally networked participation. I am very fortunate and happy to be able to frequently discuss, rethink and expand these ideas, with a group of excellent scholars from all over the world, in the context of the New York University‘s Social Media and Participation Lab group SMaPP Global, of which I am an active member.