Loughborough Funded PhDs: Online Civic Culture


Improving the Health of Our Online Civic Culture: A New Centre for Doctoral Training at Loughborough University

Established in 2018 with a £300,000 award from Loughborough University’s Adventure Research Programme, the Online Civic Culture Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) applies cutting-edge concepts and methods from social science and information science to understand the role of social media in shaping our civic culture. Led by Professor Andrew Chadwick, it features a team of ten academic supervisors drawn from the disciplines of communication, information science, social psychology, and sociology. The CDT enables interdisciplinary teams of researchers and PhD students to work together on issues of misinformation, disinformation, and the rise of hate speech and incivility online. It develops evidence-based knowledge to mitigate the democratically-dysfunctional aspects of social media. At the same time, it identifies and promotes the positive civic engagement benefits of social media.

 Across the world, we face fundamental questions about how the routine use of social media is reshaping the civic cultures of democracies. Central to the debate is whether the features of social media that enable citizens to express themselves, exchange opinions, coordinate with others, and rapidly circulate and recirculate messages also encourage the diffusion of false information, incivility, and hatred. We ask:

  • What are the conditions for democratically-dysfunctional outcomes to occur on social media platforms?
  • What are the effects of specific social media platform affordances on the civic character of life online?
  • Are there recent developments that signal more positive citizenship outcomes from the growth of social media?

By answering these questions our PhD students and supervisory team will create research and findings that will impact public debate and policy.

Get all the information at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/crcc/doctoralresearch/civic-culture-cdt/.