BCNM at ICA 2018

07 Jun, 2018

BCNM at ICA 2018

We love seeing our incredible alumni continuing to share their scholarship across the globe! At the recent International Communication Association conference, alums Stuart Geiger and Jen Schradie presented on their latest research.

More information on the program can be found here.

The theme for the 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association was Voices. The ICA is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication.

Check out what our alumni discussed below!

Stuart Geiger

Knowing User Populations at Scale: From the Science of the State to Platform Governmentality

How can corporate institutions that own and operate large-scale social media platforms come to know “their users” at scale? In this paper, I discuss ways of knowing user populations at scale, drawing on Foucault’s account of governmentality, particularly the role of statistics in the formation of the modern nation state. These social science methods for representing users at scale are frequently justified as “good governance.” Yet they often fall short, with many controversies and movements organized against platforms’ data-driven decisions. Controversies are therefore also ways in which the institutions behind the platform come to know to user populations at scale -- when they gain such size and/or influence that their concerns are made visible to those in high-level positions within these companies. These two kinds of cases illustrate different ways in which voices must be mediated, aggregated, circulated, represented and rationalized to be made actionable in these platforms’ internal structures.

Jen Schradie

Digital Evangelists and Their Fight for Freedom of Information

By focusing on conservative groups who are on one side of a political issue in one U.S. southern state, this study shows how an eco-system of right-wing news outlets and think tanks, as well as grassroots patriot groups, such as Tea Parties, all worked in sync to feed a lively digital activist space. With a combination of ethnography and in-depth interviews, this research took place before the 2016 election, yet this eco-system provides context for Trump’s popularity and win. In addition, it widens the silver bullet analyses of Russian bots or fake news. Instead, this chapter argues that political ideology, when theorized as a Gramscian connection of ideas, practices and institutions, better explains the rise of right-wing news and social media. As a result, this book chapter traces how political ideology can explain high levels of online engagement among right-wing groups, as opposed to their left-wing counterparts.