Another facet of my research focuses on social media and the role it plays in identity construction, impression management, and the social construction of reality.
Constructing Digital Cultures: Tweets, trends, race, and gender came out early 2018. Constructing Digital Cultures examines how user-generated narratives on Twitter renegotiate dominant ideas about gender and race. Using an in-depth, qualitative examination of individual tweets, the different kinds of dialogue that characterize the platform, and various ways in which people connect, Constructing Digital Cultures provides insight into the nature of digital culture produced on Twitter and the platform’s potential as a virtual public sphere. This volume investigates arenas of discussion often seen on Twitter—from entertainment and popular culture to politics, social justice issues, and advertising—and looks into how members of ethnic minority groups use and relate to the platform.
The idea for the book came out of the unprecedented takeover of Twitter by shows featuring African American female leads, such as Empire and Scandal. This prompted an investigation into how fans of these shows utilize Twitter for collaborative meaning-making, and how this contributes to cultural understandings of race and gender.The findings from this investigation were presented at the 2016 PCA/ACA conference.
At the 2018 ICA conference in Prague, Czech Republic, I organized a panel entitled “Can you hear me now? Marginalized voices on social media”. The panel featured Brooke Foucault Welles, Sarah Jackson (Northeastern University), Summer Harlow (University of Houston), and Gwen Bouvier (Maynooth University, Ireland), and addressed current issues facing research into marginalized groups on social media.
A recent research project extends this work by investigating the nature of user agency on various social media platforms and the extent to which this agency is constrained and/or enabled by the technological affordances of each platform. This research question is addressed using he narratives that came out of the #TakeAKnee controversy as a case study. Preliminary findings were presented at the 2018 PCA/ACA conference.
My interest in this specific area began with he explosive growth of the social media platform Facebook, which resulted in a multi-study research project that investigated how young African American adults use Facebook as an impression management tool.
I am very excited to announce that on June 4 and 5 I will be speaking at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Radboud University Nijmegen on my book. Specific details regarding the talk at the RU can be found here.
In May 2018, UMaine Today published a piece on the social and political impact of the #MeToo movement. The article, which can be found here, featured work by Professor Amy Blackstone (Sociology, University of Maine) and myself.
On April 12, I will be a part of a panel on “The media and #MeToo” with Brett Anderson (New Orleans Times -Picayune), Amy Blackstone (Professor of Sociology, UMaine), and Susan Gardner (Director, Rising Tide Center). We will discuss issues and challenges arising from reports of sexual harassment on social media. The panel will start at 1pm in the Bangor Room, University of Maine Memorial Union. More information can be found here.
In January, I was a guest on Maine Public’s Maine Calling. Together with Brooke Foucault Welles from Northeastern University, I discussed my book and the face of politics in the age of Twitter. You can find the interview here.