Communication Networks and Social Change (CNSC) has two main areas of interest that split into four research lines, which are studied from a critical, interdisciplinary and applied perspective:
Technopolitics (T), understood as the variable connections between technology and politics, a timely object of research after the institutional crisis our societies face, focusing on: (T1) Innovation and technopolitical autonomy, which combines basic and applied approaches for analysing and contributing to the construction of technologies and social processes that nurture autonomy. That is, technologies that allow individuals to define the forms, norms and orientation of their own collective life; and (T2) Social movements and networked democracy, which looks into the infrastructures, structures and processes of the protest movements sprouted worldwide in response to the financial, economic and democratic crisis at the beginning of the 21st century. Our work in this area analyses social transformation processes from a situated, experimental and interdisciplinary perspective, opening new narrative, analytical and practical territories.
Societies (S) analyses two different but interrelated dimensions: (S1) Ageing and digital technologies, which examines the processes of ageing within (mobile) digital societies, to assess to what extent are older people part of the (mobile) digital revolution, and to contribute to the design of inclusive technology. Therefore, we combine sociological, ethnographic and human-computer interaction perspectives; (S2) Development and digital divides, which analyses how the ubiquitousness of digital technologies affects developing areas, particularly Latin America, and creates (new) digital divides, combining cultural and socioeconomic perspectives. The increase of aged and ageing populations justifies the need of putting the older people at the centre of research on everyday life technologies detached from caring practices. On the other, while the older are most affected by the digital divides, we also focus on the vast majority of populations with limited or no access to digital communication technologies.
The four research areas intersect in flexible ways, particularly —but not only— in a common axis devoted to innovative methodologies that includes a critical approach to (traditional and big) data analysis and its social implications. In this context, we aim at understanding the limitations and opportunities of digital methods combining traditional and new qualitative and quantitative analyses.
Within this context, we define the following operative objectives for the next three years: RO1 Develop basic and applied research on emerging forms and models of networked democracy, digital infrastructures, and data commons; RO2 Define key concepts and discourses in the area of research of technopolitics and technological autonomy; RO3 Research on the emergence of social identity and social movements; RO4 Strengthen the available empirical evidence on older individuals’ (mobile) digital practices in both developed and developing contexts.; RO5 Understand older individuals’ empowerment regarding (a) digital technologies (non-)adoption and (dis-)appropriation, and (b) their role as digital makers with transformative capacities in their local contexts to help breaking ageist stereotypes; RO6 Aalyse the dimensions of the digital divides and their consequences for the development of individuals’ potentialities, particularly, but not only, in developing countries; RO7 Assess the constraints and opportunities that hyper-datafied environments and digital methodologies bring to our research interests from a critical point of view.