I am a co-investigator for the project ‘Smart Publics’, a research collaboration between the University of Glasgow and the University of Sydney. Drawing on research case-studies in London, Glasgow, Sydney and New York, the project aims to better understand the social, design and governance implications of smart street furniture (e.g. smart benches) and how these fit into existing urban landscapes,reshaping the ways in which different groups interact with public spaces and cities in the process.
My doctoral thesis ‘Mediated Young Adulthood: Social Network Sites in the Neoliberal Era’ explored the meanings that young people ascribed to social media platforms – looking in particular, at profile-checking and monitoring practices. The thesis drew on qualitative semi-structured interviews with 32 young adults and made innovative use of digital methods by using participants’ Facebook activity logs and search history as ‘digital prompts’ to provoke discussion.
Combining Foucault’s work on power and governmentality and Bourdieu’s theory of practice, I argued that young people’s engagement with the platforms, although actively negotiated and presented as individual preferences, were significantly informed by the technological structures and design of the platforms, by the commercial interests and ideology of social media corporations, by social processes of differentiation rendering legitimate specific uses, and by neoliberal discourses encouraging individual responsibility and understandings of the self as enterprise. You can access to the full thesis here.