On April 25–26, 2019, the SSRC’s Media & Democracy program hosted a workshop on “Race, Gender, and Toxicity Online,” preceded by a roundtable featuring comments from leading scholars in this field. Senior program officer Mike Miller highlights key insights from the event, including how users do not simply leave their identities behind when they go online. The result for marginalized communities and women, whose identities tend to structure their political lives, can be disproportionate levels of hateful speech and vitriol. The roundtable participants—Zizi Papacharissi, Lisa Nakamura, and Catherine Knight Steele—explain how three stakeholders with significant influence over the content and form of online discourse—journalists, developers, and academics—can and should address its increasing toxicity.
From Our Programs
SSRC programs focus on scholarly innovation and border-crossing, deepening understanding of major public issues, and providing opportunities for social researchers. From Our Programs provides a window on current work at the SSRC, including intellectual breakthroughs and challenges; impacts on practice and policy; and the craft of organizing social knowledge production, dissemination, and use.
The International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) Photo Competition is offered every year to IDRF recipients. Prizes are awarded for the best single photo, the best self-portrait, the best photo essay, and the best video following a vote by IDRF fellows and staff.
In this conversation, hosted by the SSRC’s Media & Democracy program, program officer Mike Miller revisits an often overlooked topic—expectations and predictions for the internet in its early days—with Sarah J. Jackson (Northeastern University) and David Karpf (George Washington University). Understanding the pessimistic and optimistic outlooks journalists, entrepreneurs, and others had for the internet, where these predictions fell short, and whose voices were listened to, sheds light on the digital age’s present and future shortcomings.
In designing solutions to youth disconnection—young people who are both out of school and out of work—the issue of transportation may not immediately come to mind. Yet, a new report by the SSRC’s Measure of America program, Making the Connection: Transportation and Youth Disconnection, investigates the role lack of transportation infrastructure and services play in the lives of disconnected youth. Here, Kristen Lewis, the report’s author and Measure of America’s director, and Clare McGranahan summarize the report’s findings. While disconnection continues to decline post-recession, the pace is slow and youths of color are disproportionally affected. The report provides suggestions for how greater access to public transportation can improve youth reconnection.
The SSRC’s Media & Democracy program has launched a series of workshops that put current controversies and debates into historical and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Here, Mike Miller and James Kirwan provide the key takeaways from a recent event on “A Modern History of the Disinformation Age.” Scholars at the workshop engaged the roots of our “epistemic crisis” regarding what counts as facts and as “reality.” Participants focused on actors who benefit from the questioning of truth claims, and how institutions that once served as gatekeepers for such claims have been weakened and unable to adjust to new media ecosystems.