About Us

Improving the Health of Our Online Civic Culture: A New Centre for Research and Doctoral Training at Loughborough University

Established in 2018 with an award from Loughborough University’s Adventure Research Programme, the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C) applies cutting-edge concepts and methods from social science and information science to understand the role of social media in shaping our civic culture.

Led by Professor Andrew Chadwick, it features academic staff and PhD researchers drawn from the disciplines of communication, information science, social psychology, and sociology.

O3C enables interdisciplinary teams of researchers and PhD researchers to work together on issues of misinformation, disinformation, and the rise of hate speech and intolerance online. It develops evidence-based knowledge to mitigate the democratically-dysfunctional aspects of social media. At the same time, it identifies and promotes the positive civic engagement benefits of social media.

Across the world, we face fundamental questions about how the routine use of social media is reshaping the civic cultures of democracies. Central to the debate is whether the features of social media that enable citizens to express themselves, exchange opinions, coordinate with others, and rapidly circulate and recirculate messages also encourage the diffusion of false information, intolerance, and hatred.

We ask:

  • What are the conditions for democratically-dysfunctional outcomes to occur on social media platforms?
  • What are the effects of specific social media platform affordances on the civic character of life online?
  • Are there recent developments that signal more positive citizenship outcomes from the growth of social media?

By answering these questions we aim to create research and findings that will impact public debate and policy.

O3C Core Academic Staff

O3C Core Doctoral Researchers

  • Rachel Armitage
  • Catherine Baker
  • Harvey Dodds
  • Meghan Conroy
  • Dayei Oh
  • Andrew Ross

International Advisory Board

Twitter

You can follow O3C on Twitter.

O3C Seminar Series Podcast

Subscribe via your favourite podcast service, including iTunes and Soundcloud.

 

Background and Funding

The Online Civic Culture Centre is a Loughborough Doctoral College initiative, part of Loughborough University's Adventure Research Programme, and part of the CALIBRE research framework, the Communication and Culture Beacon, and the Decision Sciences Ambition. Five of its PhD students are funded by Loughborough. One of its PhD students (Ross) is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council's Midlands Graduate School DTP.

Our Research Questions

  • What are the conditions for democratically-dysfunctional outcomes to occur on social media platforms?
  • What are the effects of specific social media platform affordances on the civic character of life online?
  • Are there recent developments that signal more positive citizenship outcomes from the growth of social media?