Tracing engagement trajectories – the art and challenges of comparative case studies

Professor Maria Bakardjieva will be visiting ITU this Tuesday May 5th and present her work in the talk:

Tracing engagement trajectories – the art and challenges of comparative case studies

She describes her talk in these words:

In this presentation I will outline the contours of prevailing approaches to studying digital media’s place and role in political engagement with a view to the implications of the choice of lens and method for research outcomes. I will argue that these approaches have produced a kind of “legendary style” of theorizing digital media and political engagement that is understandable as the early stage of studying this relationship, but is now due for retirement. What should come in its place is the question that the rest of the presentation will tackle.
I will propose the aggregation of comparative qualitative case studies as a possible way beyond the hastily whipped up legends of digital engagement and the copious anecdotes of micro case examinations that can hardly contribute to theoretical and conceptual advancement.  Engagement, although still in flux as a concept, definitely points beyond access and connectivity – notions that can be operationalized in positive and directly measurable terms. Engagement suggests the making of new meanings, symbolic interactions and decisions for action at the individual and collective level. Engagement occurs in specific social and cultural contexts that affect and are affected by the switch between passivity and activity, isolation and connection experienced by those who engage. Its study, therefore, necessitates interpretivist strategies of data collection and analysis that interweave the mediated textual and discursive elements with individual reflections and observations of activities.
The problem is that such a research program is overwhelming even with a single case as the object of examination. What are then feasible ways for concatenating different cases systematically and yet responsibly so as to reflect the nuances of the peculiar while at the same time identifying and illuminating patterns and trends?

The talk will take place in 3A07 from 9.30 to 10.30

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