I have conducted research projects exploring histories of media participation, media memories as well as civic engagement with and through social media. Currently, I am invested in the following projects:

Media, trust and information during the Corona crisis

Many people are very concerned about the current situation and struggle with keeping informed about the fast changing regulations to maintain the pandemic in Sweden. At the same time, public agencies have identified misinformation and disinformation as a major problem during the Corona crisis. Adopting and adapting to major changes in everyday life is closely linked to the ways in which people are informed about necessary changes and to what extent they trust the source of information.

Handling a crisis situation such as the corona pandemic is hence also a major effort in trustworthy communication especially in a media saturated society. In that context it is of utmost importance for public agencies to know which sources people trust and distrust and how media trust evolves in different phases of the crisis. This project will gather empirical material to document the changing trust in the media during the Corona crisis. The project will gather unique material that will allow for diverse studies that will improve our understanding of media trust during a severe crisis situation and, hence, allows us to further develop communication strategies by public agencies. It will also capture the voices of concerned citizens during
this unique situation.

Funded by: Formas

Publications: Research Note preliminary findings; Press release

Blog including research notes and press coverage.

The Digital Welfare State: Automated Decision-Making and Democratic Values

The project investigates the increasing implementation of automated decision-making in the public sector with the help of algorithms. Based on interviews with heads of unit, civil servants, software developers and citizens, the project investigates the algorithmic imaginaries, algorithmic implementations and algorithmic implications of automated decision-making in the Swedish public sector. Bringing empirical and theoretical approaches from the field of algorithm studies to the sociology of the welfare state and public administration research, the project contributes new knowledge on how digitalization potentially changes the relationship between institutions for public administration, civil servants and citizens. Relying on a multi-case study approach that compares automated decision-making in three public sector institutions (social services, the employment services and the social insurance agency), the project will highlight the increasing delegation of tasks to algorithms that constitutes our contemporary algorithmic culture. It will provide important background knowledge to develop guidelines and strategies for the further implementation of automated decision-making while situating this form of digitalisation in a broader context of societal change and the restructuring of the welfare state.

I am currently facilitating a Network on Automated Decision-Making in the Public Sector funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

I am also leading the comparative project Automating Welfare in the Baltic Sea Region funded by the Baltic Sea Foundation.

In 2022, I will spend a sabbatical in Germany at the Leibnitz Institute for Media Research (Hamburg) funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Prison Media: the role of prisons for media infrastructures

Prisons evoke both repulsion and fascination. They, therefore, figure prominently as sites in popular entertainment, for example in movies, series and novels. It is less known that prisoners have contributed considerably to our media in a very material sense as well. They have built the telegraph system; produced envelops and mailbags for the postal system; have been part of the printing industry; and repair shops for radio and television sets were an important part of prisons. Beyond this media work, prisoners are also objects of surveillance technologies that are spread with slight variations to the broader society. Ankle monitors have been remediated as fitbits and other self-tracking devices. CCTV technologies that increasingly integrate artificial intelligence have been developed for prisons and are now increasingly build into smart cities and smart homes. These contributions are here captured in the notion of prison media: media developed in and for the prison. Drawing on archival material on the development of prison media, in-depth interviews with staff of the Swedish Prison and Probation Services and observations at prison technology exhibitions, the project aims to explore prison media from a historical and contemporary perspective and ask for the political implications of media infrastructures and technologies being built, developed, maintained and repaired in the context of incarceration.

Fredrik Stiernstedt and I are currently finalizing the book Prison Media (under contract with MIT Press).