Safeguarding democracies: An interdisciplinary synthesis of digital media studies and the politics of emotion to understand identity, belonging and trust in the “post-truth” media landscape

This SSHRC-funded 2017 Knowledge Research Grant projects on addressing a rapidly changing global context. PI: Megan Boler.  Research Assistant: Elizabeth Davis.


Pundits and scholars are scrambling to make sense of the overtly emotional rise of right-wing populism in global politics. One clue lies in the shifting relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and media, and democratic values and civic participation. Key to these shifts is the “post-truth” era, where objective facts influence public opinion less strongly than appeals to emotion and belief.

This project will develop a framework and research agenda for understanding the relationship between emotions, ICTs and politics. It will draw on digital media studies and the growing field of “affect studies,” to examine collective emotion, the evolving media landscape, and the interplay between emotion and information warfare.

Through this project, the researchers hope to generate knowledge that will help position Canada as a leader in protecting democratic values and institutions from the threats posed by these developments.

“The pressing question of citizens’ trust in the processes and institutions of democracy urgently requires a deepened understanding of the role of emotions in forming political identities and social movements.”
—Megan Boler

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