Media, Technology, and Democracy in Historical Context

Social Science Research Council

If you consult recent headlines, the news media is in crisis, and the problems are manifold: disruptive changes to media technology, the spread of misleading news, and anonymous harassment of public figures are causing serious concerns about the quality and trajectory of our democracy and the place of the news media in it. At the same time, these phenomena are not new; disruptions, falsehoods, and harassment have been topics of public concern at various moments throughout the history of media and democracy.

How does the current moment, dominated by concerns over the rise of social media, the prevalence of online harassment, the commercial viability of the print press, and the loss of local journalism, compare to previous moments of crisis? Which developments have echoes in the past, and which concerns are truly novel or unprecedented? 

“Media, Technology, and Democracy in Historical Context” is a research workshop directed at scholars in the social sciences and the humanities that encourages historically-informed research on the impact of recent technological changes on media and democracy.

Topics covered at the workshop will include "Historicizing Mis and Disinformation in the American Press", "Partisan Influence on Media Development", "Shaping the Public Through Cinema", "Race, Gender, and Institutional Bias in American Mass Media", and "Technological Change and American Political Development."

The original call for proposals may be found here.