The primary objective of MediaLaB, project founded at the Department of Political Science of the University of Pisa, is to look in depth at topics related to communication, new media and social networks. MediaLaB does this through specific research projects, playing an important role on the coordination of these projects. Furthermore, it activates covenants/agreements with public and private institutions, involving experts in the field, students and trainees. MediaLaB has a multidisciplinary essence and it is open to the participation of different scholars and researchers.
Some of our research partners are:
- Istituto di Informatica e Telematica del CNR of Pisa.
- Osservatorio sulla Comunicazione Politica e Pubblica at the Department of Political Studies of the University of Torino.
- CoLing Lab at the Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics of the University of Pisa.
MediaLaB is also part of the project Policom.online that studies political communication on social media platforms and interactions between politicians, media, parties and citizens on political campaigns, specifically during the 2018 elections of the Italian Parliament.
The extensive quantity of available data and its more-less-public accessibility represents a new challenge for social and political research. Management and elaboration of this data are not the only issues for researchers nowadays, but it is becoming increasingly important the methods and methodologies that allow the interrogation of this so called Big Data for it to be source of knowledge. In order to produce knowledge and that this would have scientific validity, analytical processes and methods of investigation need to be anchored to a solid theoretical framework and be discussed among the scientific community.
Moreover, Big Data increasing complexity needs specific knowledge and capabilities that belong to different, and seemingly distant form each other, research fields. As a matter of fact, complexity and multidisciplinary approaches are the main keywords to access the study of social processes through Big Data that seems to simultaneously evolve with the increasing complicatedness of social organizations and their characteristics.
These considerations represent the epistemological perspective and the common starting ground of the MediaLaB and its researchers.
The scope of MediaLaB is to study the relation between communication, social sciences, new media and social networks through specific research projects. Specifically, MediaLaB aims at deepening the understanding of these issues using particular Big Data methods and methodologies that would allow the analysis of complex political and social phenomena. To succeed in this objective, MediaLaB gathers different scientific approaches and experiences, building a scientific language and common practices that allow the analysis of political and social phenomena from a multidisciplinary and elaborate perspective.
Furthermore, MediaLaB intends to be a meeting point for researchers with various capabilities and experiences carrying out two important functions: incubator of ideas; and coordination between researchers.
Research themes and topics include (but are not limited to):
- Social Media Populism (how populism evolved and spread through social media from a communicative point of view);
- Social Media Habits (how political communication actors – e.g. journalists, politicians, citizens – behave and adopt social media, and how communication practices evolved in a hybrid communicative environment);
- Online Campaigning (how “new” media shape political communication during election campaign and how main actors deal with it);
- Online Social Networking (how different actors interact in online environments, and which are the attention, influence, and participation dynamics);
- Visual Political Communication (how political communication actors use and exploit visual communication in online environment according to different goals);
- Social Media Management for research and non-profit institutes (how to communicate research and its results through social media to several audiences).