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CARGC Colloquium: Katy Pearce, “Socially Mediated Visibility in Socially and Politically Authoritarian Societies”

April 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

This event will be held virtually. Please click HERE or visit  http://asc.upenn.edu/cargc2021 to register.

About the Talk

Increased visibility is arguably the most significant affordance of social media and a large body of scholarly work has sought to understand how individuals deal with the effects increased visibility in terms of concern for privacy as well as the ability to broadcast to wide audiences.  Much of this work explores how pre-social media norms are applied, for better or worse, to socially mediated spaces. The presented projects also seek to understand how pre-existing norms are enacted in social media, especially with regard to visibility, but in a different context. This project is set in a society – Azerbaijan – in which a norm of interpersonal as well as governmental surveillance has not only existed for a long time, but “permeates life” and is a part of “the dominant organizing value in society.“ Moreover, surveillance is part of enforcing societal behavioral codes, for which non-compliance results in severe punishment. The increased visibility afforded by social media has amplified and economized both interpersonal and government surveillance, making the risk associated with behavioral code non-compliance and likelihood of punishment much greater. Given the norm of surveillance and these higher stakes, Azerbaijanis make choices about online behavior that are of theoretical importance to our broader understanding of online behavior. Dr. Pearce will present 2 studies on visibility in an authoritarian environment: 1) Through an Impression Management framework, how honor is performed online and 2) How social media complicates the concealment/disclosure of stigmatized political identities.

About the Speaker

Dr. Katy E. Pearce is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and holds an affiliation with the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. Her research focuses on social and political uses of technologies and digital content in the transitioning democracies and semi-authoritarian states of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, but primarily Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East Center and the Department of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

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April 15
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT