64 episodes

Where political communication theory meets on the ground strategy. Host, Professor Elizabeth Dubois, picks a political communication theory, explains it to a practitioner, and then they have a chat about whether or not it makes sense at all out in the world of politics and communications. She chats with political staffers, journalists, comms experts, lobbyists, activists and other political actors. Elizabeth quizzes them on pol comm theory and they tell her how ridiculous (or super helpful) that theory actually is.

Wonks and War Rooms Elizabeth Dubois

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Where political communication theory meets on the ground strategy. Host, Professor Elizabeth Dubois, picks a political communication theory, explains it to a practitioner, and then they have a chat about whether or not it makes sense at all out in the world of politics and communications. She chats with political staffers, journalists, comms experts, lobbyists, activists and other political actors. Elizabeth quizzes them on pol comm theory and they tell her how ridiculous (or super helpful) that theory actually is.

    Season 6 Episode 10: AI and Democracy with Seher Shafiq

    Season 6 Episode 10: AI and Democracy with Seher Shafiq

    This week Elizabeth talks with Seher Shafiq, a program manager at the Mozilla Foundation and expert in civic engagement, particularly in the context of elections and engaging marginalized people in the vote. They discuss how AI is impacting Canadian elections, civic engagement, and democracy. They look at helpful and not so helpful uses of AI tools in elections and chat about ways these tools could be used to increase voter engagement. Seher concludes the episode with suggestions for how we can deal with the lack of trust in AI, including an emphasis on digital literacy. 
    Side note: We are collecting examples of impacts of the podcast and we’d love to hear from you. Could you take two minutes to fill out this short questionnaire for feedback on the podcast.
    Additional Resources:
    Elizabeth mentions the report she wrote with Pol Comm Tech Lab member and PhD student Michelle Bartleman, The Political Uses of AI in Canada, which touches on a lot of the topics discussed in this episode. Check out this article, The impact of generative AI in a global election year, by Valerie Wirtschafter for examples of AI robocalls/media impersonating candidates, as mentioned by Seher.For more information on the threat that deepfakes pose for Canadian elections, consult The Evolution of Disinformation: A Deepfake Future, a report published by CSIS. For an overview of digital literacy theories, listen to our final episode from Season 3 of the podcast: Mapping theories for media and digital literacy. Elizabeth also mentions two past episodes on personal influence: The Two-Step Flow and Opinion Leaders with Nick Switalski and Personal Influence in Politics.Seher mentions that she worked on a report with Mozilla recently, which explores Common Crawl corpus’ “influence as a backbone for Large Language Models: its shortcomings, benefits, and implications for trustworthy AI.”Find more from Seher on her website, X, and LinkedIn. Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 33 min
    Counter-speech as Content Moderation with Kesa White

    Counter-speech as Content Moderation with Kesa White

    In this episode Elizabeth discusses the idea of counter-speech as content moderation with far right extremist researcher, Kesa White. Kesa describes her work on “dog-whistling,” talks about how counter speech can be helpful but doesn’t solve the problem of hate speech online, and explains some of the challenges tech companies face with content moderation. Drawing on her own experience with hate-speech she emphasizes how important it is for us to keep being “in the know” about social media and what is being said.
    We are doing a call-out for people who have had some kind of impact or have been helped by this podcast - we’d love to hear from you! Here is a google form to fill out to help us track the impact of our podcast!
    Additional Resources
    Elizabeth mentions our past content moderation episode of the podcast with guest Andrew Strait. Elizabeth also references some categories of hate speech (Consult: Thou Shalt Not Hate: Countering Online Hate Speech)  Kesa mentions her project with the RSM fellowship, her piece is titled “Not All Superheros Wear Capes: Identity Triggers the Trolls”For more context on the concept of counter-speech and extremism, here is an article by the Dangerous Speech Project based on a Counter-speech field study on Twitter. 

    Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 34 min
    Collective vs Connective Action with Michael Redhead Champagne

    Collective vs Connective Action with Michael Redhead Champagne

    This week Elizabeth talks with Michael Redhead Champagne, a community organizer in Winnipeg working to dismantle harmful systems and build better ones through Indigenous practices and knowledge. They discuss collective and connective action logics, and the importance of creating networks of people to promote and sustain change. Michael talks about building a spider web or network to help advance change, highlighting how essential fostering social connections is for pushing for political change. Elizabeth also asks Michael about the ways he uses social media to get information out and get people in. 
    Side note: We are collecting examples of impacts of the podcast and we’d love to hear from you. Could you take two minutes to fill out this short questionnaire for feedback on the podcast.
    Additional Resources:
    For a quick explanation on the logic of collective action and the tragedy of the commons, check the video Collective Action 101: What Are Large-Scale Collective Action Problems?For a more in-depth explanation of collective action, connective action and the comparison between the two, you can read the article that first discussed connective action by Bennett and Segerberg The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics Michael talks about some amazing projects he has worked on such as Our Care, the review of Manitoba's Child Welfare Legislation, and Meet me at the Bell Tower You can also read Michael's Health Services Should Care for us Auntie-Style [2MB] reportElizabeth and Michael talk about the social movements Black Lives Matter, Idle no More, Women's Memorial MarchYou can learn more about our guest, read his blog, sign up for his newsletter, and buy his children's book We Need Everyone on his website Michael Redhead Champagne  

    Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 39 min
    Parasocial Relationships with T.X. Watson

    Parasocial Relationships with T.X. Watson

    In this episode Elizabeth chats with TikTok creator and researcher T.X. Watson about parasocial relationships and how this term created in the 1950s applies, or not, to digital content creators. T.X. talks about relationships between influencers and their followers and how both research and popular culture still don't have words to properly describe this new form of connection. They discuss important topics that show up throughout this season of Wonks and War Rooms, such as authenticity, ethics, co-creation and measuring influence.
    Side note: We are collecting examples of impacts of the podcast and we’d love to hear from you. Could you take two minutes to fill out this short questionnaire for feedback on the podcast.


    Additional Resources:
    Elizabeth and T.X. mention the 1950s research by Horton and Wohl that defined the concept of parasocial relationships. They explain the term in their article  Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance Elizabeth talks about how some researchers are discussing the use of the term parasocial relationships to talk about influencers and proposing alternatives. One alternative is given by Lou in the article  Social Media Influencers and Followers: Theorization of a Trans-Parasocial Relation and Explication of Its Implications for Influencer Advertising T.X. mentions Nancy Baym's book "Playing to the Crowd", but you can also check her out in conversation with Daniel Cavicchi and Norma Coates in this chapter on Music fandom in the digital ageT.X. mentions the Vlogbrothers John and Hank Green that have been making social media content since 2006Find T.X. Watson on TikTokCheck out past episodes mentioned in this one: News Influencers with Rachel Gilmore, Political Influencers with Nate Lubin, and Technological Affordances with Rachel Aiello Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 34 min
    One-Step Flow with Hamish Marshall

    One-Step Flow with Hamish Marshall

    In this episode Elizabeth delves into the fascinating world of data and personalization with Hamish Marshall, former National Campaign Manager for the Conservative Party of Canada and seasoned expert at the crossroads of data and politics. They explore the evolution from the Two-Step Flow to the One-Step Flow of Communication, examining how data personalization and the changing media landscape have shifted the way information is disseminated in political campaigns. Hamish shares real-world insights into the practicalities and challenges of data-driven campaigning, touching on the nuances of voter targeting, the effectiveness of door-knocking, and the potential of personalized campaign strategies.
    Additional Resources:
    Elizabeth relies on Bennett and Manheim’s article, The One-Step Flow of Communication, to outline the theory. To provide historical context, The Two-Step Flow of Communication by Katz is referenced. For further information on data-driven campaigning, consult Just what is data-driven campaigning? A systematic review by Dommet, Barclay, and Gibson. Hamish discusses the limitations of data targeting in political campaigns, referencing the varied effectiveness of these strategies in different jurisdictions due to privacy laws and data availability. For more information about data laws and availability, consult:Elections Canada’s collection of personal information and data privacy practices,This Reuters article on the use of data in political campaigns in US elections, This piece about the German government's support of banning the use of personal data in political campaigning, and The UK’s guidelines for the use of personal data in political campaigns.  Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 33 min
    Political Influencers with Nate Lubin

    Political Influencers with Nate Lubin

    In this episode, Elizabeth chats with digital communication strategist and experienced political campaigner, Nate Lubin about social media content creators in politics. Nate draws on his experience with the Better Internet Initiative which helps influencers make educational content related to progressive issues as well as his past experience as Director of the Office of Digital Strategy at the White House and Director of Digital Marketing at Obama for America. They talk about what constitutes a political influencer, how content creators engage in politics, and different models of influencer engagement.
    Additional Resources:
    Elizabeth relies on Brooke Erin Duffy’s article, Social Media Influencers to define the term.Check out the Better Internet Initiative, a program that Nate mentions throughout the episode. Elizabeth mentions Political influencers in Canadian election laws, as defined by Elections Canada in their interpretation note on partisan and election advertising on the internet.For more context on what “political speech” means in the American context, here is an article by de Gregorio and Goanta, which touches on how political speech is a constitutionally protected form of speech in the US.Nate mentions his Berkman Klein Centre’s Project, Accountability Infrastructure in Public Health. Throughout the episode Elizabeth and Nate talk about different models of engaging social media influencers in politics. Check out the article Social Media Influencers and the 2020 U.S. Election: Paying ‘Regular People’ for Digital Campaign Communication, for more from an American perspective. Check out www.polcommtech.ca for annotated transcripts of this episode in English and French.

    • 33 min

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