DR. BIANCA C. REISDORF
I am a scholar in the interdisciplinary field of media, communication, and information sciences with a strong background in the social sciences, and specifically media sociology. Borrowing from a variety of methodological traditions and theories, I investigate the interactions between technology and society. My strongest interest lies in digital inequality research with a focus on vulnerable groups and social justice. Across a number of projects, I investigate why certain people and societal groups are not using digital media, or are using it marginally, and how this affects their personal relationships, participation in society, educational or professional opportunities, and other realms of their everyday lives. My ultimate aim is to improve the status quo by formulating feasible and attainable policy recommendations and community solutions that can help to bridge and overcome digital divides and digital inequalities.
MY LATEST RESEARCH
In my most recent research projects, I focus on specific populations and areas affected by digital divides and digital inequalities. At the Quello Center, I examine digital divides in some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Detroit and what keeps them offline. The project uses a mixed methodology that applies surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. Whereas I am the lead investigator for the quantitative section and therefore responsible for questionnaire design and liaising the with survey unit that collects the data, I am also involved in the qualitative data collection and analysis.
In the Quello "Search" project, funded by Google UK, we investigate how search engines and other online and offline media affect political opinion formation. Using a large quantitative survey design, we collected online questionnaires from over 14,000 respondents across the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain. As the Co-Principal for this project, I was heavily involved in the questionnaire design, data cleaning and analysis, composing a detailed research report, as well as presenting our findings at a variety of venues. The comprehensive report shows that previous research tends to overestimate the extent to which media consumers are stuck in filter bubbles and echo chambers. We are currently analyzing the vast dataset in more detail to address questions such as how digital skills affect media consumption and trust in media platforms as well as how digital skills affect which media are most prominently used to find political information.
I am also currently developing a project on internet access (or the lack thereof) in prisons and how parolees cope with reentering a speed-of-light society that is highly dependent on digital technologies. Following a scoping study that I conducted with Professor Yvonne Jewkes in the United Kingdom, I am developing two studies that investigate how ICTs (could) feature in the prisoner reentry process and therefore affect reentry outcomes positively. Together with colleagues from the School of Social Justice and the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, we are designing a qualitative study that examines if and how parolees currently use ICTs in the reentry process. We received seed funding to conduct focus groups and interviews with parolees, parole officers, and other entities involved in the reentry process in the state of Michigan. In a second project proposal, we design an ICT-intervention that addresses various realms and needs of parolee populations and teaches them the digital skills necessary to negotiate the reentry process. We are in the process of revising an NSF proposal that will be submitted in the next funding cycle in August 2018.