Dr Gangadharan's current research projects include:
Dr Gangadharan's research interests lie at the intersection of communication policy and social justice. Her approach to research is grounded in democratic theories of media and critical studies of technology and policy. This approach is informed by a history of media activism and policy advocacy aimed at broadening meaningful access to communication technology. Her work addresses both policies and policymaking processes that relate to of inclusion and democracy.
Her most recent work focuses on issues of privacy, surveillance, data profiling, and historically marginalized communities. In 2012, she conducted a multisite study of digital literacy providers, probing privacy and surveillance anxieties of the underserved and highlighting the weakness of social, technical, and policy infrastructures in mitigating those concerns. In 2015, she began collaboration with Brooklyn Public Library, Metropolitan New York Library Council, Data & Society Research Institute, and Research Action Design, to examine the impact of privacy literacy for professionals on the frontlines of digital access and literacy provision. In 2015, with Virginia Eubanks and Joseph Turow, she also began a study of digital privacy to understand the social, political, and economic contexts that produce, aggravate, and address concerns about data flows pertaining to members of vulnerable populations.
This research agenda found inspiration in prior work focused on communication rights, media justice, and digital inclusion. While at OTI, Dr Gangadharan led a large-scale research and evaluation project of a digital inclusion program in the city of Philadelphia, illustrating the importance of social support networks in the achievement of broadband adoption policy goals. During her post-doctoral fellowship at Yale, she broadly examined communication rights and media justice, two frameworks that differ in their view of the state’s responsibility in ensuring communication needs of all individuals in democratic societies. While at Yale, Dr Gangadharan also explored the benefits and harms of being “digitally included.” The work used pre-digital examples of data profiling in housing, health, and criminal justice and digital era, data-driven targeting in subprime finance to urge policymakers to prioritize privacy considerations in broadband access policies.
Dr Gangadharan maintains a longstanding interest in civil society, public participation, and communication policy. Her PhD work, completed at Stanford University, investigated the politics of communication policymaking at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Her dissertation developed a deliberative model of participation in communication policymaking which argues that the legitimacy of policy outcomes results not only from inclusive forums inside a political system, but also from the translational support of civil society groups and media institutions that lie beyond political decision-making. She also penned a short history of the nascent media justice movement in the United States, comparing it to media reform advocacy and exposing their differing theories of social change.