Dr Seeta Peña Gangadharan

Dr Seeta Peña Gangadharan

Associate Professor

Department of Media and Communications

Room No
FAW.7.01I
Office Hours
By appointment on Student Hub
Languages
English
Key Expertise
Communication Technologies

About me

Dr Seeta Peña Gangadharan is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work focuses inclusion, exclusion, and marginalization, as well as questions around democracy, social justice, and technological governance. She currently co-leads two projects: Our Data Bodies, which examines the impact of data collection and data-driven technologies on members of marginalized communities in the United States, and Justice, Equity, and Technology, which explores the impacts of data-driven technologies and infrastructures on European civil society. She is also a visiting scholar in the School of Media Studies at The New School, Affiliated Fellow of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, and Affiliate Fellow of Data & Society Research Institute.

Before joining the Department in 2015, Seeta was Senior Research Fellow at New America’s Open Technology Institute, addressing policies and practices related to digital inclusion, privacy, and “big data.” Before OTI, she was a Postdoctoral Associate in Law and MacArthur Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. She received her PhD from Stanford University and holds an MSc from the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Seeta’s research has been supported by grants from Digital Trust Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

Expertise Details

communication rights; communication technologies; data profiling; data and discrimination; democratic communication; digital inclusion; media justice; privacy; public participation in communication and technology policymaking; social justice; surveillance

Research

Dr Gangadharan's current research projects include:

Past work includes:

Dr Gangadharan's research privileges questions of justice and injustice in the governance of technology. Her interests lie at the intersection of policy, civil society, and technological development. Her approach to research is grounded in democratic theories and critical studies of technology and policy. It is also 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 inclusion and exclusion in democracy, and she considers questions of privacy, surveillance, data profiling, and historically marginalized communities.

Drawing attention to the ‘downsides of digital inclusion’, Dr Gangadharan’s work scrutinizes the adequacy of digital inclusion policy in addressing privacy and surveillance of marginalized communities. This research includes both historical and contemporary examination of the potential exclusionary impacts of being digitally connected. While this research does not deny the value of improving access to broadband infrastructure and citizens’ and consumers’ digital literacy or internet and computer skills and know-how, it draws greater attention to the importance of privacy and data protection for meaningful inclusion in digital society.

Dr Gangadharan also examines the ‘downsides of digital inclusion’ in relation to opportunities and openings that digital exclusion may present. Contrasted to scholarly and policy discourse on the problem of digital exclusion, she explores practices of self-exclusion from data-driven systems as technological refusal. By refusing the terms and conditions of technological systems and the institutions and people behind them, individuals and groups or movements to which they belong exercise individual and collective agency.

Starting from the premise that ‘data are people’, Dr Gangadharan’s work brings marginality to the fore in the governance of statistical and automated computer systems. She has examined such technologies differentially direct, nudge, or target groups, and exacerbate existing inequalities and injustices faced by marginalized communities. Her research emphasizes the importance context sensitization and reflexivity in the development of new technologies and critiques the limitations of ethical frameworks intending to combat bias in algorithmic systems and artificial intelligence.

Dr Gangadharan maintains a longstanding interest in civil society, public participation, and technology 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.

 

Publications

Teaching and supervision

Dr Gangadharan convenes the postgraduate courses Media and Communication Governance and Technology and Justice. She has also contributed lectures to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and concepts (MC408/MC418) and research methodologies (MC4M1/MC4M2).

Dr Gangadharan is the 2020 winner of the LSE Excellence in Education Prize. She is the 2019 runner-up and 2017 winner of  LSE Students' Union student-led teaching excellence award for innovative teaching. More here.

Doctoral supervision

Dr Gangadharan supervises doctoral researchers and welcomes applications from prospective students relating to her areas of research. She currently supervises Vanessa Ciccone.