Gregory Asmolov

PhD research topic

The Governance of Crowds: the Role of Digital Platforms in Emergency Situations.

I examine the role of digital platforms in the constitution of digital users as subjects in crisis situations, in particular natural disasters, and how ICTs change the structure of relationships between individuals and traditional state institutions in such situations. My thesis focuses on natural disaster situations in Russia and Australia, as well as exploring the global crisis-mapping movement.

In addressing my research interests I juxtapose the Foucauldian notion of governmentality and the notion of tool-mediated, object-oriented activity proposed by Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). This framework also seeks to contribute to a novel understanding of crowdsourcing as a digitally mediated mobilization of users’ (subjects’) resources in order to address a particular object (purpose). I develop the notions of “vertical crowdsourcing”, “governance of crowds” and “discourses of activity”.

In addition to natural disasters, my research considers the role of digital platforms in the constitution of the subject’s position in other crisis situations, including international conflicts (e.g. the conflict between Russia and Ukraine) and political protests.  I explore how digital platforms increase the scope of users’ engagement in conflicts, and discuss the association between the processes of conflict socialization and conflict internalization. The role of digital platforms in contexts of conflict is presented through notions of “immersive warfare” and “participatory warfare”.

Supervisor: Robin Mansell

Additional topics

My research interests also include Internet regulation in Russia, the role of ICTs in areas of limited statehood, and the role of digital networks in the emergence of alternative socio-political spaces. I explore the tension between the Internet as an alternative socio-political space and the sovereignization of the online space by state actors.


I have taught undergraduate courses at the Sammy Ofer Communication School of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (Israel) and graduate courses at the Media and Communication Department of the Higher School of Economics (Moscow).  I also served as Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Media and Communications Department at LSE.


I have consulted on information technology, new media and social media projects for the World Bank and Internews Network, and worked as a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University. I also served as a contributing editor of RuNet Echo, a project of Global Voices Online analyzing the Russian Internet.

I was a co-founder of Help Map, a crowdsourcing platform used to coordinate assistance to victims of wildfires in Russia in 2010 which won a Russian National Internet Award for best project in the State and Society category. I also participated in the development of, a crowdsourcing platform for the coordination of mutual aid in crisis situations, and of a number of other such projects.

I have previously worked as a journalist for major Russian newspapers Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta, and served as news editor and analyst for Israeli TV.  I hold an MA in Global Communication from George Washington University (Washington, DC) and a BA in Communication and International Affairs from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Selected publications

Journal articles

Asmolov, G. and Kolozaridi, P. (2017). “The Imaginaries of RuNet:  the Change of the Elites and the Construction of Online Space”,  Russian Politics,  2, pp. 54-79.

Asmolov G., “Vertical Crowdsourcing in Russia: Balancing Governance of Crowds and State–Citizen Partnership in Emergency Situations”, Policy & Internet, 7:3, 2015, pp. 292-318, DOI: 10.1002/poi3.96

Asmolov, G., ‘Crowdsourcing and the folksonomy of emergency response: The construction of a mediated subject’, Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture, 6: 2, pp. 155–178, 2015, DOI: 10.1386/iscc.6.2.155_1

Livingston S. and G. Asmolov, “Networks and the Future of Foreign Affairs Reporting”, Journalism Studies, 11: 5, Routledge, 2010, pp. 745 — 760.

Book chapters

Asmolov G., Virtual Rynda – The Atlas of Help: Mutual Aid as a Form of Social Activism: Crowdsourcing in transition from emergency to everyday life, in “Global Dimensions of Digital Activism.” Edited by Ethan Zuckerman and Lorrie LeJeune, MIT Center For Civic Media, 2014.

Asmolov G. Natural Disasters and Alternative Modes of Governance: the Role of Social Networks and Crowdsourcing Platforms in Russia in “Bits and Atoms Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood”. Edited by Steven Livingston and Gregor Walter-Drop, Oxford University Press 2013.

Asmolov G. The Kremlin's Cameras and Virtual Potemkin Villages: ICT and the Construction of Statehood, in “Bits and Atoms Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood”. Edited by Steven Livingston and Gregor Walter-Drop, Oxford University Press 2013.

Asmolov G., “Dynamics of innovation and the balance of power in Russia” in “State Power 2.0 Authoritarian Entrenchment and Political Engagement Worldwide”, Edited by Muzammil M. Hussain and Philip N. Howard, Ashgate, 2013.

Asmolov A. and G. Asmolov,  “From We-Media to I-Media: Identity Transformations  in the Virtual World” in Y. Zinchenko & V. Petrenko (Eds.), Psychology in Russia. State of the Art, Scientific Yearbook, Volume 2, 2009.

Conference proceedings

Asmolov G. Crowdsourcing as an Activity System: Online Platforms as Mediating Artifacts.

A Conceptual Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Crowdsourcing in Emergencies, in Proceedings of the Sintelnet WG5 Workshop on Crowd Intelligence: Foundations, Methods and Practices, edited by Marta Poblet, Pablo Noriega and Enric Plaza, 2014 pp. 24-43

Policy papers and reports

Asmolov G., Welcoming the Dragon: the role of public opinion in Russian Internet regulation, The Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS), Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania), February 201,

Asmolov G. and J. Machleder,  Social Change and the Russian Network Society: Redefining Development Priorities in New Information Environments , Internews, September 2011,

Latar N., G. Asmolov & A. Gekker, State Cyber Advocacy, A Working Paper  for the Herzliya Conference 2010, IDC Herzliya,

Selected talks

Social Media and Crowdsourcing in the Conflict in Ukraine. Center for Media Data and Society, Central European University (Budapest),

Crowdsourcing and Development of Activity Systems: the Case of Emergency Response, Oxford Internet Institute, February 2014

From the North Pole to WWW: Social and political construction of cyberspace and Internet regulation in Russia. CGCS Lecture, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania,

Selected research blog posts

Controlling the crowd? Government and citizen interaction on emergency-response platforms, The Policy and Internet Blog ,Oxford Internet Institute, December 2015,

Between institutional dungeons and the dragons of public opinion: Russian Internet regulation, LSE Media Policy Project Blog, February 2015

A Shift in International Information Security: The Story of a Diplomatic Oxymoron, Center for Global Communication Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania December 16, 2013,

The balance of crowds: top-down and bottom-up mobilization strategies in Russian election campaign, Polis blog, March 3rd, 2012

Russian Elections: the struggle for power between state and network society, March 1st, 2012,