Networked distrust and hate: Anti-vaccine conspiracy communities on Reddit.
I’m interested in investigating the role of media in reshaping public accountability and the ways of communicating in the political sphere that challenge what counts as “literate public”.
To further streamline this grand question, my thesis proposal is two-fold: First, my project explores how online communities of hate speech and conspiracy theories bind together as a response to social crisis or turbulence. Leveraging Actor-Network theoretical and methodological lenses, my project aims to investigate the wider range of sociopolitical groups that such narratives mobilise and engage, with an implication of the embedded sociopolitical tension in anti-vaccine narratives. Second, this project will position the seemingly ‘modern’ phenomenon of trolling in the genealogy of power struggles surrounding knowledge production, and reflect on the role of social media as an intrusion to challenging knowledge production about health and science.
In 2022, Zichen (Jess) completed an MSc degree in Politics and Communication (Distinction) at LSE, where she studied a mixed-method approach to political communication. Her dissertation was entitled ‘Big Brother Watch’s campaign against COVID Pass and its implications for science communication’ (Distinction, supervised by Claire Milne), in which she investigates campaigning strategies that foreground the tension between citizenship and public health measures, and she uses Social Network Analysis to provide empirical evidence of political publics that resonate with such a tension in citizenship. Her interest in, and her inter-disciplinary approach to public opinion, public opinion measurement and the role of media in literate public across different contexts (UK, US, China and USSR) have been sustained throughout her master’s study.
In 2021, Zichen (Jess) completed a BA (Hons) degree in International Communications with Spanish (First Class Honours) from University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Public intellectuals’ legitimacy challenged and reconstructed on China’s social media: A case of Criminal Law professor Luo Xiang’ (High Distinction, supervised by Dr K. Cohen Tan) investigates the controversial intrusion of social media in challenging the long-established rationalised systems of knowledge and specialist expertise. She was awarded multiple scholarships during her bachelor’s study from the university, provincial government and China’s National Council.
From 2019 to 2020, during the full-year exchange at the University of Warwick, Zichen (Jess) studied politics on China’s populism, nationalism and media diplomacy. She also studied sociology, focusing on the UK’s class stratification and educational inequality in the case of STEM curriculum.
She used to be a research programme member at LSE Government Department. Prior to that, she used to be a research assistant at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at University of Nottingham Ningbo China and contributed to many research projects on China’s media diplomacy, bibliometric analysis of political communication scholarship (Please see publication part).
Dr Nick Anstead and Professor Shakuntala Banaji