Digital Media and the Organization of Transnational Advocacy Networks in the European Union

This project is a cooperation between Lance Bennett, University of Washington, Alex Segerberg from the University of Stockholm and myself. We explore the dynamics of transnational advocacy networks in their uses of digital media to diffuse policy frames and engage publics in the EU. We address controversies about how well NGOs represent, mobilize and inform publics in various issue areas; whether networks that interact with publics risk weakening their agendas in efforts to maintain relations with increasingly individualized citizens who seek personalized forms of action rather than conventional social movement collective identification. This project looks at Trade and Environment networks in EU by comparing NGOs that sit in EU civil society platform organizations with the network and public engagement patterns of social movement NGOs operating in the same policy areas.

Women’s National and Transnational Advocacy in the European Union

Together with Henrike Knappe from the University of Lueneborg I investigate patterns of transnational advocacy among women’s movements in the UK, Germany, and on the EU level. European women’s NGOs have been crucial in mobilizing for women’s rights on the supranational and national level. We ask to what degree EU-level and nation-level women’s NGOs in Germany and the UK mobilize constituencies via online means.  We compare the density of networking and the public interaction profiles between transnational-level networks that reach into member states (in our case the network of the European Women’s Lobby), and nationally based NGO networks rooted more in respective nation-level social movement and advocacy cultures. Utilizing network mapping tools as well as original data collected from about 100 women’s NGOs on the EU level, in the UK, and Germany, we look at the density and distribution of relationships in these networks as well as their actual use of interactive communication means as indicators of their capacity to engage publics. We find that information-focused communication is overall more prevalent than interactive mobilization tools and that UK NGOs exhibit more public engagement features than either the EU level or Germany’s women’s NGOs.  We interpret the data as evidence of a more active women’s movement in the UK and as an indicator of lack of EU level outreach into member states communities of women.

Methods of Analyzing Transnational and Digital Advocacy

As a more overarching theme, I am interested in finding new ways to document and analyze transnational advocacy. Since its communication modes are increasingly digital, I have been working with Lance Bennett and others to utilize digital linking patterns in order to observe network structures and substantiate claims about the ‘publicness’ of specific organizations and networks.  We experiment with evaluating deployments of digital communication features across organizations in these networks to assess public engagement capacity. Our current results confirms some concerns about NGOs having limited public followings and cooperation, while pointing to substantial networking where cooperation does occur.

Institutionalization and De-institutionalization of Gender Equality Policies in the European Union

Together with Petra Ahrens from Humboldt University in Berlin, I investigate recent shifts within EU institutions in terms of location and power of gender equality agencies. We are interested in how the move of the gender equality unit into DG Justice as well as the establishment of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) inform the EU gender knowledge regime, strategies, and transversal agency of women’s equality actors.

Gender, Federalism, and Multilevel Governance

This project looks at the impact of federalist and multilevel governance structures on gender equality policies. Sponsored by the Austrian Jubilee Fund, my colleagues Professor Birgit Sauer and Ayse Dursun from the University of Vienna and I investigate to what degree multilevel entry points in the political process are advantageous for women’s equality activists in Austria and Germany. We are also part of a larger international cooperation of feminist federalism researchers called FINSA (Feminist Institutional Network on State Architecture).This project also investigates how the current challenges to cooperative federalism affect women’s policy agency and gender policies in the two countries and beyond.