Digital Publics

Program objectives

Digital and social media platforms provide new opportunities for public communication, and the formation of distinct publics and communities around shared interests and identities. Such publics may engage in political debate, popular media fandom, science communication, vernacular creativity, and other activities; but they may also be affected by, or actively engage in promoting, mis- and disinformation and other problematic content. Their activities are also shaped by the features and affordances of the platforms they use, from Facebook and Twitter to TikTok and Weibo, and by the broader social, commercial, and political contexts of the societies in which they operate.

The Digital Publics research program within the Digital Media Research Centre uses innovative, mixed-methods research approaches involving advanced data science as well as forensic qualitative methods to:

  • investigate the evolution of digital publics and other communities in Australia and the world;
  • study the communicative practices of digital publics and online communities, and their role in society;
  • develop new frameworks for the qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods study of online public communication;
  • examine the role that digital platforms, including their technical affordances and institutional operators, play in shaping user practices; and
  • work with state, civic, and industry partners to promote safe and constructive engagement in digital spaces.


Program Leader: Prof Axel Bruns


Chief Investigators Involved


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