Shared Space logoA Shared Space and a Space for Sharing: A Transdisciplinary Exploration of Online Trust and Empathy

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The advent of Web 2.0 and social media have opened up new opportunities for individuals to share information and experiences at a local, national and global level. But what do people choose to share online when they find themselves in difficult and precarious circumstances? And what can we learn from this about how trust and empathy are established and maintained in online relationships more generally? These questions lie at the heart of this innovative research project which is looking at the online relationships and behaviour of people affected by: natural disasters; life-threatening or terminal disease; organ donation; emotional distress and suicidal thoughts; drug use and addiction.

The overall aim of the ‘Space for Sharing’ project is to develop a better understanding of how people in such circumstances share information in online environments and to explore the role of empathy and trust in these settings. The project brings together researchers from a wide range of backgrounds: sociology, international relations, computer sciences, information science and health informatics, philosophy, media studies and bioethics. By working together we hope to produce new 'transdisciplinary' understandings of the issues of sharing, empathy and trust online - in other words, insights that would not be possible using only a single disciplinary lens. As part of the research, we will be accessing online data from a wide range of sources and interacting with a variety of organisations, including UK charities, international NGOs and health providers. As well as making the outputs from the research available to academic audiences, we will make them accessible - and hopefully valuable - to this wider set of stakeholders and to the general public.

Principal Investigator: Peter Bath
Project board:
Dr. Julie Brownlie, University of Edinburgh
Professor Dave Boothroyd, University of Lincoln
Professor Heather Draper, University of Birmingham
Dr. Vanessa Pupavac, University of Nottingham
Dr. Nishanth Sastry, Kings College London