Research Objectives

The project’s overall aim was to provide a transdisciplinary understanding of the online sharing of personal information, emotion and resources in extreme circumstances (ranging from dangerous and addictive drug use, life-threatening health conditions, to emotional distress and natural disasters). It will explore how, in such circumstances, these acts of sharing impact on the development of empathy and trust on and offline.

The research objectives of the project were as follows:

  • To document how and why individuals in extreme or precarious situations share information and experiences in online environments. These include people who are affected by natural disasters; living with a diagnosis of a life-threatening, life shortening or long-term condition: in need of donated human tissue; are experiencing emotional distress; or, dealing with drug addiction or taking risks with new psychoactive substances (NPS).
  • To examine the role of empathic and trust relations in such online environments: how they develop, are maintained and may be betrayed.
  • To understand the implications of under-sharing and over-sharing of emotional and other resources online for offline relationships and communities, and physical or material resources.
  • To explore the way ethical subjectivities are shaped by the mediated, affective flows of empathy and trust that various online platforms afford people in extreme and precarious situations.
  • To develop, via a transdisciplinary approach, a better understanding of the multiple dimensions of online sharing in circumstances of extremis (in a range of contexts) and how these intersect with various aspects life in contemporary society