Dr Stefania Vicari
BA, MA, PhD
Department of Sociological Studies
Senior Lecturer in Digital Sociology
Research Lead at Sheffield Cancer Research,
Pathway Director of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership
+44 114 222 6452
Full contact details
Department of Sociological Studies
2 Whitham Road
Stefania joined the Department in September 2016 as a Senior Lecturer in Digital Sociology. Prior to this, she worked as a Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester (2011-2016) and as a Lecturer in Sociology of Cultural and Communicative Processes at the University of Sassari, Italy, (2009-2010).
Stefania’s background sits at the intersection of sociology and media and communication studies, drawing on a highly international HE journey. She was awarded a BA in Communication Sciences (Summa cum laude) from the University of Torino (Italy), an MA in Globalization and Communications (Distinction) from the University of Leicester (UK) and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Reading (UK), having spent her last doctoral year as a visiting scholar at Emory University (USA).
- Research interests
Stefania’s research focuses on participatory cultures, advocacy and methodological innovation, especially in the context of digital research. She studies the role that digital traces (e.g., social media content) and technologies (e.g., digital platforms and their systems) play in advancing or constraining social change. Her research has been funded by the British Academy (2012), the Wellcome Trust (2013; 2016), the ESRC (2018) and the Leverhulme Trust (2022).
Stefania has explored mundane social media practices of ‘talking politics’. Her work in this field has focused on deliberative processes in the contexts of the Global Justice Movement, the World Social Forum, the Cuban blogosphere and in several issue publics on the Italian and the English Twitter. Stefania has recently focused on Covid-19 memes as a form of political communication.
Social media and health advocacy:
Stefania is interested in the role of digital media in self-care, patient advocacy, health public debate, and health activism. Her main interest is in if, how and to what extent digital media may shape bottom-up, patient-centred health practices. Stefania's work in this area is currently looking at social media affordances for individuals with rare and hereditary health conditions.
Digital methods for cultural research:
Stefania uses a range of digital methods techniques informed by network theory and textual analysis (frame analysis, critical discourse analysis). As her recent work has focused on how linguistically or geographically local publics make themselves at home on global social media platforms, Stefania is specifically interested in developing combinations of ‘quanti’ and ‘quali’ methodological steps in digital methods designs.
- The making of digital health citizenship. Polis, 37(1), 133-146.
- Frame semantic grammars: where frame analysis meets linguistics to study collective action frames. Discourse Studies, 25(2), 309-318.
- Hashtag publics, networked framing and the July 2016 'coup' in Turkey. First Monday, 28(3).
- Digital platforms as socio-cultural artifacts: developing digital methods for cultural research. Information, Communication & Society.
- Memetising the pandemic: memes, covid-19 mundanity and political cultures. Information Communication & Society, 24(16), 2422-2441.
- Is it all about storytelling? Living and learning hereditary cancer on Twitter. New Media & Society, 23(8), 2385-2408.
- The pandemic across platform societies: Weibo and Twitter at the outbreak of Covid-19 in China and in the West. Howard Journal of Communications, 32(5), 493-506.
- Organisational hashtags during times of crisis : analysing the broadcasting and gatekeeping dynamics of #PorteOuverte during the November 2015 Paris terror attacks. Social Media + Society(Jan-Mar 2021), 1-13.
- One Platform, a Thousand Worlds: On Twitter Irony in the Early Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy. Social Media + Society, 6(3), 2056305120948254.
- Political hashtag publics and counter-visuality: a case study of #fertilityday in Italy. Information Communication & Society, 23(9), 1235-1254.
- What’s in a text? Answers from frame analysis and rhetoric for measuring meaning systems and argumentative structures. Rhetorica: a journal of the history of rhetoric, 36(4), 393-429.
- Twitter and Non-Elites: Interpreting Power Dynamics in the Life Story of the (#)BRCA Twitter Stream. Social Media + Society, 3(3), 2056305117733224.
- Health activism and the logic of connective action. A case study of rare disease patient organisations. Information, Communication & Society, 19(11), 1653-1671.
- Exploring the Cuban blogosphere: Discourse networks and informal politics. New Media & Society, 17(9), 1492-1512.
- The Interpretative Dimension of Transformative Events: Outrage Management and Collective Action Framing After the 2001 Anti-G8 Summit in Genoa. Social Movement Studies, 14(5), 596-614.
- Blogging politics in Cuba: the framing of political discourse in the Cuban blogosphere. Media, Culture & Society, 36(7), 998-1015.
- Networks of Contention: The Shape of Online Transnationalism in Early Twenty-First Century Social Movement Coalitions. Social Movement Studies, 13(1), 92-109.
- Public reasoning around social contention: A case study of Twitter use in the Italian mobilization for global change. Current Sociology, 61(4), 474-490.
- Quantitative narrative analysis software options compared: PC-ACE and CAQDAS (ATLAS.ti, MAXqda, and NVivo). Quality & Quantity, 47(6), 3219-3247.
- Ways of Measuring Agency. Sociological Methodology, 42(1), 1-42.
- Measuring collective action frames: A linguistic approach to frame analysis. Poetics, 38(5), 504-525.
- Memetising the pandemic: memes, covid-19 mundanity and political cultures, The Playful Politics of Memes (pp. 56-75). Routledge
- Digital methods to explore public opinion on Chinese social media : learning about Lai Chi Ying’s arrest on Weibo, SAGE Research Methods SAGE Publications
- Humans, COVID-19 and Platform Societies In Martin P, de Saille S, Liddiard K & Pearce W (Ed.), Being Human During COVID-19 (pp. 36-41). Bristol: Bristol University Press.
- Digital Media, Participation and Citizenship, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 15-37). Routledge
- Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness on Mainstream Social Media, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 99-132). Routledge
- Introduction, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 1-12). Routledge
- The Rise of the “Epatient” in the Internet That Was, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 61-74). Routledge
- Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness on Digital Health Platforms, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 133-152). Routledge
- Conclusion, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 153-158). Routledge
- From Patient Organisations to Patient Networks, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 75-96). Routledge
- Health Advocacy and Activism, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures of Health and Illness (pp. 38-57). Routledge
- Health, ICTs and the social In Reilly P, Veneti A & Atanasova D (Ed.), Politics, Protest, Emotion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. A book of blogs. (pp. 148-152). Sheffield: Information School, University of Sheffield.
- Networks of Contention: The Shape of Online Transnationalism in Early Twenty-First Century Social Movement Coalitions In Crossley N & Krinsky J (Ed.), Social Networks and Social Movements: Contentious Connections (pp. 92-109). London: Routledge.
- Twitter and Public Reasoning Around Social Contention: The Case of #15ott in Italy In Tejerina B & Perugorria I (Ed.), From Social to Political. New Forms of Mobilization and Democratization (pp. 277-292). Bilbao: Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del Pais Vasco.
- Investigating Facebook walls: A quantitative approach to online community building In Krippendorff K & La Rocca G (Ed.), Qualitative research and young researchers (pp. 146-156). Palermo: Social Books.
- "Book Review: Sharing Our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media by David R. Brake." LSE Review of books. LSE Review of books.
- "Book review: transnationalizing the public sphere by Nancy Fraser et al." LSE Review of books. LSE Review of books.
Conference proceedings papers
- "You can't see it but it's a matter of life and death". Of platforms, power, and the invisible. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. Dublin, Ireland, 2 November 2022 - 2 November 2022.
- COVID-19 across platform societies: exploring the pandemic through Weibo and Twitter. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. Online, 13 October 2021 - 16 October 2021.
- Bringing the pandemic home: memes as local politics at times of global crisis. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. Online, 13 October 2021 - 16 October 2021.
- Research group
Digital Media and Society research area
Science, Technology and Medicine in Society (STeMiS)
Stefania has supervised PhD projects looking at different aspects of digital media use, among which, digital activism, online political participation and knowledge production of social media.
She is particularly interested in supervising projects investigating health, illness and mundane social media content production and sharing practices.
- 2022-2025: Leverhulme Trust, Research project grants scheme. Project Awarded: 'Previvorship in the platform society: Cancer genetic risk in the digital age’ (Principal Investigator). [Grant Ref. RPG-2021-152]
- 2018-2021: ESRC Project Awarded: 'Sustainable Consumption, the Middle Classes and Agri-food Ethics in the Global South’ (co-Investigator. Principal Investigator: Alex Hughes). [Grant Ref. ES/R005303/1]
- 2016-2017: Wellcome Trust, Society and Ethics Small Grants Scheme. Project Awarded: 'Twitting rare diseases on and off the "Jolie effect": A study of Twitter affordances for health public debate’ (Principal Investigator). [Grant Ref. 200223/Z/15/Z]
- 2016-2017: University of Leicester REF-Research Impact Development Fund Scheme. Project Awarded: 'Developing the Rare disease epatient multi-project research as an impact case study'.
- 2013-1014: Wellcome Trust, Society and Ethics Small Grants Scheme. Project Awarded: 'Bridging the gap between patients and carers: The case of rare disease patient-advocacy actors' (Principal Investigator). [Grant Ref: 101785/Z/13/Z].
- 2012-2013: British Academy, Small Research Grants scheme. Project awarded: 'The Cuban blogosphere: A leak of voice from an authoritarian regime to a global public' (Principal Investigator). [Grant Ref: SG112222].
- Teaching activities
Stefania is the Director of the Data Communication and New Technologies (DCT) pathway of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) for the Social Sciences.
From 2016 to 2020, she directed the newly born MA Digital Media and Society, also designing and convening the programme's core modules "Researching Digital Society", "Digital Methods" and "Dissertation is Digital Media and Society".
Stefania is currently convening the programme's core module SCS6081 Digital Methods.
- Professional activities and memberships
- Stefania is a member of the British Sociological Association, the International Communication Association and the Association of Internet Researchers.
- She has been an Editorial board member of Sociology since 2018.
- She has been a member of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel B (Sociology) since September 2022.
- She has acted as a research grant peer reviewer for ESRC, Wellcome Trust, Volkswagen Foundation and MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italy).
- She has acted as a peer reviewer for a range of academic journals, among which American Journal of Sociology, Information, Communication and Society, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, Mobilization, New Media and Society, Social Media + Society, Social Movement Studies, Social Networks, Sociological Inquiry and Sociology.
- She has worked as an external examiner for the MA Communication and Media at the University of Leeds (2017-2021) and the MA Digital Media and Society at the University of Leicester (2021 - 2022).
- Partnerships, engagement and impact
Stefania’s ongoing Leverhulme Trust-funded project Previvorship comprises a live website and three social media accounts (on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) that share information about the progress of the research, build connections with stakeholders (gene mutation carriers, cancer patients, health professionals, policy makers, advocates) and broadcast quality information about hereditary cancer syndromes.
Stefania’s past and current research on rare diseases and cancer has developed in interaction with advocacy and patient organisations, seeing this interaction as a means to understand what matters to patients. For instance, following conversations with patient representatives from Lynch Syndrome UK and Lynch Syndrome Ireland, ‘Previvorship’ has developed an interactive animation meant to provide accessible information about Lynch Syndrome, a hereditary cancer condition.
Stefania’s work has been featured at Off the Shelf Festival of words and on the LSE Impact Blog.