09/13/2019 – Nicole Ellison

Date: September 13, 2019

Time: 1:15pm

Room: Luddy Hall Auditorium (Rm 1106)


Topic: “Clicks as Relational Work: Social Attention in Social Media Environments”



Abstract: Attention is a valuable commodity in contemporary media environments, and signaling attention to specific social connections via social media is a form of social grooming that can help strengthen relationships and facilitate social capital exchanges. How do the affordances of social media platforms shape social practices (such as clicking and commenting) in networked online contexts? In this talk I will describe a stream of empirical work that investigates the social implications of user practices related to social attention, relationship maintenance, social capital, and enjoyable interactions. Studies include published work on Facebook and Snapchat as well as in-progress preliminary insights from newer work exploring the relationship between attention and activity in Facebook. Throughout my talk, I will relate these findings to the larger challenges associated with social media scholarship, such as rapidly changing platform features and uses practices. I will discuss the concept of affordances as a strategy for anchoring research findings and (hopefully) producing scholarship of enduring value, even after the platforms themselves have changed or even disappeared.


Bio: Nicole B. Ellison is the Karl E. Weick Collegiate Professor of Information in the School of Information at the University of Michigan, where she directs the doctoral program, serves as Chair of the Communication and Technology (CAT) division of ICA, and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. She received her PhD in Communication Theory and Research in 1999 from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.  Nicole’s research has explored social and interpersonal aspects of online technologies and computer-mediated communication, including research on self-presentational strategies used by online dating participants; the role of social media in reshaping college access patterns for low-income and first-generation college students; and the ways in which users employ the communication affordances of Facebook to receive and give social and informational support to members of their network. This research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Academies of Science.