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Our research projects deal with the prerequisites, forms and outcomes of digital participation in various social contexts: politics, culture, education, entertainment, economy and health. The CDP team is characterized by proven expertise in communication and media sciences as well as media education.


Our research is based on the application of a wide range of methods from the humanities and social sciences, which are continuously adapted to the dynamic research topic of digital participation and thus further developed.


Current Projects

Audiovisual Media Content Based on Artificial Intelligence

Analysis of the Challenges and Potentials of Deepfakes in Collaboration with Science, Business and Society

Deepfakes are (audio-)visual recordings manipulated with the help of artificial intelligence that make it possible to depict a person in any situation and environment imaginable and to use existing recordings of a person's voice to make them say any sentence. The rapid advance of this technology makes it possible for almost all Internet users to create realistic but fictional video content. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for audiences to distinguish whether an audio or video recording is real or created by a machine. This development poses a challenge for public discourse, journalism, political and economic actors, as audiovisual content traditionally enjoys particularly high credibility.  


The SAB-funded collaborative project follows up on a comprehensive literature review and, in a first step, addresses the audience and its level of knowledge about deepfakes as well as its susceptibility to deception for manipulated (audio-)visual recordings. In a second step, the project aims to investigate possibilities and challenges for journalists in dealing with deepfakes. Finally, the focus on the audience and journalists will be extended by the perspective of other actors from science, economy and society. The aim is to enter into national and international cooperation and to establish an interdisciplinary network for deepfake research at the University of Leipzig. In this context, the project work includes the realization of an interdisciplinary symposium and subject-specific workshops, the publication of an anthology and the conception of information material for affected stakeholders from the media, education, politics and business as well as public relations work on the joint project.


FUTUREHOMESTORIES: Designing Co-Creation

In the futurehomestories project, participants work with researchers to design individual, alternative and innovative scenarios for the home of the future based on their personal life experiences, wishes and needs.


How can people use co-creation methods to tell stories about how they would like to live with technology in their homes in the future?


In order to be able to answer this question, we would like to invite people from the population to co-creation workshops so that they can actively contribute their ideas on how they want to live in the so-called smart home. Their active participation enables us to better understand the home as a place of application for new technologies. A case will be designed for the workshops that will build on existing methods and tools. This case will be sent to participants or used in workshops. The material contained in the case gives the participants the opportunity to express their personal ideas.


The results, for example in the form of stories, are documented in the form of a book of alternative futures (zine) and will be accessible to the public and specialists.


Subsequently, a goal of the futurehomestories project is to make the tried and tested co-creation methods available on a sustainable basis. For this purpose, the methods and tools contained in the case are compared and analyzed by the researchers and later prepared for context-independent use.


Algorithmic Accountability: Designing Governance for Responsible Digital Transformations

The central objective of this project is to offer a business ethics perspective on how social, commercial, and political actors on both a local and global scale can ensure accountability in algorithmic decision-making processes.

While taking account for the distributed nature of algorithms, which can be generated, operated, and applied in different countries simultaneously, this project will research and develop accountability measures which can be adopted and tailored for local settings, such as the unique regulatory environments of Norway and the EU.

This project will combine a variety of methods across academic disciplines, com-paring different contexts or sectors. By doing so, the project aims at tackling issues associated with algorithmic opacity such as lack of recourse on the user side, bias, and discrimination. To this end, the project shall conduct a multi-method and multi-stakeholder investigation to develop a comprehensive framework of the affordances, responsibilities, and outcomes of algorithmic decision-making.


Perspectives and Applications of Digital Participation Procedures in Rural Regional Development

The project analyses the integration of digital methods in processes of rural regional development. Therefore, the effects of digitization and mediatization on communication methods, social organization and institutions in these processes are examined and we study how analog and digital formats and procedures can be combined. The findings lead to recommendations for action and policy to strengthen the effectiveness of rural regional development processes.


In this project I collaborate with the Institute for Rural Development Research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main. The project is funded by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food.


Framing Big Data: The Media Framing of Aggregate Data and New Data-Based Processes in Comparison of Communicative Forms, Time Periods, and Countries

The project investigates how aggregate data and new data-based processes are framed in the media. Using a broad sampling of materials, it reconstructs in comparative perspective the framing of big data. To this end, it connects three levels: First, frames in professional communicative forms are compared with those from participatory formats. Second, the relations of influence between the journalistic and user-generated frames are traced on a temporal scale. Third, the analysis of these processes considers three countries, that is, Germany, the U.S., and South Africa.


With this, the project addresses three gaps in our understanding of cultural sensemaking in the context of extensive datafication. First, it maps the repertoire of frames of big data from journalistic media and mass-self communication. Second, it explores the dynamic unfolding of the discourse around big data across time. Third, it discusses the variance of perspectives on big data in cross-country comparison.


The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).

Participation in the Internet

The DIVSI research program "Participation in the Internet" investigates the prerequisites for as well as the forms and consequences of participation in the Internet. The focus lies on the participation contexts economy, education, culture and health.


In addition to a systematic overview of international research on the topic, online and offline focus groups will shed light on what "participation on the Internet" means in the everyday understanding of users, in which areas it takes place and which activities it encompasses.


Finally, a representative survey of the population will analyze and quantify forms and effects.

Online observation of user behavior on the Internet

The goal of the project is the observation of Internet usage processes to the second and their individualized linkage with survey data collected online. This enables a higher quality analysis of digital participation than pure surveys.


A research tool was developed for this purpose and made available to the scientific community as open source software. In the next development step, the research tool implemented by the provider will be extended to user software solutions.


Ps2Share: Participation, Privacy, and Power in the Sharing Economy

The EU Horizon 2020 research project focuses on three "P's": Participation, Privacy and Power.


The work package "Participation", which is led by the University of Leipzig, deals with the prerequisites and obstacles for the use of sharing platforms.


Consumers as well as providers of goods and services are analyzed. Motives and attitudes are examined, as well as platform characteristics or effects of participation.


Further information can be found here.

Multiplatform Environments and Participatory Production

The project investigates collaborative participatory production practices for the convergence of producer-generated (PGC) and user-generated content (UGC) in German social TV formats. Interdisciplinary discussions about models as well as the different forms and functions of Social TV will be addressed.


In addition, representative examples will be examined using a "four-level analysis model" (institutional strategies, professional practices, content and user participation) in order to make initial assessments of the effects.