Social Roles, Societal Change, and Social Media: Online Communities as a Site for Coping and Empowerment

Golisano College presents Tawfiq Ammari, faculty candidate in HCI/Accessibility.

Abstract:  People navigate social role changes throughout their lives. Many changes, such as parenthood, pregnancy loss, and becoming a parent of a child with special needs, are associated with stress, stigmatization, and disempowerment. Social interactions, especially communicating with allies and those facing similar conditions, contribute to alleviating disempowerment. Social media sites allow people to traverse others’ profiles and connect with those facing similar challenges. To research how people use social media to cope with social change, I use computational techniques like topic modeling and word embeddings to analyze social media interactions at scale. I complement these findings with qualitative and quantitative methods to capture more nuanced socially constructed concepts about why people are engaging in their online behaviors. There are three main contributions from my research: (1) coping with role change using social media, especially when social norms around the specific role (e.g., fatherhood) are changing; (2) anonymous social media sites providing a space for debating potentially stigmatizing issues; and (3) social media providing a medium to advocate for social and policy change.


Bio:  Tawfiq Ammari is a PhD candidate in the School of Information at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Jordan and, as a Fulbright scholar, a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan School of Information. Ammari’s research is at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Social Computing, and Science Technology & Society. His research bridges qualitative methods with machine learning techniques. Ammari has received a best paper award and a best paper honorable mention award at ACM CHI. He also interned at Microsoft Research and Mozilla, and his work has been supported by a grant from Mozilla.

Rhonda Baker


Event Snapshot
When and Where
Monday, February 4, 2019
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Golisano Hall

Open to the Public

Interpreter Requested


access technology
interdisciplinary studies