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Irina Lock (April 2021 - Dec 2021)

Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam.

My research

I am a communication scientist researching the strategic communication of organizations on societal issues. I am interested in studying how the digital communication environment influences corporate communication toward the public and politics and how organizations shape society through their communication. I question which role organizations (should) have in society and take an ethical perspective on their influence. My current research focuses on organizations’ communication around social responsibility and sustainability, public affairs and lobbying, and zooms in on digital issue debates to analyze the role of corporate communication.


How do public issues emerge in online communication environments?

Communication researchers assume that societally relevant issues such as sustainability are discussed in a public sphere following a life cycle: a phase of issue emergence is followed by heightened interest and an attention peak, whereafter the issue vanishes from the public agenda. However, under which circumstances issues become public in the first place is largely unknown. Viewing public issue arenas from a complex system perspective can bring new insights on this matter, as many of the assumptions of complex systems (emergence, self-organization, feedback) describe the properties of this process. Simulation studies can aid in modeling issue emergence based on historic data to explain the underlying rules and patterns.

In the fellowship, I intend to apply complex systems thinking and methods to communication science, with the goal to provide a macro-perspective on digital communication phenomena. I am looking forward to exchanging insights with fellow researchers and prepare a grant application on this subject.