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Cognitive neuroscience and information technologies

Cognitive Neuroscience and Information Technologies Research Program

The Cognitive Neuroscience and Information Technologies Research Program (CNIT) confines its focus of interest to the study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific interest on the neural substrates of mental processes in humans. CNIT mainly focuses on two closely related research lines: the study of human cognitive functions through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and the improvement, stimulation and rehabilitation of these cognitive functions. TMS makes possible the exploration of cortical mapping and the advancement of our knowledge of the functioning of cognitive capacities. This innovative technique allows the stimulation of the brain in a non-invasive and painless way and offers the exploration of different brain regions and the study of neuronal plasticity associated with learning in healthy subjects or those with neurological disorders, either by increasing the excitability of neurons in certain cortical areas involved in a particular function or by temporarily interrupting the function associated with a specific location in the brain. The development of these research lines tries to bring together computational models and behavioral data within a neurobiological framework, offering a standpoint that goes to the heart of cognitive neuroscience and which proposes that the field can and should benefit from the recent advances in cognitive science and developments in information technology.

Gender and ICT Programme

Gender and ICT Research Programme

The main objective of the Gender and ICT Programme is to investigate the relation of ICT and women. More specifically it aims to study:

  • Access and uses of ICT by women in comparison to men (leisure and consumption): why/for/what?
  • Abilities: gender differences in computer and internet digital literacy.
  • The scarcity of women in ICT-related studies and professions, horizontal and vertical segregation.
  • Principal barriers to climb the career ladder for women in research? Are these barriers cultural or institutional? How could they be tackled?
  • Equality policies.
  • Persistence of old-fashioned habits and organizational forms in ICT enterprises (part time, flexible work schedule, teleworking).

Mobile Communication, Economy and Society

The mobile communication networks are spreading throughout the world at a rate unrivalled by any other communication technology in the past. Communication is a basic aspect of human activity in every realm of life. This is why, where the infrastructure is sufficient, this multi-regional communication device is becoming, or has already become, a part of everyday life, whether as an accessory to a landline or as a replacement.

The main objective of the research line is to develop scientific materials which contribute toward expanding knowledge of the phenomenon from a two-pronged perspective: sociological and economic.

We offer two lines of research:

a) The study of the intersection of ageing and mobile communication, both in developed and developing contexts.
This line is linked to the international network A C M (Ageing Communication Media http://a-c-m.ca/)

b) The study of the contribution of mobile communication to social and economic development mainly in poor areas. Geographical scope: mainly, but not exclusively, Latin America.

Urban transformation in knowledge society

The urban political ecology/economy of the Smart City

Against the backdrop of the financial and environmental crises, the Smart City concept is increasingly and acritically mobilized as a win-win solution for cities across the world to improve the economy and the environment through technological solutions. Departing from urban political ecology and urban political economy approaches, we interrogate about the behind the new production of the city under the umbrella of the smart city concept. As indicative list of areas - but open to other proposals -we welcome applications addressing:

a) The Politics of the Smart City: what are the choreographies of power behind the production of the Smart City? Who produces the smart city and who is excluded from the process? How smart city discourses and strategies are produced and circulated; how are benefits distributed? What are the scalar and networked politics of the Smart City? Or in other words, who wins and who loses? How contestation is articulated and challenges the neoliberal production of the smart city?

b) The production of "smart" technonatures: our urban world is increasingly technologically produced, mediated and also enacted. In this sense it is interesting to problematize how new flows (information, water, energy, heat, cold, etc.) are incorporated into the urban metabolism by means of new networks.

c) Alternative technonatures and urbanisms: Alternative technonatures and urbanisms: we explore the conditions of possibility for emancipatory strategies and alternative models of urban environmental production from the grassroots.

Creativity, open innovation and urban economies

This theme is devoted to the geography of innovation. Most firms do not innovate in isolation and increasingly they rely on external knowledge and ideas. The line of research explores the emergence of open innovation processes and inquires about the determinants of the spatial concentration of creativity. In particular, it focuses on the urban geography and the business models of open innovation networks and its connection to innovative milieus.

Metropolis and technology

The aim is to analyse current urban spaces where technology manifest itself; to observe what are the social practices and interactions that characterise the urban with technology and what socials processes develop in these urban frameworks (subjectivities, (in)mobilities, control, regulations, exclusion, etc.). to do so, we use qualitative techniques that allow this urban observation and analysis and, at the same time, use technology to develop these research techniques.

Representations of past, urban space and globalisations

The representations of the past have been a key element to the construction of modern cultures and the creation of collective identities. However, as culture is located in one place, it also happens in regions where interactions between individuals take place. The cities and the urban spaces have a symbolic background of historic nature. The space has a history, but its representations are subjected to change, appropriation and conflict. These phenomenons have been comparatively stable in traditional society. However, in present-day society, they are deeply affected by the rapid change in position and mobility experienced by the individuals due booth migratory flows and fast-growing social and technological changes. As a result, the identification processes branch out and the representation of the past comes into conflict, and when it happens to be a traumatic past behind competition it becomes a cultural conflict.

This work lines poses questions like: How are projects for the reconstruction of the past built in concrete urban spaces? What impact does tracking the past have on present-day representations, discourses and cultural practices in urban communities? What role does the individuals' mobility processes play in the acceptance and transformation of official discourse about local past? How historic and cultural trauma and conflict are experienced within the urban space at social and individual spheres?

Digital Culture Programme

Digital Culture Research Programme

The aim of the Digital Culture Programme is to reflect on the idea of digital culture from a broad perspective, attempting to address as many aspects as possible without losing track of the core topic, namely how do we all fit in the contemporary  digital culture society.  Some of the sub-lines of research are linked to cultural forms of production, co-production and consumption of intelligence, memory, self, identity, desire, body, art, design and technology in the society of knowledge.

The general framework of the research line is focused on the intersection of three elements: the theory and practice of Connected Intelligence, Art and Information Design.  In concrete the research line is developing projects in the fields of Social Media Design for Complex Environments, Bottom-up Knowledge Management Systems, Information Cartographies, Digital Migrants Integration, Digital Literacy, Distributed Art, Augmented and Diminished Realities, Digital Art and some theoretical projects that analyze either the impact of Digital Culture in everyday life, such as the practice of mobile tagging and wearable interfaces, or the impact of electricity on the definition of identity and self, that is reflected in the concept of "point of being" rather than in the concept of "point of view" in digital culture.

Migration and network society

Migration at the 21st Century

Different conditions of being migrant at in information and communication societies. New sociability and migrant networks, bridging social capital, multiple interconnections. 

Migrants' Access to the Information Society

Use and Equipment of ICT in Migrant groups, strategies of access and quality of access at migrant contexts. Access is key to understanding the power relations within this framework.

Communication Networks

Flows and practices of communication and information in migrant contexts and the integration in interconnected realities (migrant experiences of interconnection).

Communication and new media

Emerging Media and Digital Culture: Creation, Participation and Social Uses

This research line proposes to study the transformations provoked by the impact of digital technologies in the processes inherent to contemporary audiovisual communication, in the areas of the creation of contents, their reception and their social uses, as well as the implications of these transformations in the midst of the creative and entertainment industries.

New media and the Public Sphere

How do new media transform public sphere? This line of work proposes to look at the changing relation between media and audiences. Specifically, there are two main subjects of research: the challenges of civic journalism in the information era, and the role of community media at today' communicative scenario. Projects developing any of these subjects will be accepted.

Persuasive Communication in the Knowledge Society

A doctorate student will research the way advertising and public relations are being transformed in order to adapt themselves to a new scenario where each one of us become emitters of our own content and organizations discover that ICT provides them with a new persuasive communication tool, as well as new challenges in maintaining the effectiveness of their messages. Viral marketing, dark websites for crisis communication, cyberactivism, advergaming, branded entertainment and intentional creation of virtual communities are just a few examples of these phenomena. The research will also aim to establish if the theoretical background of persuasive communication is still reasonably valid for the current situation.

GADE

ICTs, collective action and changes in social and political organisations

The Internet is dramatically changing the environment where social and political organizations unfold. In addition, new forms of collective action are rising. Therefore this line of research aims at analysing how collective action for political and social purposes is being organised in the current new ICT environment. We will study new forms of collective action organisation like the 15-M or Occupy that will be compared with traditional organisations like the political parties. Level of analysis will be both individual (practices, attitudes, values) and organisational (networks, participatory structure, decision-making process).

The new media and public opinion

Internet is multiplying the possibilities for accessing information and changing the way people consume political information. For some authors, Internet and Satellite Television are helping to increase to such extent media contents that they are shaping a new media environment which they define as "high-choice". This line of research wants to analyze how changes in the media environment affect public opinion. Public opinion is a broad concept that includes not only attitudes towards political objects (parties, candidates, issues) but also some forms of political behaviour such as electoral behaviour. The goal of this line of research is on the one hand to understand how Internet is changing the media environment and on the other to explain how exposure to the media and in particular to the new media affects basic political attitudes such as trust and partisanship, and electoral behaviour.  

Commons-based peer production and eScience

Sublines:

a) Mass online collaborative projects like those in free software or Wikipedia are among the most outstanding social phenomena around the Internet. Some authors claim they represent a new way of collective production since they take place in a non-market context and do not depend on hierarchical organizational structures or managerial systems. The term commons-based peer production has been recently coined for them. There are a number of research questions that still remain open. While these projects are often depicted as horizontal and self-organized, they make use of very complex and sophisticated procedures for peer-review, accreditation, and participation often implying different roles and privileges for their participants. What is the role of those governance or community-management systems in fostering participation or ensuring quality? What are the different outcomes of different governance systems? What are their common features? To which degree are they built inside the technical architecture of the collaboration platforms? Are they also open to discussion and modification by users?

b) eScience

The Internet has had a deep impact on many aspects of social collaboration and creativity. On one side, users' involvement in the creation of software has eroded the traditional distinction between users and producers: the open-source and free software movements are clear examples of this new situation. On the other side, the emergence of P2P networks has dramatically increased the collective ability of sharing cultural contents and thus creating new works. But how are these new phenomena affecting science, scientific practices and communities? Are patterns of collaboration among scientists changing? Is the publishing system, including the peer-review systems, changing as a result of electronic and open access publications?

c) Civic epistemology

The concept of "civic epistemology" has been proposed to understand how polities generate, validate, use, or change scientific knowledge in making collective policies, and also how these polities differ in their responses to environmental, political, medical, and technological issues. Sheila Jasanoff defines civic epistemology as "the institutionalized practices by which members of a given society test knowledge claims used as a basis for making collective choices." It encompasses facets such as styles and evidentiary standards for articulating knowledge claims; the empowerment of societal actors in determining who has expertise; building institutions to adjudicate between different knowledge claims; and developing hybrid knowledges through environmentalist-industry alliances. Civic epistemology has mainly been studied in countries like USA, UK and Germany. It would be very interesting to explore civic epistemology in Spain - and other countries - in order to facilitate international comparison.

Digital Content Creation, Distribution and Access

Digital content has become an increasingly important factor in economic and social development. Governments have a role to encourage the creation and use of digital content as digital content creators and users. The aim of this research line are policies that stimulate enhanced knowledge creation, dissemination and use of digital contents and regulations that improve access and facilitate a more effective and widespread use of public sector information.

INTERDRET

eCommerce and online arbitration

The growth of the electronic commerce during the last decade has intensified trade between individuals (C2C) and also between individuals and businesses (B2C). Globally assessed this fact has increased the number of controversies in low cost high volume transactions. Arbitration, the most popular adjudicative means of conflict resolution for commercial disputes are being implementede in cyberspace also for consumers conflicts. Some concerns arise when those mechanisms are articulated by means of ex ante clauses embedded and imposed to consumers in standard form contracts. In this new media also the boundaries between consumers and other participants are blurring.

Intellectual and Industrial Property & Digital Technologies

Analysis of the legal issues raised by digital technologies within the intellectual property regime (such as the concept of authorship and originality in digital contexts, the scope of the exploitation rights and their boundaries and limitations, technological protection measures, etc) and the industrial property law (such as the trademark's functions, the boundary between the field of trade mark infringement proceedings and that of unfair competition proceedings, technological protection measures and their limitations, etc). This line covers as well ISP liability issues.

Online dispute resolution (ODR)

Modern society is structured on adjudicative and monopolistic parameters of justice. The increasing number of conflicts, the never ending formal processes and the complexity of certain sectors have been the grounds of current Courts collapse. In such a context, a number of mechanisms have spontaneously emerged, being some of them tremendously effective for inter personal and also commercial controversies. They are being called alternative disputes resolution (assisted negociation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, etc). These mechanisms, when are assisted by technology (ODR), assume also prevention tascs and accountability functions.

ONE

New Economic and Business Challenges in the Knowledge-based Economy

Research into this area aims to better understand the economic transformations, particularly in firm's organizational designs, strategic approaches and management practices, due to the current globalisation processes and the development of the knowledge society. This research is linked to the Observatory of the New Economy (ONE) -accredited as a Consolidate Research Group by the Catalan Government (2009 SGR 513).

More specifically, potential topics to be covered in doctoral research might include but are not limited to:

  • SMEs in the global and knowledge economy.
  • Open innovation communities and processes.
  • Implications of virtual work for human resources and general management.
  • Work-related informal learning.
  • Game Theory and measurement of networks in the knowledge-based economy.
  • Financial dynamics and financial markets integration.

http://in3.uoc.edu/opencms_portalin3/opencms/en/recerca/list/one_observatori_de_la_nova_economia

eCommerce, eMarketing and Consumer Behaviour

Research into this area is connected to the activity being undertaken by the Observatory of the New Economy (ONE) -accredited as a Consolidate Research Group by the Catalan Government (2009 SGR 513). Research gravitates here around the analysis of B2C e-commerce diffusion process among firms, the Internet's effect on firms' value proposition, and the understanding of consumer's perceptions and behaviours online.

Particular issues to be addressed through doctoral research might include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Driving factors shaping B2C e-commerce adoption and diffusion.
  • The competitive game on the Internet and its impact on firms' pricing strategies.
  • The role and influence of online consumer perceptions and states (like flow state, telepresence and imagery) in new media-consumption experiences.

http://in3.uoc.edu/opencms_portalin3/opencms/en/recerca/list/one_observatori_de_la_nova_economia

I2TIC

Netwoks, Efficiency and Welfare in the Knowledge Economy & Society

The symbiotic relationship between Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and the flows of information, communication and knowledge (FICK) has become a key element in explaining the transition process to the knowledge economy and society.

In recent years, the theory and empirical evidence have made great advances in the analysis of: 1) the determinants of ICT usage by individuals, organizations, the economy and the society, and 2) the determinants of economic efficiency and social welfare.

However, the specificity of ICT and the FICK suggest modelling and testing new features, so to explicitly cover the role of network effects. Indeed, the relationship between network effects and ICT use, economic efficiency and social welfare make up the core of this research line.

Firstly, we define the theoretical modelling of the functions of ICT usage, economic efficiency and social welfare, under the analytical framework of network effects. Secondly, we perform an empirical test at the international level, including the construction of composite indices of: 1) the networked enterprise (based on entrepreneurship and innovation process), 2) networked economic growth and aggregate productivity, 3) networked firms productivity and competitiveness, 4) the networked citizen and household (uses ICT on individuals and households), and 5) networked health & social welfare.

Organizational dynamics, Human Resources and Networking in the Knowledge Economy & Society

The organization, results and the distribution of the income generated by work is a main basis for economic activity and social coordination.

Today, workflows evolve into a new model based on intensive use of ICT; the flows of information communication and knowledge (FICK); and organizational structures in network. This model, which has proved successful in creating employment and wages of workers better trained, it also generates employment exclusion in some sections of the population.

Precisely, in this line of research analyzes the determinants of change in workflow. More specifically, how ICT and the FICK; the skills, abilities and competences of the workforce; the production and organizational schemes; managerial decisions; the labor relations systems; cultural and institutional environments; and public policies become on fundamentals of networking and its results.

  • Digital Skill-Biased Technological Change (e-SBTC), work organization and wages.
  • Training, over-education, re-skilling, and human capital.
  • New forms of networking organization, teleworking and human resources management.
  • Labor relations and health in networking.
  • New relationship forms of work & no-work: quality, commitment, satisfaction and work/life balance.

Psicosocial stress factors and ICTs in work places: Job insecurity, workplace harassment and emotional work

The inclusion of new technologies in the world of work has involved a series of important transformations within organisations, such as the organisation of work, labour relations and production. These new technologies are perceived as one of the most serious psychosocial risks workers have to face in the workplace, but they also create a context encouraging the development of other psychosocial stress factors, such as job insecurity, workplace harassment or emotional work.

So, this line of research is approached with the aim of studying these employment stress factors in contexts characterised by the use of ICTs. More specifically, it is approached with the aim of analysing the factors involved in its different processes, with special emphasis on their consequences for both employees and organisations.

In this way, students can take part in one of the following lines of research, and more specifically in one of the current research projects:

  1. Work flexibility, employment, and job insecurity
  2. Psychological harassment at work or mobbing: determining factors and consequences
  3. Emotional work in the service sector

BARCELONA MEDIA

Computational Social Science

Subtopics:

(1) Data driven analysis of human behavior in social media in order to verify/falsify theories from sociology and/or psychology.

E.g. Study of collaboration patterns in Wikipedia
E.g. Emergence of social structure in online communities
E.g. Transition from individual to herding behavior

(2) Comparison of offline and online behavior.

How reliable are data gathered from users interviews? (e.g. are people honest when asked about their online behavior?)

How reliable are data obtained from digital traces (e.g. how many online identities does a single person have? How reliable is the demographic information provided in social networks? When is an online ("facebook") friend a real friend?

Online conversations vs. offline conversations (In what are they different? How does the platform influence the conversation? ...)

(3) Social media with purpose (or just for fun?)

What are social media used for? And how are they used for social (or political) purposes?

When social media are used as a means for bottom-up self-organization of a community, do they follow the already studied and known rules of social and group organization? (e.g. as described by the schools of Elinor Ostrom) Are new patterns and processes emerging?

PSINET

Towards a new cognition

Our cognitive system is a changing object, and digital media highlight this plastic nature even more. Recent years have seen extensive debate as to how technology, particularly the Internet, affects the way our cognitive processes work: how do we save information in our memory and how do we recall it when we use technology? Can we run an Internet search at the same time as answering whatsapps, paying attention to both tasks? Is it true that Google is dumbing us down? Do we all use technology in the same way, irrespective of our personality?

Contact: Modesta Pousada (mpousada@uoc.edu)

Network Promotion of quality life styles

The aim of these programmes is, generally, to have an effect on the quality of life both of patients and their carers by working on some important psychological variables.

The results of the research should contribute to improving quality of life for users and also to guiding administrations in the use of ICTs for health promotion in the broadest sense.

This line of research takes the form of the following sub-lines:

Quality of life in those caring for children with chronic disorders. An intervention via the internet. The intention is that this sub-line focusing on parents caring for children with cerebral palsy should work in depth on discovering the important variables relating to the effects of caring tasks and on designing online interventions that could improve carers' health and quality of life.

Patients' associations and ICTs. APTIC project. APTIC is a social network aimed at members of associations of patients, mothers, fathers and professionals involved with the care of children and young people suffering from chronic diseases. Its modular structure and the possibility of working together with a community of developers from all over the world allow a versatile, dynamic tool providing a response to the changing needs of different users.

Development of an online intervention for people with chronic pain. In this sub-line we are working on designing online intervention programmes aimed at secondary prevention for children and teenagers with chronic pain problems. First, we also want to explore the likely acceptance of a programme of this kind in different contexts (example: people suffering from the problem, health professionals, etc.).

Mental health, teenagers and ICTs. Work is beginning on a research sub-line intended to have an effect on prevention and interventions related to mental health problems in children and teenagers. Design work is starting on an online intervention aimed at teenagers with anxiety problems and at using social networks to prevent mental health problems in teenagers.

Psychology 2.0 and MHEALTH

The use of technology to promote people's health and quality of life has opened up a new field of action: psychology 2.0. ICT offers increasingly more usable solutions, and the emergence of mobile apps (mHealth), and especially health-related apps and web apps, are changing psychology towards a new 2.0 focus. How should we develop an app to improve sticking to a treatment? How can we assess the efficiency of an app aimed at reducing blood glucose levels? How can we invigorate a social network to increase resilience among chronic patients?

Contact: Manuel Armayones (marmayones@uoc.edu)

Health education ad Social Media

Social media platforms and tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo, the use of WhatsApp, and also various types of patients' platforms and schools, comprise ideal arenas for education for health. A number of government agencies and organizations presently have profiles and pages on various social media with an extensive number of followers and active participants.

The study, both of the nature and of the usefulness of this type of educational work, at times aimed at informing and educating based on health conditions, other times at community intervention, and still others at raising awareness of various problems, should enable us to identify best practices and acquire useful knowledge for the design, implementation and assessment of these types of initiative in education for health.

Contact: Manuel Armayones (marmayones@uoc.edu)

Sports, health and quality of life

This line of research seeks to study the practice of sport as a key element in improving the quality of life and health of the population. Far from the competition scenario, a healthy lifestyle based on practising sport helps prevent and treat diseases and provides physical, psychological and social benefits.

Contact: Mercè Boixadós (mboixados@uoc.edu)

Values through sports

This line of research seeks to study how values are conveyed through the practice of sport. It is based on the idea that sport for children and teenagers could be the appropriate place for fostering the positive moral development of young people in every dimension. This calls for the identification of the principles and strategies that will help us create a positive psychological climate during the practice of sport.

Contact: Mercè Boixadós (mboixados@uoc.edu)

ICT in education contexts and basic psychological processes

The use of ICT in the classroom opens up a great many research possibilities and offers countless experiences that could be analysed from their most basic perspective, namely how this use might affect psychological processes such as thought, reasoning, memory, attention span, etc. Does Scratch programming influence the ability to reason? Does working with tablets help maintain children's attention? Do children who commonly work with computers improve their cognitive skills in thought or in language?

Contact: Beni Gómez-Zúñiga (bgomezz@uoc.edu)

Adolescence on the net

This research project is primarily aimed at improving the health of adolescents through ICT and proposes designing a health portal to meet their information, counselling and support needs. A needs analysis was completed through a survey on the use of the Internet and social networks for health issues among students aged 12 to 18 from a number of schools throughout Catalonia and in-depth interviews with groups of young people on this subject. The results are currently being analysed. The aim of this project is to define this use of the Internet and social networks for health issues among adolescents, how they view the need for help and their opinion on the possibility of implementing an Internet health service designed to meet their needs.

Through this project, we will be answering questions such as what adolescents want a health website to be like, how we can teach young people to look for quality health resources on the Internet and if the quality criteria area the same for young people as they are for adults in terms of health resources. We will also be working on the design of online health resources for adolescents and promoting networking among students, teachers and professionals to improve information regarding children and adolescent health.

Contact: Noemí Guillamón (nguillamon@uoc.edu)

Psychopathologies of infants and youths

The aim of this line of research is to take an in-depth look at the mental health of children and adolescents. The key questions and central themes on which the research must focus are: What are the overriding mental health problems among children? Are there any differences according to age and gender? What are the most common risk factors? What is the role of the social and family context regarding the origins and maintenance of these difficulties? The purpose is to analyse, design and apply proposals to promote mental health among children and adolescents and for education regarding children and adolescent health and psychological interventions aimed at this population.

Contact: Noemí Guillamón (nguillamon@uoc.edu)

Ageing and ICT

Seniors use ICT in different areas of their everyday lives: communication, health, to control their environment, leisure and education. Attitudes, expectations, needs and emotions are some of the psychological aspects that may explain how seniors view ICTs and their subjective experience of them. What psychological variables determine how seniors use ICT? Where does their need to use ICT come from? Has ICT changed the lives of seniors? In what way?

Contact: Eulàlia Hernández (ehernandez@uoc.edu)

Development of interventions for chronic pain sufferers

This line focuses on designing online interventions for people with chronic pain. A programme for children with abdominal pain is currently being developed, but the aim of the group is to provide treatments for other populations with chronic pain. How these programmes would be accepted in different contexts is also being studied (e.g. people suffering from the same problem, healthcare professionals, etc.).

Contact: Rubén Nieto (rnietol@uoc.edu)

Health and quality of life at work: risk factors and intervention

Nowadays, people's health, quality of life and wellbeing are determined due to a number of factors, among which the work dimension is probably one of the most decisive. Advances in knowledge of the phenomena of stress and of psychosocial risks are fundamental to improving the increasingly longer working life of people. Consequently, this line of research was designed with the aim of examining these phenomena, as well as the personal, social and organizational factors that may contribute to them, and of fostering people's health and wellbeing in their work environment.

Contact: Beatriz Sora (bsora@uoc.edu)

Applied positive psychology: personal and profesional development

This line of research is focused on studying human abilities and strengths with the aim of promoting the healthy development and psychological wellbeing of people. Consequently, unlike the traditional perspective of psychology, focused on the shortcomings and risks associated with human beings, this new approach centres not only on the processes that prevent disorders, but also on those that enable the development of positive human potential. This research tackles aspects in both the personal and the professional life of the individual, such as resilience (the ability to cope with change and adversity in a way that leads to personal enrichment and improvement), emotional intelligence and job crafting (behavioural changes that the individual generates to adapt their work to their personal objectives and abilities).

Contact: Beatriz Sora (bsora@uoc.edu)

"Social Media" and rare or minority diseases

Rare or minority diseases occur in less than 1 in every 2,000 people. These diseases lie in the so-called long tail of our health systems, with the effects this has at different levels. Personalised care and clinical research is extremely complex because of the lack of a clear return on investment. There is also much less health information about these diseases than there is about very prevalent diseases, although high-quality resources do exist.

The social media have now become a catalyst for autonomy in patients with rare diseases. Nowadays, patients use online communities, such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Linkedin, to work and communicate with one another. Designing and testing systems for personalising the experiences of each patient and/or family member can have positive effects on different variables. In addition, these 2.0 tools can also promote participation by patients and family members in activities aimed at boosting biomedical research, incorporating knowledge derived from collective intelligence, sharism, the patient-driven research model, participatory medicine, personalised social networking and captology, among others.

ENS

Education and Network Society

The interest of the research is aimed at discerning the way in which ICTs and their applications can help with constructing schools capable of responding to the challenges of the network society and discovering the factors making it possible to innovate through ICTs, with special reference to the competences and attitudes of teachers, the role school managers and children and young people play, educational policies concerning innovation, and the processes of interaction between established practices and the sustained uses of ICTs. 

In particular, it analyses: 

  • The relationship between the singularity of school organisation, the way leadership is exercised, the priorities established in the use of ICTs and the benefits derived from them.
  • The way they influence teachers' beliefs about the way they teach.
  • The effect of ICTs on pupils' autonomous working and learning processes.
  • The conditions in which ICTs promote an improvement in school results and the differences between pupils concerning the use made of educational potential.
  • The changes occurring in the role of teachers in teaching processes.
  • The use made of the new opportunities for collaboration and participation in the everyday activities of the classroom and of schools as social organisations.

Language disorders

Linked to the university master's degree in Learning Disabilities and Language Disorders, this line of research focuses on language disorders. These disorders are alterations that more or less persistently hinder language communication and affect language aspects (phonological, syntactical or semantic, both at an understanding and decoding level and an expression or production-coding level). Studies are conducted in this field through eye-tracking methodology, which is used to analyse understanding and production in real time in people with language disorders.

Contact: Llorenç Andreu (mailto:landreub@uoc.edu)

Teaching and learning processes in virtual environments

This line of research is part of the work of the EdOnline group (https://edon.wordpress.com). It centres on the study and analysis of teaching and learning processes in virtual environments in order to acquire more evidence as to how we teach and learn in these contexts and to be able to design strategies to make them more effective and sustainable. Specifically, the group's work focuses on the study and analysis of the processes of educational help, training assessment and dialogue feedback, using a number of devices and means, with a view to promoting learning, self-regulation and involvement and the improvement of the online writing processes of the people or groups who take part.

Contact: Teresa Guasch (tguaschp@uoc.edu), Rosa M. Mayordomo (mmayordomo@uoc.edu) and Anna Espasa (aespasa@uoc.edu).

EdOnline Research Group: https://edon.wordpress.com/

The uses of technology in teaching and learning at school

Conducted as part of the acclaimed SINTE research group (www.sinte.es/websinte/index.php/ca/), this line of research focuses on the analysis of the use of technology to teach and learn in schools from an educational psychology perspective. Some of the areas studied are digital competence/informational competence; learning strategies and the use of technology; educational uses of mobile technology (e.g. tablets); school uses for e-learning environments; and the teaching benefits of technology.

Contact: Antoni Badia (tbadia@uoc.edu).

Smart classrooms - Innovations in spaces for learning and integration of ICT

This line of research analyses and explores what the learning environment should be like in schools to meet today's education needs and contemporary pedagogical principles and models. Despite the fact that in recent years the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) has played a significant role in innovation in education and teaching while the learning space has not changed at all in line with this integration, it is not the only factor worthy of attention. Consequently, besides focusing on ICT, this line of research also centres its efforts on researching into the spatial and layout designs of the elements in the classroom and also on the most suitable methodologies for teaching and learning in future learning environments.

Contact: Guillermo Bautista (gbautista@uoc.edu)

The ecologies of learning in the digital era: the integration of technologies in education

This line of research is part of the Edul@b research group. The research being conducted focuses on the study of emerging and open learning scenarios and on how they affect the professional development of teachers, the quality of online education and the processes of change in educational institutions through leadership and management.

Contact: Montse Guitert mguitert@uoc.edu (PI), Nati Cabrera (ncabrera@uoc.edu), Lourdes Guàrdia (lguardia@uoc.edu), Joseph Hopkins (Jhopkins@uoc.edu), Marc Romero (mromerocar@uoc.edu), Teresa Romeu (tromeu@uoc.edu) and Albert Sangrà (asangra@uoc.edu).

Edul@b Education and IT Research Group: http://edulab.uoc.edu/en/index.php

Knowledge management

Creation, Diffusion and Transfer of Scientific Knowledge

The aim of this research line is to study different processes related to scientific knowledge. The focus is on issues like the mechanisms of knowledge generation and transfer within large international research projects and the communication and diffusion processes of scientific research, including digital repositories, scientific journals and academia meetings, impact factor and Open Access. Also, attention is paid to the study of scientific knowledge transfer to society and its role in innovation processes. This research is done combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Informetrics and media & web metrics and impact

Studies of informational phenomena, library users' information behaviour on both sides of the information coin - information usage and information production/publishing.

Knowledge and Social Networks

Networked social structures play an essential role in knowledge creation and diffusion. We can speak, therefore, of knowledge networks. This research line deals with the way in which networks as social structures and the social capital they sustain intervene in all kinds of processes related to information and communication. Among others, some aspects studied are the influence of the position of social actors within their network on their ability to generate and obtain knowledge in virtual organizations. Moreover, attention is given to the role as facilitators of knowledge creation and transfer of new Web 2.0 tools and platforms—designed to capitalize internet social networks—and to the informational behaviour of the participants in these networks. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies is used.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

This study will investigate the impact of Open Educational Resources (OER) use on teaching and learning. The research will consider the use of OER from both an individual and institutional perspective looking at the benefits OER can offer each and identifying the pedagogic, attitudinal, logistical and strategic factors conducive to uptake and sustained use of OER, as well as the associated issues and challenges.

Personal Information Behaviour

Personal Information Behaviour entails the way individuals manage their personal information including their different personal context at once. A person may have many different roles, such as student, professional, parent and a community member. The process of managing personal information crosses these invisible boundaries. The research proposal uses a qualitative or naturalistic approach for lending to understand human information behaviour in terms broader than the workplace or interactions with a specific technology.

Planning and management of science and innovation

Productivity and efficiency, qualitative and quantitative analysis of scientific and technological research in universities and firms.

Scientometrics and patent bibliometrics

Analysis of scientific and innovation production on specific areas.

Strategic Knowledge Management

Knowledge has become a key factor for value creation in companies and other institutions. The aim of this research line is to study the processes of knowledge creation and transfer in organizations. Examples of research issues are the role of competitive intelligence (i.e. the information management process aimed at the generation of knowledge that is useful for decision-making), the assessment of knowledge-related competitive advantages, or the key mechanisms of knowledge creation and diffusion. From a methodological standpoint, quantitative and qualitative techniques are used, as well as agent-based simulation modelling.

Law

E-commerce taxation

Electronic transactions are subject to direct and indirect taxation. The most important tax issues are qualification of the income received, the determination of the residence of the subjects, applying the concept of permanent establishment, the location of electronic transactions in the VAT, the implementation of the special VAT regime for e-commerce and the taxation of electronic payment.

The tax administration and the Internet

The use of information and communication technologies in the relationship between taxpayers and tax authorities is particularly important in the tax procedures and in the services of information and assistance to taxpayers. The main manifestations of the use of ICT in this area are electronic filing of tax returns, electronic invoices, tax accounting records by electronic means and electronic tax notifications.

Current topics of taxation in the globalized society

The globalized information society is causing changes in trade relations and relations between individuals, to which the modern tax systems and tax institutions should suit.

Labor Law, fundamental right and ICTs

The existence of a contractual relationship between workers and employers generates a complex web of reciprocal rights and obligations. This conditions the exercise of constitutionally recognized rights and, above all, raises a conflict between these and the employer's management and organizational powers. There is no doubt that the employer's powers constitute a real threat to the upholding of workers' rights. And, in this context, technological progress and its gradual application in many spheres of productive organizations has led to an increase in potentially damaging behavior, substantially intensifying legal disputes.

Human Rights, Globalization and Pluralism

The research line on Globalization, Human Rights, Democracy and Legal Pluralism focuses on the changes taking place in the field of the universal promotion and protection of Human Rights as a consequence of the tension between the phenomena of Globalization and the economic, religious, social, cultural or political Pluralism, which still characterizes contemporary society. The final goal is to offer a broad overview of the different scenarios of Human Rights specially affected by those two variables.

Consumers protection in the EU

The European Union is concerned about providing consumers a standardized framework to overcome some obstacles in the market caused by disparities among Member States legislations. By means of Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, purchase of goods and services to consumers, Europe harmonizes some key issues.

In this field, the subjective dimension of consumer law is crucial to understand some threats. Therefore, the main concern should be what consumer means? Who is entitled to be considered consumer? Currently there are many different legal definitions or descriptions of consumer among Member States and in the core of the European Union. There is no a single unic definition of the term `consumer`. Which reflect the complexity and difficulties encountered in a context where the differences between clients, users and consumers are often blurred.

Contract Law. A comparative study and from a European Union perspective

Hereby we propose to analyze the legal difficulties arising in a context of civil law fragmentation, and the transaction costs of uncertainty for the market. We suggest refreshing the social function of contract law as expression of party autonomy. The proposed EU Regulation on common rules for European transaction (2011) is an example of the various efforts made by the European Union to overcome these difficulties. Still, there are several challenges to face that include the harmonization or unification of contract law and the opportunity to overcome our dual civil and commercial legislation in Spain.

The Civil law of Catalonia. Some prospective, challenges and opportunities arising

The process of coding a regulatory body that is bringing together all the institutions of Catalan Civil law, which integrates the various codes and laws passed by the Parliament of Catalonia during the last decade is the result of exercising the power o Catalonia to retain, modify and develop its own right, started 1998. It will end soon with the promulgation of the sixth book dedicated to contract law.

We propose hereby the legal analysis of the changes and innovations that imply on contract law or real state law.

Labor relations and social protection in times of change

The social and economic situation resulting from the economic and financial crisis has prompted several legal changes in order to face new challenges, resulting a new paradigm in the individual and collective relations and the social protection.

Business, Economy and Tourism

Multinational companies, Global Networks and Endogenous Development

This line focuses on the study of transnational corporations and their interrelation with local productions systems. Specifically, it is analyzed TNCs' role in articulating or segmenting local economies through the the framework of TNCs as global networks of production and distribution.

Intangibles and new forms of organization

The challenges of the knowledge economy demand public administration to implement new types of policies. In this line of research, it is studied the role of governments in the development of the society of the knowledge:

  • The dimension of the public sector in the knowledge economy with especial attention to the concepts of fiscal effort and tax burden.
  • The analysis of public policies, especially of those policies that use intensively ICT tools.

Firms and Innovation

This area focuses on how firms introduce innovations in to markets and the consequences of such innovations in areas like competition and substitution of productive factors. In addition, the spatial distribution of innovation and its determinants is a matter of interest. Finally, the effect of innovation on productivity and business competitiveness in the long term is also a key issue.

Fiscal policy and the knowledge economy

This line of research examines the impact of the intangible elements of organizations: New forms of organization, culture and communication strategy and knowledge management among others. It aims to study how intangibles decisively involved in the construction and development of sustainable competitive advantages of companies. In particular:

  • Intangibles and its impact on the competitive advantage of companies
  • National Culture, Corporate Culture. Engine or brake on innovation.

Tourism in the information society

Research priorities: the improvemento of competitiveness in businesses and tourisme destinations, the promotion of innovation in the tourism sector through the use of new technologies and information systems, the analysis os social and spatial impacts associated to tourism events, and the research and promotion of responsible and fair tourism in the tourism sector. In addition he also have interest in the application of ICT as tools of innovation in e-learning appplied to tourism. Specifically:

  • Application of ICT to innovation in tourism. In this subline it is promoted the social network analysis of tourism professionals associations, the study of new forms of augmented reality applied to tourist destinations, strategic actions addressed to promote technological innovation applied to businesses and tourism destinations.
  • Tourism events. Study of social and economic impact of events, analysis of events as a tourism product, analysis of the role of identity and social capital in the creation and development of events, tourism policy analysis on events, study of management of events and the role of stakeholders, and assessing the impact of events on the destinations and cities.
  • Responsible tourism. Analysis of fair tourism from the point of view of supply and market, the linkages between sustainability and responsible tourism, commercialization of fair tourism by travel agencies and NGOs, fair tourism impacts in destinations and the evaluation of changes in consumer behavior.

Information and Risk

This line of research examines the role of business and social information in the working of the financial market. It consists on researching how social available information can explain the risk of the shares listed on capital markets (stock exchange).

This research can be applied to or focus on:

  • different sectors, for example, the connection between risk and information in the tourism industry.
  • What type of information and how it explains or determines the cost of capital or shares.

Global Studies (Language, History and Identity)

Language, culture and identity in the global world

Identity and multilingualism is one of the main issues of social and academic debate at the international level: the phenomena of globalization, the emergence of the knowledge society and new information technologies, the intensification of flows of people worldwide and cultural and social consequences of all these phenomena raise questions and challenges to European societies, not only in terms of specific policies to manage the effects of these processes, but also in relation to the ways these societies represent themselves. These changes add to the growing complexity of the field of identity, where categories such as gender or sexuality are increasingly important, especially in the Catalan culture as they overlap with an existing situation of national conflict. Understanding of all this complexity requires not only an analysis of global dynamics, but also a historical perspective and an anchoring in specific contexts (Catalan or others). 

Sublines:

a) Language, culture and tourism: The project falls within the area of analysis of social and discursive practices associated with minority language movements in the context of globalization. The research project will focus on cultural tourism, particularly in investigating how the issues of language, identity, local cultures and regional and national contexts and tourism policies are built and their social implications. The methodology is primarily qualitative.

b) The new speakers and the deethnicization of languages: although globalization transforms our experience of time and space and ensures the universal availability of the most powerful cultural forms, it also triggers complex processes of identification and localization in all cultures. From this perspective, the traditional equation between language and culture is transformed beyond its conventional geographic and ethnocultural dimensions. A language such as Catalan is now spoken by as many native speakers as by people who learned it in their youth or adulthood. This leads to important changes in the patterns of language use, in the processes of cultural adscription and in the political significance accorded to the language. 

c) Identity, Heritage and Catalan Literary and Cultural Studies: On the one hand, Catalan literature and culture are a particularly fertile terrain to explore the issues associated with identity. However, more frequently than it would be desirable, these issues are dealt with by reducing the entire field of identity to a single category (such as the nation), from the standpoint of an idea of a subject centred on rationality (without any other determinations), and therefore outside a theoretical framework able to account for the role of phenomena that escape rationality, such as fantasy or the complex net of misrecognitions and disavowals upon which the functioning of the cultural field is based (in other words: the role of the unconscious). On the other hand, memory, identity and material and immaterial heritage need further research in the catalan context, dealing with subjects such as gastronomy, tourism and cultural identity.

Language, culture and identity in the global world - IDENTICAT
IdentiCAT Research Group Blog

Global Studies in History and Literature

The impact of globalization in the discourses produced within academia has been unequal. It has probably been more evident in the social sciences, as it has implied a certain renewal of approaches and methodologies. Yet this impact is still incipient in the Humanities. Even if there has been a progressive turn toward multidisciplinarity and a certain development of theoretical reflections about Global Studies, phenomena such as the continued existence of Area Studies are a clear evidence of the relevance of old paradigms. This line of research wants to critically ponder the meaning and potential of Global Studies within humanistic disciplines such as literature and history.

This line of research has two sublines:

a) What is the relevance of Area Studies and traditional comparative studies in the contemporary context of knowledge? What is the possible interrelation between local, national and global studies in disciplines such as history or literature? Are there past forms of global representation or articulation that illustrate contemporary globalizations and, especially, the discourses that these generate? Which are the main global mechanisms of knowledge transference in academic disciplines such as history or literature? Which are the forms of representation and self-representation embedded in the discourses of globalization? 

b) Representations of East Asia in the contemporary world: As a consequence of globalization and under the framework of the Information Society, the circulation of representations of East Asia in the West has experienced major shifts, within many domains and disciplines. The main goal of this subline of research is to analize these changes from a theoretical perspective (as in cultural theory) and/or from a specific case study (analysis of representations in media, literature, cinema, advertising and so on).  This line of research wants to tackle questions such as: What are the dominant representations of East Asia in the contemporary world? Which discourses do they contribute to create and, at the same time, in which previous discourses are they grounded? What level of interrelation do they have with other kinds of cross-cultural, cross-ethic or transnational representations? What is the role played by new technologies in the production, circulation and reception of these representations?

Crisis, Otherness and Representation - ALTER
ALTER Research Group Blog

The representations of de past, urban space and globalism

The representations of the past have been a key element to the construction of modern cultures and the creation of collective identities. However, as culture is located in one place, it also happens in regions where interactions between individuals take place. The cities and the urban spaces have a symbolic background of historic nature. The space has a history, but its representations are subjected to change, appropriation and conflict. These phenomenons have been comparatively stable in traditional society. However, in present-day society, they are deeply affected by the rapid change in position and mobility experienced by the individuals due booth migratory flows and fast-growing social and technological changes. As a result, the identification processes branch out and the representation of the past comes into conflict, and when it happens to be a traumatic past behind competition it becomes a cultural conflict.

This work lines poses questions like: How are projects for the reconstruction of the past built in concrete urban spaces? What impact does tracking the past have on present-day representations, discourses and cultural practices in urban communities? What role does the individuals' mobility processes play in the acceptance and transformation of official discourse about local past? How historic and cultural trauma and conflict are experienced within the urban space at social and individual spheres?

Funcions del passat

Heritage in conflict

This research line focuses on the developing of the following areas or subjects:

a) Heritage in time of war

b) The management of the Catalan heritage in relation to the civil war and the after war.

c) Heritage and illegal Trade (black market) en el contexto de la globalización

GRAP (SGR) Reseach Group Webpage

Cultural Studies (Literatura, Art and Digital Edition)

New discourses, practices and institutions of the arts in the network society

This research focuses on the study of the arts in the context of the network society, from different perspectives: historical, theoretical, social, economic and / or political. The starting point is the diversity of the arts as well as their current relationship and hybridization in new forms (visual arts, design, sonic arts, music, performing arts, architecture, fashion, media arts, digital arts, art and science etc... ) and also the diversity of approaches, perspectives and methodologies for the study of art and the art world, in a disciplinary and, especially, interdisciplinary way. The objective is to obtain a comprehensive and materialistic view of the new discourses, practices and institutions of art and its relationship with the past, present and future visions .

History and theory of the arts: historical and theoretical studies of the arts today, and the way they redefined the past and projected future. Some key questions are: how are evolving the discourses and theories about the arts? How the network society, globalization and information and communication technologies are transforming stories and theories of contemporary art? What role does the materiality of the arts play in the definition of the field? Which epistemological and methodological changes facing art history today?

Museums and Arts: museological studies in the field of modern art and its connection with the new digital media and the ongoing transformations of the functions of the Museums and Arts Centers. Some key questions are: Which is the role of museums today? And how the museums and other art institutions redefine its scope in relation to the current social transformations? Which transformations are happening inside museums and other institutions due the intervention of new media? How to transcend the study of visitors and walk towards a relational view of the museums an art centers? How to walk towards a participatory museum and cultural center? What current challenges have documentation and preservation fields in museums and society in general? How to move towards a critical museology?

Sociology of the arts: social studies in the arts, relationship between art and society. Some key questions are: what is the role of the arts in the establishment and consolidation of social cohesion? How are social distinction dynamics happening through the arts? How is generated the value of art? How social relations are articulated in the art world? With whicht devices? How to generate relevant empirical social studies of art? What is the role of new media in redefining the relationship between art and society?

Political economy of the arts: economic and political studies of the arts, and studies of the arts from a systemic perspective, market analysis of the arts. Some key questions are: How it is constructed the symbolic and economic value of the arts today? How  arts markets are redefined in the context of the network society? What is the role of information and communication technologies in this redesign? What is the relationship between the current collecting practices and the material/ inmaterial artistic practices? What role do galleries and other cultural agents play in this system? How to articulate cultural policies related to the field of contemporary art in the network society?

InteractuArt: art and society in the digital age - GROPUWARE. CAT
Pau Alsina's Blog

Comparative literature and reader-response theory

Analysis of a textual corpus or the production of a specific writer from the perspective of the aesthetics of reception. A special focus can be on literary analysis of images and myths related to technology and political utopias. Working languages can include English, French, Chinese, Catalan and/or Spanish.

Methodology is based on several research lines:

a) Exhaustive compilation of works or creation/selection of a corpus according to justified criteria.

b) Analysis of works in relation to their culture of reception, hypertexts, hipotexts and intertexts. Analysis of the success and impact of these works. Analysis of possible influences by these works or their writers upon the culture of reception.

c) In the case of translations/adaptations, contrast between the original work and the translated/adapted work and their cultures. Analysis of these works' editorial paratext.

Ebooks and digital publishing

In the context of the Internet and the digitization of information, books and written culture in general are undergoing major changes. In order to analyze these changes, with a solid empirical base and focusing on real phenomena instead of speculating about the future, we propose the following research areas that emphasize the special role of the different stakeholders involved and the practices by which usersappropriate and domesticatetechnological innovations:

a) Transformations of the publishing industry: production, distribution and marketing of books.

b) Changes in reading habits and prescribing systems

c) Formats and reading devices: features and forms of interaction with the work

d) Conflicts between free culture and proprietary culture

e) Authors and digital strategy

f) Public and Academic Libraries: access to digital works

g) Applications and new textual genres

h) Digital philological edition

Teresa Iribarren webpage

Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Catalan Literature and Culture

Contemporary Catalan literature and culture are a particularly fertile terrain to explore the issues associated with identity in the context of globalization. However, more frequently than it would be desirable, these issues are dealt with by reducing the entire field of identity to a single category (such as the nation), from the standpoint of an idea of a subject centred on rationality (without any other determinations), and therefore outside a theoretical framework able to account for the role of phenomena that escape rationality, such as fantasy or the complex net of misrecognitions and disavowals upon which the functioning of the cultural field is based (in other words: the role of the unconscious). Thus in this research line we are interested in the complex and often conflictive relations between subjectivity (desire, the body, identity, the processes of subject formation) and sociality, the institutional dynamics in culture (such as canon construction, authorship, or legitimation), collective phenomena such as the nation, mechanisms of social stratification such as taste, or the dynamics of subordination and resistance.

We do not attempt to answer these questions directly, but instead we approach them through the analysis of aspects of contemporary Catalan culture and its discourses, institutional practices, and representations (such as literary, cinematic and televisual texts, for example). The theoretical framework on which our work is based includes cultural theory, aspects of contemporary thought, psychoanalysis, feminist theory, and queer theory.

Identicat Research Group Page
Identicat Research Group Blog

Culture and Society in the Digital Era

Culture and technology: the social production of subjectivity in contemporary culture

This research line focuses on the links between culture and society through the mediation of cultural industries, information and communication technologies and consumption, three areas in continuous transformation. By carrying out research in this area, it seeks to participate in the current discussions on how the changes in culture and society are changing our subjective experience of the social world. Possible research projects fields: 

a) Qualitative and quantitative research projects on lifestyles, cultural consumption and production in the context of everyday life appropriation of media and technology. The goal is to analyse how changes in technology, media and cultural industries modify the articulation of cultural differences and social inequalities. 

b) Research projects on the link between emotions and technology, and more precisely on how technology is articulating embodiment and emotions. Its aim is to analyse the place of emotions in shaping modern subjectivities in the consumer society and information and communication technologies.

c) Studies in the research area of the sociology of art and music, emotions, time, memory and experience in the knowledge and information society.

Research Group GRECS

Body, gender and sexualities in digital media

We propose to undertake empirical research on the following fields:

a) Gender Activisms in a global world: We aim to analize the relationship between the ICT and new social movements, in particular those identity-based movements such as the LGTB movement, men's movements, feminisms, etc. Some aspects to be developed are the forms of sociability and associationism organized around identity categories related to gender and sexuality in online contexts, offline contexts or from the articulation of both into systemic forms of sociability and associationism.

b) Digital corporalities: this field explores the construction of social co-presence and the self in digital interactions through different embodied strategies, narratives and visuality regims. We pretend to think and analyse how we perform our bodies, sensoriality and emotions in the digital media and the gendered strategies at play. The intersections between bodies and genders are crucial for understanding and exploring embodiment in mediated communication in everyday life.

c) Representations of genders and sexualities in (digital) media: we will focus onthe representation of genders and sexual identities in all kinds of digital media. We aim to analyse the mechanisms and strategies of presentation and representation of genders and sexualities in social media, as well as the performance of the public, intimacy, sexuality and the body.

d) Virtual Communities of Patients, Body and Stigma in Digital Media: This research project will center in the digital mediation in the construction of body identity of men and women who suffer a mental disorder. Students will select cases of study (blogs, personal webs...) of men and women who self-label as mentally disturbed in order to analyse how illness is embodied, that is, to analyse how the body is used to self-identify as members of a special collective identity and its therapeutical effects. This subline includes the emergence of virtual communities of patients related to social phsicology and eHealth.

Technology and Social Action - ATIC
Digital Culture and New Media Research - MEDIACCIONS

Food, culture and social transformations

Our contemporary ways of feeding are part of the cultures and societies in which they develop themselves and, like these cultures, are in a constant and continuous reformulation and evolution - it is obvious that today we do not eat as we did fifty years ago or as we'll do in fifty years.Changes in habits and food structures also affect everyone, regardless of gender, social class, age or culture of origin. The doctoral research line outlined here aims to think on these issues. The proposal is a transversal and pluridisciplinary one, since feeding is not a field that can be addressed from a single discipline. As a complex and polyhedral cultural phenomenon, it needs as open approaches as possible.

Sub-lines:

a) Food and contemporary culture and society: The sociocultural viewpoint of feeding and human nutrition gives us a vision that goes far beyond the biological. This sub-line includes the following subjects: eating habits in relation to social groups and collectives, including eating as a social act, as a power symbol or as an identity factor, because of its relationship with the world of beliefs and aesthetics. 

b) Gastronomy, new digital media and collaborative networks: Analysis of new practices and socialization of knowledge around the cuisine, popular gastronomy or culinary tourism among others, encouraged by the widespread use of mobile devices and the emergence of social networks.Analysis of the organization and the social impact of this kind of practices and the social groups they generate. 

c) Culinary heritage, tradition, identity and tourism: Analysis of the changes in the idea of culinary heritage, tradition and identity and its preservation and dissemination through new media. Study of the interaction between the networks of culinary cooperation and the creation of new tourist services.

Science, technology and social innovation

a) Creative practices in digital culture: we propose research projects related to the social analysis of digital culture in its broad sense, especially in relation to creative practice, design processes and collaborative forms in production environments and digital technology. Within this scope, we also consider the social transformations in the definition of expert knowledge, materiality, space and time, as well as the tensions between different cultural models and moral orders in the way of understanding citizen participation, innovation and the future.

b) Commons-based peer production: Mass online collaborative projects like those in free software or Wikipedia are among the most outstanding social phenomena around the Internet. Some authors claim they represent a new way of collective production since they take place in a non-market context and, on the other hand, do not depend on hierarchical organizational structures or managerial systems. While these projects are often depicted as horizontal and self-organized, they make use of very complex and sophisticated procedures for peer-review, accreditation, and participation often implying different roles and privileges for their participants. What is the role of those governance or community-management systems in fostering participation or ensuring quality? What are the different outcomes of different governance systems? What are their common features? To which degree are they built inside the technical architecture of the collaboration platforms? Are they also open to discussion and modification by users? 

c) eScience: The Internet has had a deep impact on many aspects of social collaboration and creativity. On one side, users' involvement in the creation of software has eroded the traditional distinction between users and producers: the open-source and free software movements are clear examples of this new situation. On the other side, the emergence of P2P networks has dramatically increased the collective ability of sharing cultural contents and thus creating new works. But how are these new phenomena affecting science, scientific practices and communities? Are patterns of collaboration among scientists changing? Is the publishing system, including the peer-review systems, changing as a result of electronic and open access publications? 

d) Civic epistemology: The concept of "civic epistemology" has been proposed to understand how polities generate, validate, use, or change scientific knowledge in making collective policies, and also how these polities differ in their responses to environmental, political, medical, and technological issues. Sheila Jasanoff defines civic epistemology as "the institutionalized practices by which members of a given society test knowledge claims used as a basis for making collective choices." It encompasses facets such as styles and evidentiary standards for articulating knowledge claims; the empowerment of societal actors in determining who has expertise; building institutions to adjudicate between different knowledge claims; and developing hybrid knowledges through environmentalist-industry alliances. Civic epistemology has mainly been studied in countries like USA, UK and Germany. It would be very interesting to explore civic epistemology in Spain - and other countries - in order to facilitate international comparison.

Digital Culture and New Media Research - MEDIACCIONS
GADE Research Group
Pau Alsina's Blog

Linguistics in the Information Society

Linguistics and Applied Linguistics in the Information Society

This line of research offers four approaches:

a) Linguistics for natural language processing

b) Metaphor and frames theory (as on G. Lakoff's work) for the analysis of discourse and attitudes on media and society.

c) Machine translation and translation tools: Statistical and Example-Based Machine Translation; translation tools; use of very large parallel corpora to improve the quality of these systems; automatic terminology extraction; machine learning to acquire linguistic resources.

d) Special languages and terminology research oriented to theoretical reflection and delimitation, translation processes or natural language processing. Studies on neological processes in the information society.

LPG - Language Processing Group

Applied Social Science and Behavioral Economics

E-READINESS, DIGITAL DIVIDE AND ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT (ICT4D)

The e-Readiness, Digital Divide and ICT4D research line focuses its research on the modeling of the Information Society after the indicators, the measuring of the degree of development of the digital economy and society, as well as the design of public policies based on these indicators. The followed approach is both the theoretical definition and measurement of the digital divide (and therefore related to e-Readiness research line) as well as applied public and private policies and initiatives to fight against the digital divide in combat it in several scenarios of the society - households, education, government, businesses - and the different fields related to development: ICT and poverty, mobiles for development (m4d), e-learning for development (el4d ), ICT for rural development (ICT4RD), ICT and humanitarian aid, ICT and development cooperation, etc.

ACTIVISM, HACKTIVISM, SOCIAL PLATFORMS AND NETWORK POLITICAL MOVEMENTS

The analysis of political action often stands on the traditional actors of democracy (governments, parliaments, political parties, trade unions, NGOs) and, in some cases, if compares their activity with other extra-representative or off-institutions initiatives. The Network Society, however, has witnessed the emergence of new players who have, at the same time, characteristics of institutions and of decentralized and extra-representative political actions. We analyze the emergence of network political movements, their configuration and their transformation over time and space, their relationship with the actors of traditional democracy and media, as well as their entanglement with physical spaces and political actions.

HEALTH IN THE NETWORK SOCIETY

Health systems are undergoing a paradigm shift, from `Industrial Age Medicine to Information Age Healthcare'. This research line focuses on the analysis of this transition that is shaping health systems; transforming the role of health actors (patients, citizens, health professionals, managers, policy-makers) and having an impact on the quality, efficiency and equity of health care.

BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS

The Behavioural Economics research line explores alternatives to perfect rationality, understanding how individuals make decisions that are inconsistent with standard economic theory and the assumptions of rational decision-making. Therefore, Behavioural Economics challenges the neo-classical economic models, based on the assumption that individuals are capable of making economic decisions consistently to maximize their own interests. Building on research in cognitive and social psychology and sociology, behavioural economics explores alternatives to perfect rationality through the analysis of how intention, cognition and emotions interact with interpersonal relationships; social networks and norms in decision-making.

PUBLIC SECTOR INNOVATION AND ICT

The Public Sector innovation research line analyses the role of ICT as enabler of innovationin the public sector focusing on Government, eHealth, eGovernance, eInclusion, Open Government, and transparent government and how the interaction of ICT within the different actors facilitates:Service innovation (new service or an improvement to the quality of an existing service); Service delivery innovation (new or altered ways of supplying public services); Administrative/organisational innovation (changes in organisational structures and routines); Conceptual innovation (the development of new views and challenges to existing assumptions); Policy innovation (changes to thinking or behavioural intentions in policy making); and Systemic innovation (new or improved ways of interacting with other organisations and sources of knowledge).

Technoscience, culture and society

TECUSO research interests revolve around the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

The notion of technoscience introduces here a specific nuance that, on the one hand, gives specificity to our research interests and on the second hand, makes room for a particular approach to the study of knowledge societies. It is a term coined in STS to designate the intermingled relations between science, technology and society as object of scientific interest for social sciences. As science and technology are deeply embedded in knowledge society, the study of almost any cultural production and social formation in this context must be approached as a result of materially heterogeneous and dynamic processes. This claim is based on the fact that technoscience, rather than enclosed in specific and clearly identifiable institutions, is nowadays seamlessly intertwined in a variety of cultural and social practices. 

Within this general framework, our research activity is currently focused on:

Public controversies and concerned groups

The constitution and proliferation of hybrid assemblies mixing lay people and experts in order to solve public controversies has become a common feature of our societies. Such hybrid forums can take place as an institutional ("top-down") initiative, promoting participatory mechanisms such as public consultation and consensus conferences, or as social mobilization ("bottom-up") actions, as for example, those of concerned groups that call for greater participation in the definition of social care policies in Spain (our current case study). In this context, we are interested in supervising projects that study bottom-up forms of public participation in a knowledge-oriented politics. In particular, we are interested in identifying the role that expert and non-expert forms knowledge play in contemporary forms of public mobilization. How concerned groups display their concern, make it visible and manage to accumulate knowledge and support their claims? What's the role of grounded knowledge and personal experiences to legitimate their claims as well as to mobilize and empower people?

Contact: Israel Rodríguez-Giralt

email: irodriguezgir@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/IsraelRodriguezGiralt

Disasters and Politics

While a robust community of engineers and policymakers works on disasters, their approach has not directly engaged with the social and political constituents of disasters. Conversely, how catastrophes and disasters become objects of analysis and action, and their role in the emergence of new actors and institutions have not been fully addressed by social scientists. This line of research encourages students to explore the link between disasters, politics and social change. How catastrophes reshape routines, collectives, conventions and institutions? How these realities trouble the demarcation between the social and the natural, the technological and the political? How responsibilities are allocated? Which agents participate in prevention, mitigation or reconstruction plans? What are the practices, the resources and the knowledge involved in the definition of what constitutes a disaster?

Contact: Israel Rodríguez-Giralt

email: irodriguezgir@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/IsraelRodriguezGiralt

Social movements as actor-networks

Despite an increasing interest within STS for the impact of contemporary changes in governance and expertise on public participation, non-governmental organisations and networks of protest, the analysis of how STS and ANT perspectives can contribute to the general study of social movements is, in our view, still pending. The aim of this line of research is to explore the relevance of Science and Technology Studies, and in particular Actor-Network Theory, for the study of social movements and other forms of collective action. We are interested in PhD proposals interested in analysing how a material-semiotic sensibility and method of analysis may transform the understanding and conceptualisation of contemporary social, cultural and political activism. At the same time, we are interested in analysing how the study of these realities can transform or question STS analyses and methods. 

Contact: Israel Rodríguez-Giralt

email: irodriguezgir@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/IsraelRodriguezGiralt

Care technologies and autonomy-enabling innovations in ageing societies

The rise of long-term care needs in contemporary societies has generated a boom of innovations such as social alarms, telecare, self-tracking technologies and ehealth designed to promote independent and healthy living. Their users are responsible for taking care of his/her own health, of monitoring his/her own activity and for making decisions related to his/her lifestyle, bearing in mind its associated risks.  This definition of `independent living' has often played the role of a future-oriented norm, as a promise that would help prevent the collapse of healthcare and social care systems. 

Drawing mainly on domestication studies and material-semiotic studies of innovation, we are interested in analyzing how healthiness, autonomy, care and solidarity as well as certain social identities are inscribed in technology design, enacted when these innovations are implemented and challenged and embodied when appropriated by the users. Also, we are devoted to the study of their place-making effects and the community of practices and forms of sociality emerging around them.

Contact person: Daniel López Gómez

email: dlopezgo@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/DanielLopez

Mundane inventions and marginalized user-led innovation

Innovation is becoming more inclusive. Users must be actively involved all along the innovation process. But despite the efforts in this regard, certain social groups such as older, disabled and marginalized people, are still considered as no more than `beneficiaries' of such innovations, hence representing them and incorporating them in the process as `vulnerable' consumers in need of new solutions, and with little or no ability to generate their own `solutions'. In fact, the mundane inventions and arrangements devised by these social groups have been traditionally seen as dysfunctional, expressing needs that technological innovations can satisfy. 

Our aim is to analyze these mundane inventions as daily-life culturally informed embodied entanglements and reflect upon the following questions: What kind of "epistemic communities" and "communities of practice" are related to these mundane inventions? How these inventions emerge and what kind of methods and procedures made this possible? How are knowledge, expertise and skills socially distributed in the production of these mundane inventions? How is their identity enacted in these mundane inventions? How can these mundane inventions feed innovation processes? Do they challenge participatory methods?

Contact person:Daniel López

email: dlopezgo@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/DanielLopez

Sociology of maintenance and material fragility

There are things everywhere but very often we do not think about their vulnerabilities, their changing states, their fragility. What if their vulnerabilities, changing states and fragilities would also be ours? As Puig de la Bellacasa's (2011) and Latour (2004) has suggested we should attend to `things' othered and permanently absent from our political agendas in order to re-think, symmetrically, our life in common. That is the reason why we would like to focus empirically on different sets of knowledge practices related to `care for matter' matters, bearing in mind how these could help us take care of ourselves and our things in better ways, as crucial, though largely invisible, processes in the ongoing performation of sociomaterial order (Graham & Thrift, 2007): practices of mending, repair and maintenance, interventions on technologically dense environments, ways of dealing with broken or worn-out infrastructures, etc.

How do we know something needs to be taken care of and how? How could world-making be transformed if we thought of those activities of acknowledging and dealing with things' brokenness and disposal? What sort of caring and ethical orders are thus produced? We believe that taking into account the variegated knowledge practices of `care for matter' would be of great interest as an ethical guide in our world-making endeavours, in our ways of caring for vulnerable worlds. 

Contact person:Daniel López

email: dlopezgo@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/DanielLopez

Art, Science, Technology and Society

Throughout history art practices have been hybridizing with all kinds of sciences and technologies, exploring new materials, new ideas, new contexts, forms and spaces of creation. In the context of the Network Society these processes, largely present in the culture, are emphasized and accelerated leading to multiple specific practices -such as the Media Arts- that intersect art, science, technology and society, often critically and /or in an innovative way. An approach to their study and analysis from the perspective of STS and ANT is particularly fertile and proper, and allows not only their specific study but taking on new onto-epistemic challenges for the study and analysis of art and the art world itself from a material-semiotic approach. Some relevant questions have to do with the study of these materially and discursively heterogeneous relations that produce and reorganize all kinds of actors in the practices, discourses or institutions involved.

Contact person:Pau Alsina

email: palsinag@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/PauAlsina

Food, science and technology

Technoscience pervades the production, handling, processing, distribution, selling and storage of food, but also embodied practices such as cooking, tasting and eating. On the one hand, we are interested in studying the role of new media, innovative appliances, experts of food (chefs, nutritionist, environmentalists, etc.) and alternative networks of food in the transfer of food learning within households. On the other hand, we are devoted to the analysis of innovation processes in gastronomy. What is the role of science and technology in the production of new crafting/cooking processes, tasting dispositions, appraisal methods and forms of food-related sociality?

Contact person:Daniel López

email: dlopezgo@uoc.edu

https://uoc.academia.edu/DanielLopez

Health technology applications

Over recent years, health sciences have seen progress in a number of technological fields including medical equipment and imaging for diagnostic, interventional or therapeutic procedures.

These advances are thanks to the rise of digital technology, which allows for the processing of information locally or at a distance via telemedicine. For example, clinical data can now be accessed using applications on mobile telephones.

There are medical specialities using imaging techniques that are making it increasingly easy to obtain diagnostic information and improve therapeutic success rates. These techniques are both beneficial to patients and cost effective. Likewise, thanks to their becoming more well known, there is also growing interest in distance education of medical specialities that include complementary tests that rely heavily on technology.

The members of the Health Technology Applications team look at the technological advances made in imaging for diagnostic, interventional or therapeutic procedures in the different medical specialities and share and disseminate their findings.

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