'Does Facebook make us better citizens?'

CLU professor to discuss his research at free lecture

José Marichal asserts that Facebook’s “architecture of disclosure” shapes users’ political identities by drawing them further into their pre-selected social networks.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Oct. 3, 2012) A California Lutheran University political science professor will discuss the effect Facebook has on people as citizens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in the Lundring Events Center.

José Marichal will present “Does Facebook Make Us Better Citizens?” as part of the Center for Equality and Justice (CEJ) Lecture Series.

Marichal draws on an ethnographic analysis of 250 Facebook political groups to examine the impact of the Facebook revolution on politics and, in particular, democratic processes. In his new book, “Facebook Democracy: The Architecture of Disclosure and the Threat to Public Life,” he explores how Facebook’s emphasis on social connection impacts key dimensions of political participation including mobilization, deliberation and attitude formation.

The Thousand Oaks resident asserts that the site’s “architecture of disclosure” shapes users’ political identities by drawing them further into their pre-selected social networks. Facebook’s business model calls for creating an affirming environment so that people want to stay there, not one that lends itself to challenging discourse. He found that people who do talk about politics usually do it to vent rather than mobilize people. The structure of Facebook encourages conversations about how people feel about issues rather than what should be done about them.

The CLU associate professor teaches courses on the Internet and politics, public policy, race and politics, community development and California politics. His current projects include a study of the relationship between acquiring digital skills and feelings of trust and efficacy among Latinos and African Americans and an examination of how “civic hacking,” the use of technology to improve civic life, affects power dynamics at the local level. He is the founder of the blog ThickCulture, which is sponsored by Contexts magazine.

Marichal writes on a wide range of issues and is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. In March, he spoke on “Latino Participation Dynamics in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Movement” at the 2012 Western Political Science Association Annual Conference in Portland, Ore. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University and a doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The Lundring Events Center is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center on the north side of Olsen Road between Mountclef Boulevard and Campus Drive in Thousand Oaks.

The CEJ and the Political Science Department are sponsoring the free event. For more information, contact the CEJ at 805-493-3694 or cej@callutheran.edu.