SMGI Research Network


Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory is launching a new research network within their Social Media Governance Initiative. The Research Network is a consortium of scholars working together to examine the sociocultural impacts of digital technologies on contemporary social life. The Network’s specific focus on governance is rooted in the challenge of creating pro-social interaction online and ensuring that digital technologies effectively serve their users and communities.

Pro-social is a key term for us. In using this term, we mean to contrast currently-popular governance strategies rooted in identification and punishment of rule-breaking and instead promote strategies that enhance cooperation, engagement, and internalized rule-following.

The scholars in the Research Network represent a diverse range of social science and humanities disciplines, including psychology, law, human computer interaction, sociology, and anthropology. The purpose of the group is to create novel research and thought leadership opportunities that are not limited to a single discipline or field.

The Network’s approaches are empirically-grounded and are evidence-informed. Its scholars will conduct foundational research and develop recommendations that can help scholars, policy makers, civic actors and those working in technology fields to promote pro-social interactions and contribute to the well-being of users and communities.

The initial work of the Research Network is to define the newly-emerging field of Social Media Governance. To date, social media governance has focused mainly on punitive and outcome-oriented governance. Building on previous work, the Network considers more pro-social approaches that expand the tools and methods to create healthy online conversations and connections.

A partial list of research topics that group will explore include (but are not limited to):

  • Designing online environments that foster pro social interaction and communication.
  • Creating and implementing policies that both mitigate risk and engender healthy interaction within an organization, and between an organization and their constituents.
  • Cultivating productive relations between researchers and technology companies to advance thought leadership, training, and scientific study.

Current Activities

Edited Volume: We will produce a problem statement that outlines the key questions motivating this research. We will invite a wider group of scholars.

Collaborative Research and Data Access: We are pursuing collaborations with several digital tech companies to access relevant data, inform design decisions, and evaluate outcomes in relation to our research projects.

Capacity Building & Development: We are currently seeking resources for graduate student fellowships, research assistantships, and overall support for research data collection.

Training & Mentorship: We will train students in our respective research laboratories, centers, and institutes to become the next generation of scholars in this arena.

Network Members

Farzaneh Badiei, Director of Social Media Governance Initiative at The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School

Tracey Meares, (SMGI Research Network, Co-Director), Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and Founding Director of The Justice Collaboratory

Paolo Parigi, Associate Director, Computational Social Science at IRiSS, Stanford University. Researcher, Facebook

Baron Pineda, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Oberlin College

Caroline Sarnoff, Executive Director of The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School

Sarita Schoenebeck, Associate Professor, School of Information, University of Michigan

Tom Tyler, (SMGI Research Network, Co-Director), Macklin Fleming Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology and Founding Director of The Justice Collaboratory

Sudhir Venkatesh, (SMGI Research Network, Co-Director), Williams B. Ransford Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Network’s Relation to SMGI and JC

The Justice Collaboratory’s Social Media Governance Initiative (SMGI) will host the research network. SMGI has already established and will expand a general pro-social network consisting of academic researchers and corporate partners.

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Questions or comments can be emailed to us at smgi@yale.edu.