Fenwick McKelvey

Concordia University

Department of Communication Studies
Address: 7141 Sherbrooke St. West CJ-3.230 Montreal, Quebec H4B 1R6
Tel: (514) 848-2424 ext. 8673
Fax: (514) 848-4257
Email: fenwick.mckelvey@concordia.ca

PhD Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture (Ryerson University and York University)

Fenwick McKelvey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University. He specializes in research on the fields of communication and journalism. More specifically, Professor McKelvey is examining questions of the algorithmic media, internet traffic management, internet policy, and governance. In addition, he has been working on research investigating the use of campaign management sofware in political campaigns in Canada and the US.

Research Axis
Axis 2: Practicing Citizenship in a Skeptical World - The practice of democratic citizenship is undergoing a multifaceted transition. There are fundamental changes in conceptions of democratic citizenship and in its practice as well as the targets of citizen action. Scepticism about representative democracy as a system of governance is growing and citizens across established democracies are withdrawing from politics. Their perception about the political world is impacted by transformations in the news media practices and by online content, including social media. Voting and party politics have been the basis of conventional interpretations of citizenship, but there is ample evidence that this conception is much too limited. New forms of communication are providing citizens with novel ways to gather information and to engage in politics.

Axis 3: Representing and Governing Citizens in Critical Times - After learning and practicing democratic citizenship, the next critical steps are representation and governance. Democratic institutions are key elements. They shape the norms and incentives for active citizenship and they link citizens and their representatives in ways that foster accountability, legitimacy and representation. In Québec and Canada, as well as in other countries, confidence of citizens toward the institutions is low, as many dislike the way that members of parliaments behave and consider that politicians don’t honour their promises, hence various political endeavours to reform these institutions. Research on this axis will focus on the role of electoral systems, parliaments, parliamentary debates, and political parties.

Adnan Raja, PhD
(Start: 2017)

Maggie MacDonald, MA
(Start: 2017)

Terry Newman, MA
(Start: 2018)
The 2015 Canadian federal election campaign may be remembered most of all for its "candidate controversies." In an almost daily ritual, citizen bloggers exhumed the "unacceptable" words of candidates from their social media accounts, the press reported, the shell-shocked political parties responded, the citizen bloggers responded to the responses, and everyone suddenly found themselves pulled, perhaps unknowingly, into an implicit seminar on Canadian values. Had what these candidates said online been un-Canadian? As of yet, no one has seriously explored the ramifications of this remarkable element of the campaign. What effect did all these attacks, responses, and counter-responses have? It is the hypothesis of this research that social media has had, and will continue to have, a chilling effect on the expression of personal values in political life. The more social media becomes the central pillar of our public sphere, the more political candidates become constrained in the values they are permitted to possess or communicate, and this will, in turn, have a devastating effect on the proper functioning of representative democracy in Canada. We need to better understand the nature of the discourse on Canadian values that coalesces at the intersection of politics, journalism, and social media. Only by examining these dialogues, knowing how they function, and exploring the rhetorical methods they employ to create and maintain the illusion of consensus can we uncover the effects this sort of discourse may have on our ability to know and communicate our values in the public and political sphere. My thesis will trace and reconstruct the web of communications that emerged during the campaign between two citizen blogs, The True North Times and Some Random Political Blog, and various Canadian news articles. It will examine the responses, including punitive actions or lack thereof, from the political parties. It will pursue the lines of power within these communications to ascertain who precisely had the final say on what a proper Canadian value is, and how that party legitimized or enforced that claim. My goal, ultimately, is to discover which values were expressed, which were silenced, who had the power to determine the status of those values, and what sort of discourse that party used in the employment of that power. I will use as foundation the existing scholarly literature on the effect the evolution of communications technology has had on representative democracy in Canada (Carty, 1996; Fletcher, 1994; Anderson, 2006; and Doughty, 2014), and my knowledge on discourse analysis. I will use the coding system I created for my undergraduate research, and apply it to my new research, focusing on rhetoric coming from the citizen blogs, the media companies, and the political parties; my hypothesis is that, through this web, a consensus on Canadian values was enforced by means of which we would not approve, and by parties to whom we would not consciously or deliberately give such power. This issue is not about to go away, and given the rise of identity politics in Europe and the United States (not to mention Kellie Leitch’s Conservative leadership campaign here), we should all fully expect the next Canadian election(s) to be even more fraught with these debates than the previous one, with both values and social media playing an increasingly determining role. My research into the phenomenon of the 2015 candidate controversies will add essential knowledge to our understanding of the changing nature of political communications in an age of social media, and the effect those online communications will continue to have on the outcome of our democratic processes.

Tom Hackbarth, MA
(Start: 2018)

The Permanent Campaign: New Media, New Politics
Year: 2012
Place: New York
Publisher: Peter Lang

A Consensual Hallucination No More? The Internet as Simulation Machine
Journal: European Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume: 18
issue: 4
Year: 2015
First Page: 577
Last Page: 594
M. tiessen
L. Simcoe

End and ways: The algorithmic politics of network neutrality
Journal: Global Media Journal - Canadian Edition
Volume: 3
issue: 1
Year: 2010

A Programmable Platform? Drupal, Modularity, and the Future of the Web
Journal: Fibreculture
Volume: 18
Year: 2011

Mapping Commercial Web 2.0 Worlds: Towards a New Critical Ontogenesis
Journal: Fibreculture
Volume: 14
Year: 2009
F. Langlois
G. Elmer
K. Werbin

Networked Publics: the Double Articulation of Code and Politics on Facebook
Journal: Canadian Journal of Communication
Volume: 34
issue: 3
Year: 2009
First Page: 415
Last Page: 434
G. Langlois
G. Elmer
Z. Devereaux

Election Bloggers: Methods for Determining Political Influence
Journal: First Monday
Volume: 12
issue: 4
Year: 2007
G. Elmer
P. Ryan
Z. Devereaux
G. Langlois and J. Redden

Openness Compromise? Questioning the Role of Openness in Digital Methods and Contemporary Critical Praxis
Journal: Compromised Data: From Social Media to Big Data
Year: 2015
First Page: 126
Last Page: 146
Place: New York
Publisher: Bloomsbury

You Are Not Welcome Among Us: Pirates and the State
Journal: International Journal of Communication
Volume: 9
issue: 19
Year: 2015
First Page: 890
Last Page: 908
J. Beyer

Algorithmic Media Need Algorithmic Methods: Why Publics Matter
Journal: Canadian Journal of Communication
Volume: 39
issue: 4
Year: 2014

Internet Demons: Te Programs Optimizing Internet Communications
Year: 2018
Place: Minneapolis
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Canada: Building Bot Typologies
Journal: Computational propaganda: political parties, politicians, and political manipulation on social media
Year: 2018
First Page: 64
Last Page: 85
Elizabeth Dubois
Place: New-York
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Scandals and Screenshots: Social Media Elites in Canadian Politics
Journal: Political Elites in Canada: Power and Influence in Instantaneous Times
Year: 2018
Côté, M
Raynauld, R
Place: Vancouver
Publisher: University of British Columbia Press

Hillary 2016
Journal: Appified
Year: 2018
Place: Ann Arbor
Publisher: University of Michigan Press

Does the Diference Compute? Data-Driven Campaigning in Canada
Journal: What's #Trending In Canadian Politics? Understanding Transformations in Power, Media, and the Public Sphered
Year: 2019
Place: Vancouver
Publisher: University of British Columbia Press

Bugging out: darknets as parasites of large-scale media objects
Journal: Media, Culture & Society
Volume: 41
issue: 2
Year: 2019
First Page: 219
Last Page: 235
Robert Gehl

Discoverability: Toward a Definition of Content Discovery Through Platforms
Journal: Social Media + Society
Volume: 5
issue: 1
Year: 2019
Robert Hunt

Complementary realities: Public domain Internet measurements in the development of Canada's universal access policies
Journal: The Information Society
Volume: 35
issue: 2
Year: 2019

Porting the political campaign: Te NationBuilder platform and the global fows of political technology
Journal: New Media & Society
Year: 2018
Jill Piebiak

ARPANET and its boundary devices: modems, IMPs, and the interstructuralism of infrastructures
Journal: Internet Histories
Year: 2018
First Page: 1
Last Page: 20
Kevin Driscoll