Brendan Mahoney

Brendan Mahoney, Ph.D.

Brendan Mahoney
  • Upcoming Graduate

Brendan Mahoney’s research interests relate broadly to the relationship between the internet and ideology, and he currently studies the processes through which digital platforms afford and disrupt social movement spaces.

As someone who grew up on a computer, Brendan Mahoney is really just trying to understand what the internet has done to him. When he’s feeling especially ambitious, he likes to imagine he’s trying to understand what the internet has done to us all. What identities has the internet opened space for? What worldviews has it enabled? What political imaginaries does it afford? Are they the same identities, worldviews, and imaginaries that predate the internet, the ones which conceived of the technology in the first place? Put plainly, what relationship exists between the internet and our ideologies? This question has occupied much of Brendan’s academic career, driving him to build a background in critical theories of ideology and qualitative methods. Thanks to wide-reaching interests and chronic indecision (and growing up on a computer) though, he’s spent considerable time studying computational methods as well.

At Annenberg, Brendan is currently applying this mix of interests and skills to study the role that social media platforms have played in the development of social movements. Social movements occupy an important position within the broader questions above, as they are the means through which ideological change occurs. Do platforms impact their formation and strategy, and thus this process of change? Brendan is interested in understanding this question from a variety of perspectives, including the users’ experience of participating in movements as well as the platforms’ infrastructural and design decisions that alter the possibilities of interaction. He’s also interested in understanding this question from a variety of methods, including qualitative approaches like digital ethnography and discourse analysis as well as more quantitative approaches like semantic network analysis and natural language processing.


  • B.A., SUNY Geneseo, 2018