Brendan Mahoney is a young researcher who has in short become determined to one day understand the people around them. This desire originated in studies of critical theory and centered on inquiries into how ideology forms our subjective experiences of the world, which mediums expose us to that ideology, and precisely what determines the dominant ideologies in a given setting. Thanks to wide-reaching interests and chronic indecision, however, Mahoney has also spent considerable time studying quantitative methods like statistics, network theory, and microeconomic analysis.
At Annenberg, this mix of interests and skills has led Mahoney to study the formation and maintenance of ideology on digital platforms using computational methods. The way that worldviews are formed has changed for many and perhaps for good in the Information Age, and Mahoney hopes to develop novel approaches for studying this phenomenon. A running list of their research questions includes: How can tools of network analysis be used to quantify features of ideological discourse? Can we use them to better understand ideological change and conflict? In what way do platforms, broadly defined, operate as a new ideological apparatus—and how do the economic interests of the companies maintaining these platforms impact this process? Simply put, exactly what does the internet do to ideology and what does it show that ideology has been doing all along?
Brendan Mahoney is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication.