“If earlier you had a problem finding relevant information, now it’s a challenge to choose useful and non-misleading material from the huge flow of it” – 5in10 with Taisiia Ratushna
Taisiia Ratushna is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Zaporizhzhia National University. In 2010, she received her PhD in Sociology from the Classical Private University (Zaporizhzhia). Since then, she has been working in the Department of Sociology at the Zaporizhzhia National University and conducts research on communication processes in urban space and in virtual environments. In 2020, she received an MA in Psychology. Taisiia also cooperates with NGOs and advises them on conducting sociological research. Her current research interests are digitalization and the impact of the internet and social media on modern society. Taisiia Ratushna is a 2022/2023 Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.
How would you explain your research to someone who’s not an expert?
In general, I’m interested in how individuals communicate and (re)present themselves in virtual space, how they consume media, and how they use information from the internet. I also examine how certain groups screen media content and process different types of information. Given the fact that the internet is a self-regulated, almost uncontrolled environment, fake news, manipulative material, and disinformation can spread in a very short time and have a significant impact on public opinion.
If earlier you had a problem finding relevant information, now it’s a challenge to choose useful and non-misleading material from the huge flow of it. It’s not enough to know how to use digital technology and consume content from social networks, you need to be able to approach them critically.
Primarily, I’m interested in exploring how social networks and new media influence and change our daily lives. Currently, I focus on studying the role of social networks in migration processes. Through my research, I want to find out whether social networks help migrants find necessary information, enable them to get in touch with people in similar situations, and allow them to share emotions and experiences and feel supported. Or, on the contrary, are these media a kind of ‘time sink’, producing information noise that escalates stress and confusion?
What intrigued you when you started your academic journey? What were formative encounters or challenges?
This is quite a difficult question, because I cannot remember any specific event or interaction that affected me. It seems that at earlier stages of my scientific activity, my attention was mostly drawn to the complexity of social processes and the variety of approaches to study them. In addition, I was intrigued by how you can leverage the social sciences to examine personal life experiences in the context of larger historical and social events.
How, if at all, has the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine influenced your research questions or approaches?
The Russo-Ukrainian War somewhat changed the research questions I dealt with earlier. Now, I still research communication in virtual space and via social networks, but specifically from the point of view of migrants. Also, like most sociologists in Ukraine, I encounter the problem of conducting field research and getting in touch with respondents in wartime conditions. Currently I’m trying to find the most optimal framework to enable me to continue my research under these new circumstances.
What do you consider to be the role of the humanities and social sciences in times of upheaval, fragmented publics, and authoritarian transgressions?
The modern world is characterized by a large number of problems and challenges, which cannot be overcome without understanding the basic premises of societal development, studying lessons from history, and using research methods to attempt to forecast the future. The humanities and social sciences can give a society the chance to examine itself – reflecting its problems as if in a mirror.
How do you think war affects memory or identity? And how does this connect to your research?
War mobilizes people, increases social solidarity, and makes it clear that the history of a people, and their language, memory, and culture, is worth fighting for. The war forces you to reconsider your attitude towards many things – memory, for instance, often wanders back to the times of ‘before’ and compares them with ‘now’ – and this pushes you to reevaluate your life and disentangle what’s important from what’s not. The issue of identity becomes more acute, whether in its preservation or in the construction of a new one. My research can show the role of social networks in this context, considering specifically people who were forced to migrate. Social networks are filled with memories of the past, constructed by circles of friends and acquaintances, and offer information about what is happening, functioning almost like ‘bridges’ that connect you to your native country, with its sociocultural space and values. But, they can also help establish new social ties and networks of cooperation with other migrants or with representatives of the host society, which is an essential factor for the process of forging new identities.
Citation: “If earlier you had a problem finding relevant information, now it’s a challenge to choose useful and non-misleading material from the huge flow of it” – 5in10 with Taisiia Ratushna, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 12.01.2023, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/44619