Elena Waldispuehl

Study program:
Political Science
Current affiliation:
Université de Montréal

Elena Waldispuehl (political science, Université de Montréal) is exploring how social media is redefining collective action and how the digital world has affected activists’ personal engagement, online and off-line.

Doctoral research

The political socialization process and social movements post-2008: (Re)defining collective action and activism offline and online

The economic crisis in 2008 led to the emergence and development of several social movements demanding greater social justice and citizen empowerment. Post-2008, social movements’ use of the internet for protest purposes has added aspects of co-production and co-distribution to collective action (Bennett and Segerberg 2012).  This is making protest more and more personalized in the highly individualized world of cyberspace. Because of this, social media has fostered the development of a protester brand image, which drives enthusiasm and makes it easier to mobilize (Gerbaudo 2016). But the digitization of collective action has perverse effects as well.

Elena Waldispuehl’s research will, in part, seek to understand how social media is redefining collective action. It will also examine how the digital world has affected activists’ trajectories and their personal engagement through the political socialization process, online and offline.

A doctoral scholar in the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program, and a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholar, Elena Waldispuehl is studying the political sociology of social movements and collective action for her PhD in political science at the Université de Montréal. 

Elena’s background attests to academic and athletic excellence as well as to social engagement through leadership, versatility, and perseverance. Her many awards reveal her capacity to reconcile elite sports and academic studies. She was a student athlete in the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or program for five years, as senior goalkeeper and captain of the soccer team. Her leadership and team spirit contributed significantly to the team’s success when they took part in the Canadian championships for the first time in 25 years.

Elena has earned many prizes and distinctions. In addition to her Vanier doctoral scholarship, she was an awardee of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture for her master’s studies. She was a finalist in the 2015 Forces Avenir competition and earned the 2012 student-athlete of the year award from the Fondation de l’athlète d’excellence du Québec.

An action-research project in Mali in 2012 heightened Elena’s social awareness, encouraging her to integrate social involvement into her academic journey. Since then, her goal has been to make a real difference in society today and tomorrow. She is the co-author of a book currently in press about the impact of cyberspace on social science research methods and the emergence of “new” fields.

In her free time, Elena is an activist for several organizations that work for students’ rights and gender equality. She serves on several feminist committees and draws on her critical theoretical knowledge and her know-how to help counter sexual violence in post-secondary institutions.