Elena Waldispuehl

Study program:
Political Science
Current affiliation:
Université de Montréal

Elena Waldispuehl (Political Science, Université de Montréal) is interested in how the use of social media is redefining collective action and the effects of cyberviolence on activists’ paths of engagement along the online / offline continuum.

Doctoral research


The cyberization of society has significantly altered communicative, political, economic, cultural and social structures, while Web 2.0 is disrupting the scope and nature of social interactions and the social uses of cyberspace.

Online exposure of any kind entails risks and social costs given the codes of practice and specific characteristics of the cybersocialization space. The digital landscape is also a particularly violent environment for some types of social actors: Web 2.0 constitutes a manosphere that is decidedly antagonistic to feminist discourses. This study investigates online violence against feminist activists through an intersectional analysis of cyberviolence. It pursues two main objectives: (1) To map cyberviolence against feminist activists in order to characterize it in comparison with other forms of online violence and with offline violence against feminists; (2) To measure the consequences of such violent events for individuals’ paths through online and offline activism. To improve our understanding of cyberviolence and its impact on online and offline engagement, this study will carry out a comparative analysis of oppositional spaces in Quebec and France. It aims to understand how the use of social media is redefining collective action and to probe the effects of digital on activists’ paths and personal progression through the online / offline political socialization process.

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.