Mélanie Millette

2011 to 2013
Current affiliation:
2011 Scholar, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département de communication sociale et publique

Mélanie is analyzing how social media can provide visibility and legitimacy to minority or marginalized groups.

Minority Language, Social Media & The Struggle for Visibility: The Case of Francophone Organizations in English-Speaking Canada.

Visibility is an essential condition for making claims in the political arena, and the growing presence of the media is influencing modes of visibility and ways to be seen and recognized in society. Every media has its own suitability categories that help determine what will or will not appear in the media space (Voirol 2005). The media sort and select information based on form (paper, video or audio) and economic and institutional factors. The situation of people who are excluded from these suitability categories is a problem because today media visibility has become one of the main channels through which social and political battles are articulated and fought (Thompson 2005: 86). In the current context, what means of media visibility do the participatory platforms of Web 2.0 give to the voices of citizens battling to be heard? 

This project will observe and analyse media visibility options offered by online participation channels such as Facebook and Twitter for francophones living outside Quebec. It will examine the ways that these francophones users mobilize new web platforms to make themselves heard and how this visibility helps legitimize their claims.

Mélanie Millette, PhD, is a professor in the department of social and public communication at UQAM, as well as a member of the Laboratoire de communication médiatisée par ordinateur(LabCMO, UQAM and Université Laval) and TheFourchettesCritical Methods in Technoculture collective.

Mélanie's research deals with the political and cultural uses of social media and specifically the issues of visibility and public participation among members of minority and marginalized groups. The Internet is a breeding ground for power relationships and its infrastructure, like its content, presents numerous ethical, economic and social challenges. Nevertheless, social media can potentially be leveraged to improve representation of different social voices and communicate alternative viewpoints. The issue that interests Mélanie is to understand how, under what conditions and for which social stakeholders this holds true.

Mélanie is currently exploring three lines of research. First, she is examining online visibility and invisibility among minorities and marginalized individuals in order to understand the causality that can lead to the power to act. She is also interested in online political participation, particularly among young people, and the role of routine media use in people's civic engagement. Third, she is reflecting on the ethical issues surrounding digital methodology, methods and data in the context of feminist and intersectional approaches. Anxious to bring social relevance to her scientific work and better understand the Internet, Mélanie offers regular workshops and ties her research to numerous media events, thus contributing to social media education and scientific popularization of the digital phenomenon.

Mélanie Millette has won the Bell-Globemedia award from the Canadian Media Research Consortium for her master's work, a doctoral scholarship from the Fondsderecherchesurlasociétéetlaculture (FQRSC), and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities ResearchCouncil of Canada (SSHRC). She was named a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholar in 2011, enabling her to complete her thesis entitled "Minority Language, Social Media & the Struggle for Visibility: The Case of Francophone Organizations in English-Speaking Canada" (UQAM, 2015).