Sarah Bickerton

How do women Twitter users in New Zealand construct political participation?

Sarah Bickerton, PhD student
Sarah Bickerton, PhD student


Supervisors: Associate Professor Karl Lofgren and Dr Kathleen Kuehn (School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies)


Sarah's background is as a sociologist (although her first degree was in Physics), with particular foci on online interaction and on gender, having previously done undergraduate and graduate study at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Canterbury. She has lectured courses on the Sociology of Gender, Social Problems, and Sociological Theory from 100 to 400 level, worked as a research assistant, a graduate assistant/tutor, and also worked in financial legislative compliance and business-analysis outside academia. 


Graduate Concentration in Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
BA (First Class Honours) in Sociology, MA (Distinction) in Sociology University of Canterbury
BSc in Physics, University of Canterbury

Research interests

Sarah's research interests involve the social uses of technology and their implications/embeddedness within wider social structures, with her Master's thesis having looked at how online community was constructed in an email mailing list through the discursive development of primary relationships without face-to-face interaction.

She is currently interested in how people's common unconscious social understandings underpin how they conceptualise systems of politics, policy, etc., and then drive enactment, with her PhD examining how New Zealand women that use Twitter construct political participation. This research has policy implications not just for how political parties, organisations, and government use online interactive resources for political participation and involvement, but also for our understandings of how political participation might be being understood more generally in New Zealand.