Photo of Michael Christensen

Michael Christensen

Associate Professor

Degrees:Ph.D. (York University), M.A. (Minnesota State University, Mankato), B.A. (St. Cloud State University)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 3608
Office:C476 Loeb Building

Michael Christensen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University. His research explores questions about how cultures of democracy are shaped by technology, expert knowledge, and digital media. His current research projects include a SSHRC-funded study of vaccine misinformation shared on social media, as well as a separate project examining how global anti-disinformation NGOs are reimagining the field of international democracy promotion, and another exploring the mobilization of rights discourses in COVID-related conspiracy theories.

Research Interests and Supervision Areas

I have supervised graduate and undergraduate students working on a wide variety of topics so, while the following areas are most interesting to me, I am happy to work with students on other related topics.

  • Democracy and digital culture
  • Practice theory approaches to international/global political sociology
  • Critical studies of international organizations
  • Health communication and social media
  • Privacy, data justice and social inequality
  • Science, technology and expert knowledge
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Computational social science and digital research methods
  • History of human rights and western humanitarianism
  • History of the social sciences

Current Grants

I am currently the primary investigator on a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2021-2023) designed to identify a cultural typology of vaccine misinformation. For this project, our team is combining a qualitative research approach to interpreting the underlying cultural meaning of social media posts (on Twitter) with computational topic modeling. Our research finds patterns of meaning related to health, religion, politics and other cultural issues in posts containing misinformation about vaccines.

Journal Articles

Zarei, Mohammad Reza, Michael Christensen, Sarah Everts, Majid Komeili (2023) Vax-Culture: A Dataset for Studying Vaccine Discourse on Twitter. International Joint Conference on Neural Networks 2023. link

Christensen, Michael & Ashli Au (2023) The Great Reset and the Cultural Boundaries of Conspiracy Theory. International Journal of Communication. 17: 2348-2366. link

Christensen, Michael (2022) Disinformation and the Return of Mass Society Theory. Canadian Journal of Communication. 47(4). link

Holthaus, Leonie & Michael Christensen (2022) The production of North American and German democracy promotion expertise: A practice theoretical analysis. International Studies Perspectives. Published Online 14 February 2022.

Christensen, Michael (2022) Democracy Promotion, Post-Truth Politics and the Cultural Practices of Political Expertise. Cambridge Review of International Affairs. 35(1): 91-109 [first published online 2020].

Christensen, Michael & Leonie Holthaus (2021) Disinformation and the Problem of Credibility in Democracy Promotion. Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. 35.

Christensen, Michael (2017) “Interpreting the Organizational Practices of North American Democracy Assistance” International Political Sociology, 11(2): 148-165.

Christensen, Michael (2015) “Re-establishing ‘the social’ in research on democratic processes: Mid-century voter studies and Paul F. Lazarsfeld’s alternative vision,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 51(3): 308-332

Christensen, Michael (2013) “The Social Facts of Democracy: Science meets politics with Mosca, Pareto, Michels & Schumpeter,” Journal of Classical Sociology, 13(4): 460-486

Book Chapters

Christensen, M (2017) “A Critical Sociology of International Expertise: The Case of International Democracy Assistance,” in Kurasawa (ed.) Interrogating the Social – A Critical Sociology for the 21st Century. Palgrave Macmillan.

Review Articles

Christensen, Michael (2021) Review of Democratic Practice: Origins of the Iberian Divide in Political Inclusion by Robert M. Fishman. Social Forces, 100(2): e15.

Christensen, Michael (2019) Review of Ajana’s Metric Culture: Ontologies of Self-Tracking Devices. Surveillance and Society, 17 (3): 580-581.