Building:Richcraft Hall, Room 4316
Department:School of Journalism and Communication


Rena Bivens is Associate Professor of Communication. Trained as a sociologist at The University of Western Ontario, Rena moved to Scotland to pursue her PhD with the Glasgow Media Group at the University of Glasgow in the Department of Sociology. Before returning to Canada she spent two years as a Lecturer in Digital Media and Mass Communication at The University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo, China. After six years abroad, Rena moved to Ottawa and accepted a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton University. Rena then became a Banting Fellow in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton.

Research Interests

Rena’s research interrogates normative design practices that become embedded within media technologies, including social media software, mobile phone apps, and technologies associated with television news production. Identity is also central to her work, including gender, sexuality, and race as they emerge in both human and non-human contexts. She investigates design and use alongside technical components such as code, software processes, applications, databases, and servers. Science and technology studies, software studies, feminist and queer theory, trans* studies, critical race theory, decolonial theory, speculative design, and science fiction inform this work.



Bivens, R. (2014) Digital Currents: How Technology and the Public Are Shaping TV News, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (ISBN: 9781442615861)

Journal Articles

Hasinoff, A. and Bivens, R. (2021) Feature Analysis: A Method for Analyzing the Role of Ideology in App Design. Journal of Digital Social Research, 3(2): 89-113. doi: 10.33621/jdsr.v3i2.56.

Bannerman, S., Baade, C., Bivens, R., Regan Shade, L., Shepherd, T., Zeffiro, A. (2020) Platforms and Power: A Panel Discussion. Canadian Journal of Communication, 45(3) doi: 10.22230/cjc.2020v45n3a3901.

Pasek, A., Bivens, R. and Hogan, M. (2019) Data Segregation and Algorithmic Amplification: A Conversation with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. Canadian Journal of Communication, 44(3): 455-469.

Bivens, R. and Khan, U. (2019) Torn: A Social Media Drama over the Aziz Ansari Scandal. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No. 15. video available here

Bivens, R. and Hoque, A. S. (2018) Programming Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: Infrastructural Failures in ‘Feminist’ Dating App Bumble. Canadian Journal of Communication, 43(3): 441-459.

Bivens, R. (2018) Exploiting a Dystopic Future to Unsettle our Present-Day Thinking about Sexual Violence Prevention. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No. 13. doi: 10.5399/uo/ada.2018.13.5

Bivens, R. (2018) Coding Sexual Violence, or Realizing your ‘Survivor’ Identity is Part of the Problem. No More Potlucks, 49.

Bivens, R. and Hasinoff, A. A. (2017) “Rape: is there an app for that? An empirical analysis of the features of anti-rape appsInformation, Communication & Society. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2017.1309444

Bivens, R. and Haimson, O. L. (2016) “Baking gender into social media design: How platforms shape categories for users and advertisersSocial Media + Society. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/2056305116672486

Bivens, R. (2015) “The gender binary will not be deprogrammed: Ten years of coding gender on FacebookNew Media & Society. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1461444815621527

Bivens, R. (2015) “Under the Hood: The Software in your Feminist Approach” Feminist Media Studies. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2015.1053717

Bivens, R. (2015) “Affording Immediacy in Television News Production: Comparing Adoption Trajectories of Social Media and Satellite Technologies” International Journal of Communication 9: 191-209.

Bivens, R. (2008) “The Internet, Mobile Phones and Blogging: How New Media is Transforming Traditional Journalism” Journalism Practice 2(1): 113-129. doi: 10.1080/17512780701768568

*reprinted in: Benyahia, S. C., Gardner A., Rayner, P. and Wall, P. (2014) Media Studies: The Essential Resource, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge.

Book Chapters

Bivens, R. (2019) Programming the Rules of Engagement: Social Media Design and the Nonprofit System, in M. X. Delli Carpini (ed.) Digital Media and Democratic Futures, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bivens, R. and Fairbairn, J. (2015) “Quit Facebook, Don’t Sext and Other Futile Attempts to Protect Youth” in S. Tarrant (ed.) Gender, Sex, and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century, New York: Routledge.

Bivens, R. and Li, C. (2009) “Web-Oriented Public Participation in Contemporary China” in G. Monaghan and S. Tunney (eds.) Web Journalism: A New Form of Citizenship?, Brighton: Sussex Academic Press.

Refereed Conference Proceedings

Handel, M. J., Bivens, R., Brubaker, J. R., Haimson, O. L., Lingel, J., & Yarosh, S. (2015) “Facebooking in ‘Face’: Complex Identities Meet Simple Databases”, in Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference Companion on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 122–125). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/2685553.2699337

Encyclopedia Articles

Bivens, R. (2014) “Morozov Principle” in K. Harvey (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Bivens, R. (2014) “Shirky Principle” in K. Harvey (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. 


Obar, J. A., Taylor, G., Antoine, D., Bivens, R., Caidi, N., Johnson, A., Middleton, C., and Skinner, D. (2014) “Mapping Digital Media: Canada”, New York: Open Society Foundations.

Fairbairn, J., Bivens, R., and Dawson, M. (2013) “Sexual Violence and Social Media: Building a Framework for Prevention”, Ottawa: Crime Prevention Ottawa/Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women.

Blog Posts

Bivens, R. (2016) “Programming Violence: Under a Progressive Surface, Facebook’s Software Misgenders Users”, Cyborgology, 27 January.

*cross-posted on Culture Digitally, 27 January 2016.

Bivens, R. (2015) “Interrogating Crystal’s Design Flaws Highlights Options for Technical Advocacy”, Culture Digitally, June 9.