Laura Robinson
ContactDigital Inequalities & Youth BrazilDigital Sociology & Qualitative MethodsPublications

Brazilian Studies 

Cultural Repertoires and Discourses in Brazilian, French, and American Digital Discourse Fora
I studied digital discourse communities hosted by flagship newspapers in Brazil, France, and the U.S.: O Estado de São Paulo, Le Monde, and The New York Times. Funded by a Mellon Grant in Latin American Studies and a Bourse d’Accueil from the l’École Normale Supérieure, my project analyzes spheres of moral concern and inclusionary identity work across the three cases. I use a rigorous multi-method approach (ethnography, content analysis, and interviewing) to show how social actors include and exclude others as worthy or unworthy of moral concern and solidarity. The study garnered four awards including Best Dissertation in 2007 and a 2011 Top Four Faculty Paper from the NCA IICD. An article published in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication was chosen as Best Graduate Student Paper by the ASA Computer and Information Technology Section and also for the Student Paper Award by the Association of Internet Researchers. 

​Inclusão Digital: Lessons from Brazil
I am currently bringing my work on digital inequality into dialogue with my work on Brazil through an comparative study of digital inequality in Brazil and the United States. I am mapping out a project examining income differentials, economic mobility, and digital inclusion policies. My efforts target the implementation of digital inclusion policies in schools and public access points in Salvador da Bahia. Salvador is the ideal fieldsite in the Nordeste as this geographic region continues to experience endemic and extreme economic disparities. Both projects interrogate linkages between digital inclusion policies and the recent surge in social mobility in Brazil. The project compares data from economically disadvantaged schools and neighborhoods to examine the effects of telecentros and public internet access points or LAN houses on economic mobility. This kind of natural experiment sheds light on the potential of digital inclusion policies to improve class mobility and alleviate economic hardship. 


Robinson, Laura Series Editor. Guest Editors: Joseph Straubhaar, Monica Martinez, Sonia Virgínia Moreira, Heloisa Pait, Johnn Baldwin, Samantha Joyce, and Pedro Aguiar. Forthcoming 2017. Brazil: Media from the Country of the Future. In Emerald Studies in Media and Communications: Communication and Information Technologies Annual.  

Robinson, Laura Series Editor. Guest Editors: Hopeton Dunn and Alejandro Artopoulos. Forthcoming 2016. ICTs and the Politics of Inclusion in the Caribbean and Latin America. In Emerald Studies in Media and Communications: Communication and Information Technologies Annual.  


Robinson, Laura. 2016. "Collective Memory: September 11th Now and Then." Information, Communication, and Society. 

   2011 Top Four Faculty Paper, NCA International and Intercultural Communication Division 

Robinson, Laura. 2016. “Arielism, Cosmopolitanism, and Americanophilia as Identity Work: Exploring Brazilian Reaction to 9/11/01.” In Colóquio Brasil-Estados Unidos de Estudos da Comunicação. Sonia Virgínia Moreira and Daniela Ota. Editors. Intercom Books and Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul. 

Robinson, Laura. 2015. “Boundary Drawing and the Suffering of Others.” In World Suffering. Ron Anderson. Editor. Springer Press.

Robinson, Laura. 2009. “Cultural Tropes and Discourse: Brazilians, French, and Americans Debate September 11, 2001.” The International Journal of Communication. 

Robinson, Laura. 2008. “The Moral Accounting of Terrorism: Competing Interpretations of September 11, 2001.” Qualitative Sociology.

Robinson, Laura. 2005. “Debating the Events of September 11th: Discursive and Interactional Dynamics in Three Online Fora.” The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 

     2005 Best Graduate Student Paper, ASA: Communication and Information Technologies Section (CITASA)
     2005 Student Paper Award, Association of Internet Researchers


Sansone, Myles, Mary Catharine Duane, Natalie Lays (student-researcher authors), and Laura Robinson (faculty adviser). 2013. “Tuning in to Solar Ear Brazil: Measuring the Social Benefit of Applied Social Science for the Public Good.” (40 pages) Report on Fieldwork in Brazil written for the Global Social Benefit Fellows Program at Santa Clara University.

I served as the faculty research mentor for the Global Social Benefit Fellowship Team Solar Ear Brazil. Solar Ear is making large advances in bringing its hearing aid technology into lower socioeconomic sectors of a variety of countries by providing low-cost solar-powered hearing aids. Previous measurement tools have been largely concerned with measuring health outcomes. Previous studies failed to document the social benefit provided by hearing aids. Therefore, our team’s goal was to help Solar Ear Brazil enhance its social impact and better serve hearing impaired individuals by establishing reliable measures of social benefit. I served as faculty advisor to a team of undergraduates who tackled this challenge. To do so, I introduced them to Brazilian culture and society in preparation for their fieldwork. I guided them in developing a monitoring and evaluation instrument based on in-depth fieldwork in Brazil. We documented the impact of this innovative technology on the social well-being of the hearing impaired. Our report is the first that assesses the social benefits of frugal health technology and specifically this solar powered hearing aid according to Solar Ear’s director who wrote: “The Santa Clara supported research was ground-breaking and will enable Solar Ear, and other hearing aid providers, to measure the health, socio-economic and educational impact of a hearing aid in the developing world.” 


Member: Latin American Studies Program Advisory Board 
Santa Clara University 2015-present

Faculty Researcher for the Global Social Benefit Fellows Program: Solar Ear Brazil
Santa Clara University 2013-2014


U.S. Coordinator: Brazil-U.S. Colloquium on Communication Research
Colloquium IX in the United States, 2020
Colloquium VIII in Brazil, 2018 

Latin American Organizer Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide International Conference
Conference II in Phoenix, 2015 “Latin American Perspectives: What We Can Learn”
Conference I in Seattle, 2014 “From Inequality to Inclusion: Inclusión/Inclusão Digital in Latin America”


Co-Organizer and Respondent: International Communication Association Conference. San Juan, 2015
“Context Matters: Comparing Communication and Media Practices in Brazil and the U.S.” 

Chair: International Sociological Association Forum. Buenos Aires, 2012
“Democratizing futures and digital inclusion: Participatory opportunities and pitfalls”
“Round table 1D: Technology/Media/Futures”
“Round table 2D: Technology/Media/Futures”