The Affect and Social Media (A&SM) interdisciplinary and international conferences at the University of East London bring together media scholars, psychologists, artists, social scientists, computer scientists, and more, to explore the 'affectivities' that flow through social media and other media contexts. The conferences are run in conjunction with the Sensorium art show.

On this page you will find information on previous conferences we have held.

You can also read the A&SM edited book.

For more information  on the conference please email the organiser and host Dr Tony Sampson at

Affect and Social Media international research seminar, February 2015


Affect and Social Media international research seminar, including book launch for Ellis and Tucker's Social Psychology of Emotion published by Sage in March 2015. This version includes links to all presentations Hosted by the EmotionUX lab in the School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London. Friday 27th Feb, 2015 at UEL's Docklands Campus.


Introduction Tony D. Sampson

Session 1 

Sara Marino (University of Westminster): Performances, belongings, and displacements. How Italians use new media to narrate their diasporic experience.  Sara Marino

Evgenia Theodotou (AMC, Greece): Social network in higher education: a case study investigating creativity in the Greek context. ETheodotou

Darren Ellis (University of East London): Social Media, Affect and Process Social media affect and process Ellis 

Jacob Johanssen (University of East London): Alienation and Affect on Facebook Link to paper:

Session 2 

Greg Singh (University of Stirling): Social Media as a False-Self System Social Media as a False-Self System – Singh –

Tamara Shepherd (London School of Economics) Mobility, Sociality, and Affect: The Commodification of Intimacy through Branded Mobile Apps Shepherd

Ian Tucker (University of East London): Digitally mediated distress: Bodies, affect and digital care. Social Media and Affect – Tucker

Session 3 

John Carter McKnight  (Lancaster University): "Sensible" Borrowers: Class Narratives and the Manipulation of Affect in the Marketing of Alternative Finance Mcknight_

Anne Vermeulen (University of Antwerp)Feeling happy: adolescents' emotion sharing on social media Anne Vermeulen Closing discussion chaired by Tony D. Sampson

Book Launch and Social Event 

To celebrate the imminent (Sage, March 2015) publication of Social Psychology of Emotion by Darren Ellis and Ian Tucker – we will have some chat, drinks and nibbles.

Presenter Bios

Sara Marino, University of Westminster Dr. Sara Marino is Research Fellow at CREAM-Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster. Her main research interests include the digitalization of contemporary Italian Diaspora in UK, and more generally the impact of digital media (online communities, social networks, discussion forums and blogs) in the processes of integration/communication between migrant communities and receiving countries. She also writes on transnational cinema and diasporic audiences, with a specific focus on von Trier's cinema and the representation of Otherness.

Anne Vermeulen, University of Antwerp Anne Vermeulen is master in Social-Economic Sciences (University of Antwerp, 2010) and master in Communication Studies: Strategic Communication (University of Antwerp, 2011). Since October 2011, she works as a PhD student and research and teaching assistant at the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Antwerp. She is a member of the research group MIOS. Anne's main field of interest concerns the link between youngsters and ICT. For her PhD, she studies how youngsters share their (positive and negative) emotions with others; when and how do they use different communication modes (face-to-face and specific types of mediated communication) to share their emotions with strangers, friends and family?

Tamara Shepherd, London School of Economics and Political Science Tamara Shepherd is an LSE Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work looks at the feminist political economy of digital culture, especially in relation to social media, mobile technologies, and digital games. For more, please see

John Carter McKnight, Lancaster University John Carter McKnight is a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociology Lancaster University. His work, funded under a grant from the Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme, examines how peer to peer digital lending and payment services present themselves as alternatives to mainstream banking practices through infrastructure, user experience, and marketing design, with a particular focus on the role of affective design and marketing in speaking to regional and class issues in promoting alternatives to high street banking.

Jacob Johanssen, University of East London Jacob Johanssen is a third year PhD student in psychosocial studies at the UEL. His research interests include psychoanalysis and media audience research, Freudian affect theory, as well as critical theory. Publications include the anthology 'Cyborg Subjects: Discourses on Digital Culture' (edited with Rambatan, 2013) and 'Alienation and Digital Labour' (with Krüger, 2014). His PhD thesis explores a psychoanalytic conception of the subject that is both theoretical and epistemological. The research involves interviews with viewers of 'Embarrassing Bodies' and explores their viewing practices and affective responses to the programme.

Greg Singh, University of Stirling Dr Greg Singh is Lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Stirling, and is Programme Director of the Digital Media undergraduate programme. He has published widely on a number of subjects ranging from popular cinema, film theory and film-philosophy, and depth psychology, to representations of technology in television drama. He has published two monographs for Routledge (Film After Jung, 2009; Feeling Film: Authenticity, Affect and Popular Cinema, 2014). He is currently working on a book-length study for Routledge discussing psychosocial aspects of digital literacy and Web 2.0.

Ian Tucker, UEL Dr. Ian Tucker is Reader in Social Psychology at the University of East London. He has a long standing interest in the social psychological aspects of emotion and affect, which has theoretically informed empirical work in the areas of mental distress, social media and surveillance. He has conducted research for the Mental Health Foundation and EPSRC Communities and Culture Network+, and is currently working on a project exploring the impact of social media on psychological support in mental health communities. Ian has published numerous articles in the areas of mental health, space and place, embodiment, surveillance and social media.

Evgenia Theodotou, AMC in collaboration with University of East London Evgenia Theodotou is Programme Leader in Education Department in Metropolitan College (AMC), which in collaboration with University of East London offers Bachelors and Masters Degrees. She is a PhD candidate in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in School of Early Childhood Education in the research area of "Literacy skills in the early years settings". Her research activity involves technology enhanced learning, creativity, arts and literacy skills. She has participated in several research projects and published her research in international conferences, journals, edited books and monographs. She is the author of "When I play I learn… and I better understand" from Delta publications and of "Creativity in the contemporary era of ICT" from Kritiki publications. She is also the author of a series of children's books which will be shortly available to public. She has a permanent column at "Anna Drouza" under the action of "The academic answers your queries".

Darren Ellis, UEL Darren Ellis is Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London. Darren has been interested in the ways that emotion, affect and feeling are experienced, expressed and constructed. These interests have influenced his writings on psychotherapy, the emotional disclosure paradigm, theorising police stop and search activity, surveillance studies, conspiracy theory studies, and understandings of social media interactivity. His forthcoming book (March 2015) is entitled 'Social Psychology of Emotion'


Academics examine ideas around selfies, feminist activism, biofeedback and more, March 2016


Leading thinkers in the burgeoning arena of social media and emotion converged at the University of East London (UEL) this week for the second annual Affect and Social Media conference. 

From machinic intimacy to anxiety disorders among beauty vloggers, the event explored the many ways our feelings become manifest on social media. 

"The symposium brought together a cast of international scholars from cultural studies, psychology, sociology and arts practice to help us better understand the role emotions, feelings and affect play in our everyday interactions with social media," said UEL's Dr Tony David Sampson, who organised the conference.

"It opened up a stimulating debate concerning fascinating alternatives to the study of digital culture wherein emotions, feelings and affect are taken seriously rather than merely being regarded as at the margins of academic work."

Conference participants discussed research and new ideas through the lenses of digital emotion, individuation, experience, emoticons, new materialisms, selfies, biofeedback, feminist activism, media panic, anxiety, therapy, learning, and affective circuits, geographies, new connectivities and contagions.

Dr Alyssa Niccolini, of Columbia University in New York, gave a talk on biofeedback and affective pedagogies related to Spire – an activity tracker similar to the ubiquitous Fitbit. The main purpose of Spire, however, is to reduce users' tension and stress. 

Spire, which has attracted a number of devoted online testimonials, produces a vibration when a wearer becomes tense. The quiver acts as a reminder for the user to take measures to calm down.

Spire's other functions include daily reports and encouragement. Many people see the device as a sort of virtual therapist, Dr Niccolini said.

Dr Niccolini said she was interested in further exploring the "machinic intimacy" offered by Spire. 

"Spire touches you and you touch Spire," she noted. 

Jessica Ringrose, of the University College London Institute of Education, discussed teenaged feminist activism on Twitter. 

Dr Ringrose said her research had shown that Twitter is an essential tool for young girls who want to share and document the policing of their clothing at school. Girls also often begin to think through and respond to the concept of rape culture through their engagement with social media, she said.

Sophie Helen Bishop, a PhD candidate at the University of East London, talked about the prevalence of self-diagnosed anxiety disorders among the UK's most popular beauty and lifestyle vloggers, including Zoella and Tanya Burr. Ms Bishop wondered why this particular phenomenon remained overwhelmingly female, but noted the benefit of increasing awareness of the disorders among young women.

Dr Anne Vermeulen, of the University of Antwerp, was unable to attend the conference as planned due to the recent terrorist attacks but gave a presentation on Skype. Her talk was on the sharing of happiness, sadness, pride and shame on social media platforms.

Dr Vermeulen said that, despite 24-hour online access to friends and peers, teenagers still usually turned to their parents when they needed emotional support.

"Emotions are still most often shared face-to-face," she said.

An edited collection from the two Affect and Social Media conferences is currently underway. 


Leading academics to explore cyberbullying, memes, Brexit and more, April 2017


Memes as political mind bombs, the affective impact of Brexit on journalists and Donald Trump's tweets are just a few of the topics set to be explored on 25 May when leading thinkers converge on the University of East London (UEL) for the third annual Affect and Social Media conference.

This year's event focuses on social and digital media through the lens of felt experiences, emotional engagements and affective entanglements. 

UEL's Dr Tony Sampson, conference organiser, said, "Interest in emotions, feelings and affective experiences with social media has grown considerably since we started the Affect and Social Media conferences in 2015. 

"Recently, we've had to contend with a deluge of posts about Brexit, Trump, post-truth and fake news, and some of our speakers will talk about experiences linked to these political events."

The conference's keynote speakers are Professor Jessica Ringrose, of University College London, and Professor Emma Renold, of Cardiff University. Their talks will examine feminist and pedagogical understandings of affectivity and power on social media.

Other highlights include:

● Affective Politics and Strategic Cyberbullying in Donald Trump's Tweets, Professor Jonas Fritsch, University of Copenhagen, and Professor Camilla Møhring Reestorff and Professor Jette Kofoed, University of Aarhus

● Refugee Memes: Affective Entanglements of Populist Engagement in Visual Social Media, Professor Elena Pilipets, Alpen-Adria University, Austria

● 'No More Shit! Gays Fight Back': Affective responses to mediated representations of the Orlando Nightclub Shooting, Kate Marston, Cardiff University

● Assessing the Affective Impact of the Brexit Campaign on the journalists who covered it, Professor Stephen Jukes, University of Bournemouth

The conference concludes with the Sensorium Art Show – an exhibition which responds creatively to the conference themes of experience, engagement and entanglement.

UEL students and staff can attend the conference at no cost. Tickets are £3 for non-UEL students and £5 for people working outside UEL. Price includes entry to the conference and art show with free drinks and nibbles.


Affect and Social Media 3.0: Experience, Entanglement, Engagement, May 2017


Keynotes: Jessica Ringrose (UCL) and Emma Renold (Cardiff)

The Event

In its third year now, the A&SM one day conference at UEL Docklands continues to get to grips with social media cultures.

In the first two events (captured in a forthcoming edited collection**) the call focused mainly on the manipulation of feelings, emotions and affect by social media marketing, but now, following recent events like Brexit and Trump, it is imperative to broaden the discussion to include the felt experiences, affective entanglements and emotional engagements of these unnerving times.

The 2017 conference brings together an intriguing international programme discussing:

 - The affective politics of social media entanglements with e.g. Brexit, post-truth and strategic cyberbullying.
 - Refugee and "Punch a Nazi" memes, Iranian sanctions and Trump's tweets.
 - Public affects and emotional consumption on Ebay, Twitter and Vine.
 - Experiencing digital affect as grasped through the ideas of Simondon, Deleuze and Lévinas.
 - The intersections between digital, art and affect
 - Affective pedagogies and postfeminist resistances to social media events and affective overspills following the Orlando shooting and Trump's election victory

Through our keynote speakers we also ask what can be learnt from these recent events and how we can effectively communicate to others whose lives are profoundly affected by (and made vulnerable to) the current acceleration of socially mediated molecular fascism.

The 2017 Sensorium includes artworks tackling digital memory, social media addiction, emotional recognition, inspirational memes quotes and a collaborative "zine" response to Trump.


Notifications from the Technological Non-conscious, November 2018


From Russian hackers and fake 'bot' accounts, to the tweets of President Trump, the effect that social media is having on society is never far from the news agenda. A calm and considered debate is needed now more than ever.  

The University of East London is proud to present its fourth Affect & Social Media Conference.

The conference organiser is Reader in Digital Media Cultures and Communications Dr Tony D Sampson. He said, 

"Social media has proved to be a challenging force in the world, but these platforms are neither good nor bad per se.  They have not developed in isolation of politics, economics, business agendas, and cultural life. If we see good or bad things then it is associated in some way to a particular context. This conference explores social media in the context of the emotional and felt experiences people have with these technologies."

The Conference starts at 11am, with welcome talks, followed by panel presentations, discussions, Sensorium performances, a keynote session and after-conference book launch.

A special keynote talk will be given by Patricia Ticineto Clough – author of The User Unconscious: Embodiment and Thought.  A response will be given by Gregory J. Seigworth Professor of Communication Studies at Millersville University.

This will be followed by a keynote panel discussion featuring …

Amit Rai (Queen Mary), the author of Rule of Sympathy: Race, Sentiment, and Power (Palgrave: 2002). 

Jessica Ringrose (UCL), Professor of Sociology of Gender and Education, at the UCL Institute of Education and co-Chair of the Gender and Education Association. 

Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths), Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and Co-Director of the Methods Lab. 

Ian Tucker (UEL) Reader in Psychology research focuses on the social psychological elements of social media, community mental health, emotion and surveillance. His book 'The Social Psychology of Emotion' was recently published for Sage (with Darren Ellis UEL).

Darren Ellis (UEL) is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader of Psychosocial Theory and Practice at the University of East London.

The conference will be followed by the launch of Affect and Social Media: Emotion, Mediation, Anxiety and Contagion, a new book edited by Tony Sampson, Stephen Maddison and Darren Ellis.

Also, one of the editors Tony Sampson explains what inspired it:

"We ran three very successful A&SM; conferences at UEL, starting in 2015, and built up a substantial international network of researchers working in affect studies and related areas. I had thought about developing a special issue journal, but it was Stephen's idea that we should bring it all together as an edited book."

Conference explores issues ranging from hackers to bots, November 2018


The conference, held at UEL's University Square Stratford building, was organised by Dr Tony D Sampson, Reader in Digital Media Cultures and Communications.

Dr Sampson said, "Social media has proved to be a challenging force in the world, but these platforms are neither good nor bad, per se. They have not developed in isolation of politics, economics, business agendas, and cultural life. If we see good or bad things then it is associated in some way to a particular context. This conference explores social media in the context of the emotional and felt experiences people have with these technologies."

The conference included lectures, panel presentations, discussions, a performance by the music and art outfit Sensorium, and an after-conference book launch of Affect and Social Media: Emotion, Mediation, Anxiety and Contagion, edited by Dr Sampson, Dr Stephen Maddison and Dr Darren Ellis.

Dr Sampson said: "I'm very pleased to say that our Affect and Social Media conference and art show have once again attracted a very large international and interdisciplinary audience. This is confirmation that these events and publications are having a fantastic global impact." 

"The international network we've developed around Affect and Social Media is expanding each year. This is great for UEL and its international research profile. I'm looking forward to working with colleagues in psychology, the arts, social sciences, computing and digital industries on planning future events."

Media Virality and the Lockdown Aesthetic, July 2020


You can find a full write up of the event - the first A&SM event to take place in the post-pandemic world - by visiting Tony Sampson's blog.