Research Aims and Objectives

Research Aims and Objectives

The aim of AGENCY is to establish the required interdisciplinary scientific methods, technology and collaborative societal approaches to provide online agency to people in a world with complex online harms and demonstrate that this leads to a reduction in complex online harm or in fear of such harm. 

Hypothesis: agency is critical to reducing complex online harms.

The project’s goal is to test this hypothesis and to understand the role of agency in reducing online harm. Through this research we aim to gain insight into how agency relates to autonomy and other individual and societal needs to tackle the wicked problem of complex online harm.

Research Objective 1: We want to gain a deep understanding of the cross-disciplinary notions of agency and complex harms and how online digital agency impacts harm or fear of harm. 

AGENCY’s collaborative strategy to address the wicked problem of online harms has three main pillars that aim at improving agency and, through this, impact society positively. These are represented as Research Objectives 2-4.

Research Objective 2: Agency through Citizen-Centred Design. We develop citizen-oriented design principles and practices for developing usable harm-reducing and privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), based on a comprehensive understanding of how both users from all demographics and designers perceive online interactions and respond to and enhance agency. 

Research Objective 3: Internet-Integrated Agency Platform. We establish an agency platform with the key Internet technologies to improve agency, in particular: decentralisation; transparency; and citizen feedback (warnings). 

Research Objective 4: Embedding AGENCY in Law, Policy and Ethics. We establish methods, practices and approaches that balance the empowerment of users with other goals (such as public health, safety and security), ensuring respect for principles such as freedom of expression. 

The AGENCY work programme is structured around four case studies, click here to learn more.