Research Officer, project

The OpenLaws project is developing a socio-technical system with the aim of making legislation, case law and legal literature more accessible to key stakeholders, including citizens. My interest in the project is twofold: on the one hand I will support the design and the implementation of engagement strategies of potential users and, on the other hand, I will investigate users’ motivations and behaviours and will support the development of an appropriate governance model. With reference to the last point, my research is mainly focused on economic anthropology and its possible contribution in informing new sustainability and governance models for OpenLaws.

I hold a first class degree in Sociology, with a Minor in Cultural Anthropology, and a PhD degree in Social Science from the Department of Sociology and Communications, both from the University of Rome La Sapienza. I developed two parallel career tracks: one more oriented towards academia, with a focus on social anthropology dealing especially with discrimination and visual representation of diversity, and the other more oriented towards private-sector research and innovation, with a focus on the socio-economic dimensions of innovation.

In the first track, I was Teaching Assistant for Cultural Anthropology and Intercultural Communications courses in my department at La Sapienza (2002-2009), I was engaged in the EU project CHICAM – “Children in communication about migration” – and I was project manager and research coordinator in the EU project NISO – “Fighting homophobia through ctive citizenship and media education”. I also acted as consultant for Italian research centres and OECD, developing research reports on the situation of second-generation youth in Italy.

In the second track I worked on EU research-projects in the area of innovation over the past 9 years, contributing to or leading all stages of the research process (from research design definition to the elaboration of policy recommendations and the dissemination of results).

In recent years, these two tracks have been converging due to the growing importance of social science, qualitative methods, and interdisciplinarity in ICT-related research. More specifically, recent projects dedicated to Digital Social Innovation, of which OpenLaws is a good example, offer the opportunity to investigate not only the impact of innovation on society, but also participation dynamics, representation of identities, power asymmetries, and empowerment processes in new online environments.

In addition to my work at the LSE, I head the Society, Innovation and Social Capital Research Unit at T6 Ecosystems (|), and I am the founder of RappresentAzione, a not-for-profit organisation which uses expressive means, such as writing and visual representations, in integration and empowerment processes.

Research interests

My research interests are linked to the above-mentioned working experiences. I see myself as a sociologist/social anthropologist who had the opportunity to work with computer scientists for several years and developed a crossdisciplinary understanding of innovation dynamics. I do not see ICT as synonymous with innovation, but as socially-informed tools involved in innovation processes, facilitating and catalysing other processes. ICTs in general and the online-world specifically are for me non-neutral “objects” to be analysed critically. In this sense, I see the potential of critical theory, critical anthropology, cultural studies and post-colonial theories as a positive influence on the analysis of socio-technical environments and processes. I am especially interested in action-research methods and I tend to combine analysis and interpretation with ad-hoc interventions that aim at changing the context under analysis, relying on the active participation of relevant actors. In recent years I worked extensively on the definition of evaluation and impact assessment methodologies for research outputs and in their testing in different domains.

Selected publications

Passani, A., Monacciani, F., van der Graaf, S., Spagnoli, F., Bellini, F., Debicki, M & Dini, P. (2014). SEQUOIA: A methodology for the socio-economic impact assessment of Software-as-a-Service and Internet of Services research projects. Research Evaluation, 23 (2), pp. 133-149, Oxford University Press.

Passani, A., Debicki, M (Forthcoming), Understanding and contrasting homophobia and heteronormativity: results of an action-research project, Journal of LGBT Youth, Routledge.

Bellini, F, Monacciani, F., Navarra, M., Passani, A. (2012) Socio-economic impact assessment of research e-Infrastructures: A proposal for a methodological approach, eChallange 2012 – Conference proceedings.

Botto, F, Passani, A and Yedugundla VK (2010). Digital Ecosystems Adoption at Local Level: A preliminary Analysis, in Fernando AB Colugnati, Lia CR Lopes, and Saulo FA Barretto, Editors, Digital Ecosystems: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference, OPAALS 2010, Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil, 22-23 March. Springer LNICST, pp. 76-91.

Passani, A and Scaramella, C. (2010). Sguardi Diversi: Riflessioni e materiali per l’educazione interculturale (Different glances: Analysis and instruments for intercultural communication education). Giulio Perrone Editori.

Passani, A (2007). Mediare le identità: La media education come mezzo per l’educazione interculturale (Mediating identities: Media education as an instrument for intercultural education), in Ongini, V, Ed., Se la scuola incontra il mondo (If the School Meets the World), published by Idest.