Research Projects

Digitalisation in the field of social work

Project descriptions

At the Institute of Educational Sciences at the University of Graz I conducted different research projects on digital transformation processes and the use of artificial intelligence in the field of social work in Austria together with my colleagues Sabine Klinger, Andrea Mayr and Esther Brossmann-Handler. We focussed on the perspectives of social work employees and their digital literacies, desires and needs, and we developed participatory research designs to develop recommendations for actions from practice for practice. We published the most important results in several papers (see publications).

2024-2025: AI@Youthwork (Arbeiterkammer Steiermark).

2023-2025: Digi@Youthwork (Arbeiterkammer Steiermark; together with FH JOANNEUM and Lebensgroß).

2020-2022: Digi@Socialwork (Arbeiterkammer Steiermark; together with IGSF)

For further information see:

Understanding Youth Participation and Media literacy in Digital Dialogue Spaces

Project information

Young people have largely withdrawn from traditional forms of democratic participation. They are still keen to engage in democratic life, but ask for more and different public spaces of participation. Addressing this challenge, the key goal of the U-YouPa project is to provide a research-based understanding of the interconnection between cultural and technological preconditions for strengthening youth participation in digital dialogue spaces, thus meeting the fundamental challenges of inclusion currently emerging in European countries.

Project partners: Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway (lead); University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz; FH JOANNEUM, Graz; Malmö University, Sweden.
Funding: The Research Council of Norway (2020-2025)
My role in the project: Principal Investigator (Austria)

Web Literacy Lab

Information on the Web Literacy Lab

At the Web Literacy Lab at FH JOANNEUM Graz I was involved in various research projects on (online) communication and explored digital phenomena in journalism and social media. My main areas of interest were online hate speech, digital literacy, social media and political participation, the digitalisation of the professional world and social media in crisis communication. My most important projects at the Web Literacy Lab were:

2019-2021 NoHate@WebStyria (Zukunftsfonds, Land Steiermark; together with Europäisches Trainings- und Forschungszentrum für Menschenrechte und Demokratie, University of Graz; Antidiskriminierungsstelle Steiermark):

2018-2020: Digi@Work (Zukunftsfonds, Land Steiermark; together with University of Graz; Know Center Graz; Arbeiterkammer Graz; XSample Graz):

2014-2018 RESCUE: Researching Social Media Use in Emergency Situation (The Research Council of Norway; together with Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway; Bengler AS, Norway; Åbo Akademi, Finland; Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom):

For further information see:

GAPPP: Gamified Audiovisual Performance and Performance Practice

Project information

Computer games have become a fashionable area of research, which has been covered by many different fields of research in the humanities and in the arts. However, only to a comparatively small extent have computer game elements been explored in the realm of audiovisual composition and performance. This artistic research project starts out with the assumption that player interactions and game strategies offer yet unexplored models that can be applied in live audiovisual works.

The goal of the research is to develop a thorough understanding of the potential of game based elements in audiovisual works. This affect the work on several technical levels – e.g. regarding the implementation of algorithms and the design of the interface – but also raises questions regarding the perception: how do we create a balanced perception of events taking place on a stage area and simultaneously on a virtual screen? How can the performer act as a mediator and involve the audience in the performance as “backseat-players”? These questions have not, yet, been researched and they ask for an investigation from the point of view of artistic practice.

Head of the project: Marko Ciciliani (Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics, University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria)
Barbara Lüneburg, Susanne Sackl-Sharif & Andreas Pirchner
FWF-PEEK (2016-2018)

After Bologna: Gender Studies in Entrepreneurial Universities

Project information

The current restructuring of higher education institutes as ‘entrepreneurial universities’ does not only concern their internal organisational structures and their relations to external actors; significantly, it involves also changes in the production of scientific knowledge and thus, in scientific knowledge itself. The proposed project ‘Gender Studies in entrepreneurial universities’ focuses on this level of knowledge. It deals with the new gender studies curricula that have been installed in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland since 1997, i.e. at almost the same time the ‘Bologna’ reform was launched. The project assumes that the implementation of gender studies leads to the emergence of path-dependent, local ‘institutional hybrids’ (Richard Münch) linking ‘Bologna’ requirements with the objectives of gender studies. By carrying out qualitative, actor-centered, comparative case studies on the implementation process of gender studies, the project will assess (1) the knowledge, the issues and topical questions, the theories, methods and fields of application that have entered the curricula and are thus presented as relevant scientific knowledge on gender, (2) the negotiation processes that started even before the implementation process and accompanied it, (3) the actors usually involved in the process, and (4) the imprint the imperatives of the ‘enterpreneurial university’ and the ‘Bologna’ reforms have on the present gender studies curricula.

Project leaders: Sabine Hark (TU Berlin) & Angelika Wetterer (KFU Graz)
Researchers: Gerlinde Malli, Susanne Sackl-Sharif, Elisabeth Zehetner (Graz), Aline Oloff, Anja Rozwandowicz (Berlin)
Fundings: FWF/DFG (2012-2014)
Website: This research project is part of the research assocation “GenderChange in Academia” (

Gender – Metal – Videoclips. A qualitative reception study

Abstract of my PhD thesis

In my PhD thesis, I explore different relationships between the conceptual dimensions of gender, metal music, and video clips. On the one hand, I address gender aspects of the social field of metal, focussing especially on how metal fans conceptualize metal. Fans define metal not solely positively by giving accounts of what metal actually is, but also negatively by distinguishing metal from non-metal. Special attention is given to the role of gender in the actors’ definitions of metal. Is gender a relevant factor in defining metal? Is metal, for instance, considered to be an especially masculine music? On the other hand, I discuss gender aspects of (metal) video clips, focussing on the processes of perception and evaluation by metal fans of the clips’ musical, sonic, lyrical, and visual elements.

The theoretical framework of the thesis draws primarily on social constructivist gender theories, on different approaches towards gender knowledge, and on Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of social field and habitus. I conceive metal to be a social field that is constructed by the actors within this field. The construction depends upon the actors’ habitus, which encompasses schemes of perception, thought, and action. Empirical data for my thesis was gathered in intensive qualitative interviews conducted with 20 metal fans aged 14 to 21 years from the greater area of Graz. In these interviews I discussed the fans’ music and media preferences as well as five metal video clips: (1) Satyricon “The Pentagram Burns“, (2) Falconer “Carnival of Disgust“, (3) Avenged Sevenfold “Burn It Down“, (4) Tarja Turunen “I Walk Alone“, and (5) Arch Enemy “My Apocalypse“.

Susanne Sackl-Sharif (2015). Gender – Metal – Videoclips. Eine qualitative Rezeptionsstudie. Opladen/Berlin/Toronto: Budrich UniPress Ltd.