dr. Cato Waeterloos

Postdoc researcher at the research group for Media, Innovation and Communication Technologies, Department of Communication Sciences, Ghent University.

cato waterloos 2

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Political participation
Civic participation
Social media
Digital media


Cato Waeterloos is a postdoctoral at imec-mict-UGent and the department of Communication Sciences.

Her main research interests include different aspects of the interaction between new media and citizens’ civic and political participation, including political socialization, news consumption, civic media literacies and social media uses.

She joined the research group in October 2018 as a PhD candidate. Cato holds a master’s degree in Communications Sciences with a specialization in New Media and Society. Her master’s thesis examined the potential of long-form multimedia journalism among news consumers in Flanders using qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews and observations, supervised by prof. dr. Sarah Van Leuven.

In 2022, Cato obtained her PhD in Communication Sciences under the supervision of prof. dr. Koen Ponnet and prof. dr. Michel Walrave. In this four-year BOF-funded research project, she investigated the role of digital media, and social media specifically, in citizens’ political and civic participation. The main aim was to understand how and why citizens employ new technologies and social media as platforms for political participation and expression on social issues. Cato investigated how these innovative forms of participation exist next to more established participatory acts (such as voting, protesting or signing petitions). In addition, her research explores which factors influence the choices people make in the democratic landscape (such as news consumption and different attitudes).

As part of her PhD project, Cato has developed and validated a survey instrument to measure political participation on social media. Furthermore, she has conducted studies towards online and offline climate activism, as well as civic participation during the covid-19 pandemic.