Cato Waeterloos

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

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Political Participation
Civic participation
Social media
Digital media


Cato Waeterloos is a junior researcher at imec-mict-UGent. 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.

Currently, Cato is working on a BOF-funded research project under the supervision of prof. dr. Koen Ponnet and prof. dr. Michel Walrave. In this project, she investigates the role of digital media, and social media specifically, in citizens’ political and civic participation. The main aim is to understand how and why citizens employ new technologies and social media as platforms for political participation and expression on social issues.

Cato is especially interested in 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 the 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.