12 Mar 2024

Pauline Lemaire awarded the 2024 Chr. Michelsen Prize

Pauline Lemaire has been awarded the Chr. Michelsen prize for outstanding development research for her article ‘Online censorship and young people's use of social media to get news’, published in International Political Science Review in July 2023.

Elections in the spotlight

4.2 billion people – more than half the global population – can vote in 2024, including those living in seven of the ten most populous countries. While social media has the potential for increased democratisation, election outcomes are also strongly influenced by social media. This as anti-democratic sentiments are rising around the world despite the spread of social media.

This is no more relevant than in Africa, whose booming youth population has also seen a rise in social media use. Research shows that users of social media are better informed and take part in more political activities.

The increasing adoption of social media across Africa initially raised hopes that young people would be able to be more politically active and more heard via social media,  but as the use of social media has grown, as has its control by African regimes.

Lemaire explores this increased control and how it is often associated with higher use of social media as a tool for getting information. Her article makes two particularly important contributions, pointing to a need for research to develop a better understanding of citizens’ perception of online controls, and showing that older citizens should not be overlooked in discussions around social media.


Pauline Lemaire receives the CMI Prize 2024 from Arild Angelsen. Photo: Cecilie Bannow ©


The research shows that while young people use social media more than older generations, and their use increases despite an increase in crackdowns over social media by governments. On the other hand, older people tend to use social media even more as government control increase in visibility.  

Overall, the committee found Pauline Lemaire’s work to have a “rich research agenda” and that she was “a very timely and worthy winner of the Chr. Michelsen’s prize for outstanding development research for 2024”.

Future work

Lemaire will be continuing her research as she explores other aspects of information control. Many authoritarian regimes do not limit themselves to restricting information access within their borders, but also seeking to control online content amongst diaspora populations abroad. Lemaire is co-ordinating the Horizon Europe-funded ARM project led by Lovise Aalen, which will aim to contextualise these efforts and offer resources for groups working to counter this control of information.

She is also hoping to build further upon this research, exploring how citizens perceive state efforts to censor, filter, and monitor online activities, how it affects their political behavior, and how authoritarian regimes use social media to recruit young people into their ranks.

 Explore her ongoing work and past publications here.




Pauline Lemaire

Post Doctoral Researcher