Richard Dent

PhD Researcher at Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

PhD Researcher, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

Richard Dent is a PhD researcher in the Department of Sociology. His research into digital society examines the following areas:

  • Social interactions on digital platforms
  • The sharing economy & channel shift
  • Online social capital
  • Virtual assistants (social bots) for mental health and education.

Local social networking websites, like, are online communities where local people connect for a variety of social interactions, both online and offline. These sites are beginning to replace traditional community venues such as schools, churches and community centres. This is a type of 'channel shift' may have serious implications for society when individuals without competent digital social skills are left behind.

Richard is also developing a methodology for creating human-like virtual assistants (social bots) which can offer a range of services. This includes alleviating mental health issues caused by social isolation and improving digital literacy. His approach focuses on improving non-essential 'bonding' interactions between users and virtual assistants.

Richard has a professional background in public relations, project management and science communication. Previous clients include: European Commission funded Energy Union, The Tree from Global Campaign Climate Action & Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour documentary and James Cameron's Avatar Alliance Foundation.