Media and Creative Industries are at the heart of rapid economic, social, cultural, technological and political transformations. Our research in Communication, Media and Cultural Studies explores the premises, manifestations and consequences of this change as a world shaped by mass communication is superseded by digital, networked societies through three central, yet overlapping themes: Participation, Practice and History.
Our lively research culture benefits from staff whose work is international in its scope and recognition. We have specialists in the study of British and European, African and North American media cultures. Our staff have held elected office in national and international subject associations including the International Communication Association and the Association of Journalism Education.
The research activities of our staff have been supported and funded by a range of external organisations including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Heritage Lottery fund, and the AOJE.
Our subject group in Media and Journalism is home to Europe’s first dedicated centre for the research of participatory culture (CenPaC) to be launched in 2016. The Centre builds on our existing strengths and expertise in the study of media audiences, users, fans and enthusiasts and examines the profound impact of the rise of forms of participation and engagements in media, popular culture and beyond. Focusing on phenomena at the heart of digital culture and convergence media, work by members of the subject groups examines forms of effect, enthusiasm and fandom (as well as of dislike and ‘antifandom’), prosumption and produsers, new textual forms and user generated content arising out of the eroding boundaries between media users and media producers, (free) digital labour, and new regimes of user driven content production.
Reflecting the centrality and ubiquity of digital media to most spheres of contemporary life, research of the Centre for Participatory Culture is theoretically, conceptually and methodologically diverse and interdisciplinary. Current and recent studies of participatory culture by our staff spans across the study of media users, texts, policy, creative industries, and history including Dr Benjamin Litherland’s research on the rise of arcade gaming in British seaside resorts; Richard McCulloch’s study of Pixar and branding as well as his participation in the World Star Wars Project examining the international reception of The Force Awakens; Cornel Sandvoss’s work on value in participatory culture, forms of enthusiasm and fandom in political communication, and the interplay of fandom, identity and belonging including associated phenomena such as transnationalism, Europeanisation, cultural globalisation and fan tourism; Amir Saeed’s research on the interplay of (social) media, ethnicity and popular culture; Andy Fox’s study of interactive television and its limitations; Michael Klontzas’s research on the role of public service broadcasters in the promotion of digital culture and media engagement; Caroline Pringle’s work on online communities, fans and podcasting; Keith Butterick’s study of processes of public participation and communication in formal consultation in partnership with The Consultation Institute; and Alistair Billam’s longitudinal examination of changes in news consumption from the pre-digital to the digital age.
In exploring the changing patterns of media use, distribution and production, the Centre Participatory Culture in turn builds on our research on media production and journalistic practice. Richard Williams Jones’s research on hyperlocal journalism documents and examines the changes in journalistic practice – such as courtroom reporting – in the face of institutional change. Deirdre O’Neill and Mercy Ette have both focused on gender and journalistic practice in political communication and beyond. Ruth Stoker explores the role of journalism education on the ethics of journalistic practice. Stephen Dorril has examined the relationship between media, states and security and intelligence service, an area on which his own investigative journalism has focused.
In exploring contemporary media cultures, a third strand of research in the subject area explores the trajectories of media use and production and popular entertainment, including film, television, radio, music, and sport. Parts of our research take a distinctly historical perspective. Martin Cooper’s analysis of radio culture explores the dynamic relationship between texts, technology, industry and audiences; Litherland's study of the history of wrestling in Britain illustrates forms of audience participation long before the rise of electronic and digital media. Dorril aims to broaden our understanding of the role of predigital mass media in the triangle between state, security services and the public. Our research in the history of media and communication contributed to the School's Oral History Research Group. Our experts in Film Studies and Journalism studies have also examined the history of genres and media texts.