Previous Visiting Speaker Seminars

2016 Seminar Series

21 July: "Biographical Risk in a Flexible Media Economy: Models and Data for the Analysis of Journalists’ Careers in the 21st Century", Dr Gilles Bastin.

11 May: "Mediatisation, Marginalisation and Disruption in Australian Indigenous Affairs," Dr Kerry McCallum.

This presentation considers how the changing media landscape is impacting on the capacity of marginalised groups to participate in policy debate. It first reviews news media’s role in the exclusion of Indigenous people within the Australian State. Research for the Media and Indigenous Policy project found that media power was most potent at moments of ‘crisis’ when news agendas and the media-focused practices of policy-makers conflated in an intimate dialogue. The proposed referendum to formally recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution is offered as a contemporary example of mediatised politics. In an increasingly media-saturated environment, political leaders and their policy bureaucrats attend to a narrow range of mediated voices. Political news media privileges political elites and a few high-profile Indigenous ‘media stars’. At the same time, the rapidly changing media environment has disrupted the progress of the Recognise campaign.

The vibrant, diverse and growing sphere of Indigenous participatory media and the digital media practices of open journalism arguably widen the scope of who and what can be heard in debates about recognition. Vigorous public discussion takes place outside the mainstream institutions of media and politics, and social media campaigns emerge in rapid response to government decisions. The presentation concludes on a cautionary note by considering some tensions in the promise of the changing media for Indigenous participation in the national policy conversation.

10 May: "Mediating ‘unimaginable’ suffering: Cosmopolitanism in participatory documentary filmmaking," Dr. Karina Horsti

This paper examines an Italian online audio-visual archive Archivio delle memorie migranti that documents and archives experiences of contemporary migration in Italy. In addition to collecting testimonies the archive has produced documentary films that draw on participatory aesthetics. A documentary film Come un uomo sulla terra/Like a man on earth (2008) and interviews with filmmakers are analyzed using the notions of mediated witness and participatory aesthetics as analytical lenses. The paper examines how the filmmakers negotiate and re-balance the gaps in solidarity: the one between the vulnerable refugee subjects and the Western publics, and the one between the worlds of the refugees and the media professionals.
The archive and the film are practices of solidarity through which the activists explore the ways in which ‘unimaginable’ suffering at European borders can be publicly mediated in an ethical way. Participatory approach therefore extends from production to post-production in a way that is sensitive to diasporic audiences. The moral founding of the archive is cosmopolitan: it treats eyewitness testimonies of suffering beyond national frameworks. In so doing, the archive recognizes transcultural nature of both witnessing and memory. The archive visions future Europe as a society where the descendants of both communities – of those who sought refuge and of those that either prevented or welcomed refugees – will live together.

4 May: "How to design for behaviour change", Sille Krukow

For the past 9 years Sille Krukow has been making strategic changes in human surroundings, systems, services, products and platforms in order to change and improve human behavior - improving employee and consumer ows, sales and product development at both public and privately held companies, she has effectively increased consumer loyalty, employee satisfaction and revenues, to mention some. Sille Krukow is a Danish Behavioral Design Expert, providing research based choice architecture, putting cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, data and human mappings into practice. Based on observations and data, she and the team at KRUKOW, maps out human behavior, sets up measurable targets and tests prototype-solutions before creating recommendations for private companies, public institutions, ministries and behavioral scientists. Her methodologies has been developed and tested together with leading scientists in human behavior and is now being taught at universities worldwide.

9 March: "Expressing feelings on Twitter and network size", Dr Yeslam Al-Saggaf

Do people who express negative feelings (loneliness, sadness) on Twitter gain or lose online contacts? To answer this question, we tracked the number of followers and followees of people who tweeted about loneliness or sadness twice; once when they expressed the negative feeling and a second time five months later. We compared the networks of those users with the networks of others who either simply retweeted tweets about loneliness/sadness or (re)tweeted about the corresponding positive feelings. Using these two comparison groups allows us to examine whether differences in network size are driven by genuinely expressing (vs. retweeting) a negative emotion. People expressing loneliness in their tweets, as well as people expressing sadness in their tweets had smaller networks than people expressing feeling loved or happiness. This effect held only for the original tweets, not retweets, and was – in case of sad/happy – stronger for the followees than the followers. Moreover, we found that people expressing loneliness also had smaller friends’ networks five months later than the people expressing feeling loved, and that the networks of the people expressing sadness became even smaller during the following five months.

24 February: "The disloyal opposition?  Journalist perspectives on government-media relationships in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing democracy", Dr Ian Somerville

A key outcome of the Good Friday Agreement (10th April 1998), which brought to an end the violent conflict known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland, was the devolution of powers to a consociational (i.e. mandatory power-sharing) government. This constitutional settlement means that the political institutions operate in significantly different ways from the majoritarian electoral systems which characterize most Western democratic societies. Consociationalism has been advocated as a democratic arrangement which can help reconcile and rebuild societies fragmented along religious, racial, or linguistic lines, particularly those which have recently experienced violent conflict (Lijphart 2008). Historically it has emerged as a political system in deeply divided societies such as those in Bosnia, Switzerland, India, Macedonia, Lebanon, Belgium and Northern Ireland (Lemarchand 2007). There has been limited research into the relationships of political journalists and their government sources in deeply divided and constitutionally complex societies such as Northern Ireland and even less in post-conflict societies. The present study addresses this research gap by examining political journalists' perspectives on the government-media communicative relationship in Northern Ireland's post-conflict democracy. The journalists' narratives are analysed alongside those from the government sources with whom they most regularly interact to produce political news stories in Northern Ireland; Government Information Officers (GIOs) and Ministerial Special Advisers (SpAds). Their views are discussed within broader debates about government-media interactions in democratic societies and more specifically the roles and responsibilities of the media in conflict or post-conflict contexts.

2015 Seminar Series

2 December: "A Gross Irrelevance”? Coverage of “Europe" on “English" TV news (2014)’, Prof Andrew Tolson

This paper looks at British TV news coverage of two recent political events: the European election and the Scottish independence referendum, which both took place in 2014. It has its origins in two research projects, one ongoing the other completed, which have analysed these events from an international, comparative perspective. In this context, British TV news seems to be distinctive in the way it is addressed to an ‘English’ viewer – and this accounts for some similarities in the coverage of the two events. Partly this is reflected in a pervasive news agenda (particularly concerned with the rise of UKIP) but also, and in contradictory ways, in the modes of address through which these events were ‘framed’. Related to this there were some interesting generic developments in approaches to investigative journalism. In general then, the paper takes up Robert Agne’s recent suggestion that future research might look at how political “issues get framed in the news”, arguing that some political issues certainly seem to be problematic as far as TV journalism is concerned..

25 November: ‘Hobbit Labour: Precarious Labour Organisation in Transnational Film Production’, Dr Bridget Conor

This paper analyses a 2010-11 employment dispute surrounding the filming of The Hobbit in Aotearoa, New Zealand in which the often opaque labour relations within networks of transnational screen production were briefly and breathtakingly revealed. The case is examined in relation to theories of cultural work and feminist political economy. In particular, I draw on Judy Fudge’s (2005) concepts of industrial and market citizenship and ‘citizenship at work’ to understand how this dispute was fought, framed and resolved. The dispute highlights the investments that producers and national governments continue to make in precarious and individualised labour relations, investments that cut across regional, national and supra-national boundaries. I will discuss these investments and will then use the case to argue for a renewed attention to emergent forms of collective labour organisation in studies of cultural work.

11 November: 'The Internet as a Cultural Field: The Case of Privacy on Sina Weibo', Dr Elaine Yuan

Recent developments of market-oriented social relations and individualization have greatly disturbed the existing boundaries between private and public in contemporary China. In time of change, privacy as socially constituted yet internalized predispositions are subject to negotiation in people’s daily practices and discourses. This project examines the discourse of “privacy/隐私”, consisting of 18,000 postings, on Sina Weibo, China’s largest social medium. First, semantic network analysis is employed to extract a network of major privacy related concepts as the perceptive structure of codes embedded in online discourses. Then eleven distinct yet organically related concept clusters are identified to represent the personal, professional, public, emotional, as well as spatial dimensions of the complex notion of privacy. The interpretation of the findings is carried out against the context of a rapidly evolving private realm in relation to the emerging new situations of the public realm. As a conclusion, the notion of privacy as a social scheme necessarily defines and is defined by social actors’ interests. In this light, privacy is being reformulated as a medium of differentially available capitals and relatedly of social relations. Lastly, I discuss the socio-techno mediation on social media to emphasize the point that the processes of institutionalization and cultural reconceptualization are mutually constitutive.

14 October: 'Picturing Atrocity Across the Ages - and Why it Matters Today, Professor Simon Cottle

This presentation reports on work in progress and is part of a more encompassing research programme exploring the history of communications and violence. Here we are interested in exploring the changing historical registers and shifting sentiments evident within depictions of atrocity across the ages. Specifically we discern not only the immediate power plays and political uses that representations of atrocity are put to in struggles for legitimation and change, but also the ways in which such depictions register considerably longer-term historical and developmental processes in human society. These historical antecedents and dynamics can tell us much about the nature of contemporary representations and how these may yet inform the conduct and pursuit of humanitarian, human rights and human security approaches to atrocity in a globalizing and increasingly mediated world. As a way of securing empirical purchase on this subject the presentation deliberately focuses on one depicted atrocity in particular, a scene represented many times in Western art from the 10th to the 21st centuries: ‘Massacre of the Innocents.’ By examining over 100 depictions of this same scene across this wide historical time period, the analysis begins to recover wider trends in how depictions of atrocity have changed over time and what this can tell us about how they may now register within wider, globalizing society.

2014 Seminar Series

19 November: 'Internet Geographies: Data Shadows and Digital Divisions of Labour’, Dr. Mark Graham

Digital information is the raw material for much of the work that goes on in the contemporary global economy, andthere are few people and places that remain entirely disconnected from international andglobal economic processes. As such, it is important to understand who produces and reproduces, who has access, and who and where are represented by information in our contemporary knowledge economy. This talk discusses inequalities in historical information geographies, before moving to examine the Internet-era potentials for new and more inclusionary patterns. It concludes that rather than democratizing platforms of knowledge sharing, changing connectivities appear to be enabling a digital division of labour in which the visibility, voice and power of the North is reinforced rather than diminished.

8 October: 'Social Media, Protest Cultures and Political Imaginaries', Dr Tim Markham

This session tackles the tendency in much of the academic literature to think about new protest cultures, especially in social media, in vitalist or ecological terms. In much the same way as Judith Butler’s performativity, the idea of social and political imaginaries has morphed from its original conception outlined by Charles Taylor to come to be defined negatively: there is a resistance to being prescriptive about new forms of political subjectivity, and instead spaces or sites of protean transformativity are identified and defended as though they were fragile life forms. But while social media might be experienced as immersive, serendipitous or ambient, it does not follow that they provide a blank canvas on which more authentic or pure cultures of protest will appear. Looked at phenomenologically, social media can be understood using the same terms as other media – thrownness, at-handness – terms which suggest that individualism and collectivism have not been superseded and that institutions still matter.

11 July: 'Sexual minorities, media and politics in post-socialist countries', A one day workshop organized by Dr Galina Miazhevich

The 2014 Eurovision victory by Conchita Wurst sparked a vigorous debate in themedia across Europe and especially in post-socialist states. It ranged from explicitly homophobic remarks to conflation of the performance with nation-building andgeopolitics (the pronounced anti-Western sentiment, the links to ongoing turmoil in Ukraine e.g. a Facebook statement that ‘a bearded woman stopped the war in Ukraine’, This one-day workshop focuses on this intersection of sexual minorities, media and politics in post-socialist countries and offers a platform to reflect on these and wider issues related to the topic.

14 May: 'Charting Nano-Media: ‘alternative’? ‘community’? ‘tactical’? ‘counter-information’? … what’s in a name?', Professor Emeritus John Downing

The study of various kinds of small-scale media has become something of a boom-topic. It has been further spurred over the last five years by the uses of digital networking media in social protests in Greece, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and in a slew of countries outside that region. What used to be defined as ephemeral and trivial nano-media are now beginning to be taken a lot more seriously. The terms used to denote these media, however, easily exceed the four mentioned in the title of this talk. Is this the consequence of the academic research industry’s obsessive need to classify? Is it because these media are as various as a continent, and therefore defy classification?

7 May: ‘Internet Studies: Past, Present and Future Directions’, Dr Panayiota Tsatsou, University of Leicester

Panayiota presented from her forthcoming book Internet Studies: Past, Present and Future Directions (September 2014, Ashgate). She will offer an overview of her book and present some of its answers to questions such as: How does work in the field of Internet studies inform us about the multi-layered, complex and controversial role and significance of the Internet? What are the lessons, challenges and possible risks that scholars in the field of Internet studies must be prepared to encounter in the future? See an abstract for her talk here.

5 March: 'Reconstructing Journalism’s Public Rationale', Professor Nick Couldry, London School of Economics

If journalism (and other forms of media) are to survive at all longer-term, they will need to become directly profitable in their own right or benefit from cross-subsidy from another, as yet undiscovered, source. Hence the need for new arguments to provide a public rationale for journalism. This talk (see abstract here) explored how we can begin to develop such normative arguments and what intellectual resources we may need to undertake that task.

26 February: 'The emotional architecture of social media: The case of the Facebook "Like" button', Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, University of Cardiff

This presentation (see abstract here) argues that work on mediated participation needs to take a careful look at the emotional architecture of technologies and platforms of participation. In particular, it considers the forms of emotional expression that are structurally encouraged in social media on the basis of design decisions.

5 February, 2014: 'Radical PR! Exploring Agonistic Democracy Theory in Boundary- Spanning Communication Practice', Dr Scott Davidson, University of Leicester

As part of the ongoing project to seek social and intellectual legitimacy, academic public relations has attempted to address the problem of historical associations with propaganda. This paper (see full abstract here) explores and draws upon Chantal Mouffe to critique the notion that symmetry or rational dialogue have solved the problem of PR’s position within the maintenance and establishment of discursive hegemonies.

Seminar Series, Autumn 2013

4 December: 'The Class Politics of Hyperbole on Geordie Shore', Professor Helen Wood, University of Leicester. Read the full abstract here.

Geordie Shore has received attention for the shocking antics of its cast members as they party and have casual sex for the MTV reality show. This paper considers the performance of the young working-class participants from Newcastle, a post-industrial northern British city, against the backdrop of high youth unemployment. Whilst their dubious contracts with MTV mean that their income is mostly generated through publicity appearances outside of the show, this paper considers how new labour relations of performance produce exaggeration and hyperbole where claiming visibility is one of the few routes to value.

20 November: 'The Politics of New Labour’s Cultural Policies', Professor Kate Oakley, University of Leeds

This paper (read the abstract here) assesses the cultural policies of 'New Labour', the UK Labour government of 1997 to 2010. It takes neo-liberalism as its starting point, asking to what extent Labour's cultural policies can be validly and usefully characterised as neoliberal. Using examples such as NESTA, museums policy and regional creative industries, it argues that neo-liberalism is a significant but rather crude tool for evaluating and explaining New Labour's cultural policies.

9 October: 'The Currency of Goffman', Professor Espen Ytreberg

This talk (see abstract here) charts the development of Erving Goffman's dramaturgical approach and the societal contexts that have made it salient, from 1960s white collar society and counterculture to today's cultures of person branding, corporate performance and generalised surveillance. It discusses some of the ways Goffman's concepts have been recontextualised and bent for the purposes of explaining broadcast and digital media performances. The talk builds on Peter Lunt and Espen Ytreberg's ongoing book project, Goffman and the Media, for Polity Press.

Past Seminars, Spring 2013

March 13th: Thomas Tufte, Roskilde University: 'Civil Society Driven Media Platforms:  A critical assessment of the new darling of development communication'

With the advent of new digital media and with mobile telephony in particular, a whole range of new civil society driven media platforms have emerged worldwide and have gained a lot of attention as agents for change. However, parallel to this new generation of media platforms, a whole different experience of civil society driven media platforms exists, mainly but not exclusively mass media based, widespread and successful in articulating change in Africa. They emerged and have grown out of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s and onwards. By uncovering one of these successful experiences from Tanzania, that of Femina HIP, this presentation wishes to critically assess and discuss issues of how media and communication, both as technologies, media flow (genres), organizations and social practices, can be used to articulate processes of public sphere engagement and promote participatory governance processes.

March 6th: Galina Miazhevich, University of Leicester: Networked Individuals & Civic Engagement in post-Soviet space

This study investigates whether the Internet can be turned into an effective tool for democratization and civic mobilization in a context in which differentials in power relations are particularly sharp (the former Soviet Union). It offers three-way comparative study of new media democratising potential in three post-Soviet states – Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia (UBR). The proposed analysis is aimed at (i) evaluating the new media’s role in generating a counter-force or an alternative public sphere in the region and (ii) the unpacking of the unique multi-dimensional nature of new media in the post-Soviet cultural settings.

February 20th: Sonia Livingstone, LSE: Questioning the relation between mediatization and individualization: Lessons from a teenage classroom.

The project, The Class: social networking and the changing practices of learning among youth is based at the LSE and funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of the Connected Learning Research Network. In an ethnographic study in an ordinary London school, the researchers have followed the social, digital and learning networks of a class of 13-14 year olds at home, school and elsewhere over the course of an academic year: observing social interactions in and between lessons; conducting interviews with children, parents, teachers and relevant others; and mapping out-of-school engagements with digital networking technologies to reveal both patterns of use and the quality and meaning of such engagements as they shape the learning opportunities of young people.

Past Seminars, Autumn 2012

Presented by Professor John Downey, Loughborough University,‘Crises of capitalism and the management of dissent' examined the ways in which opposition to and dissent from governmental attempts to handle economic crisis are ideologically managed in the news media.

Presented by Sarah Gong from Media and Communication at Leicester, 'Mediating Science and Nature' analysed the representation and consumption of infant formula advertising on Chinese television, following the baby milk scare in 2008.

'Regression Analysis?  The Reporting of Women during the 2010 UK General Election' was presented by Dominic Wring and Emily Harmer from Loughborough University.

Past Seminars, January-June, 2012

Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute): Digital Transformations of Research: How distributed collaboration is changing the sciences and humanities

Mirca Madianou: Mediating migration: polymedia and transnational family communication

Anna Claydon: The Detective and his Nemesis: Mr Monk and the case of the Neurotic Expert

Vincent Campbell: Citizen Journalism and the Big Society

Farida Vis: Policing the crisis communication: reading the riots on Twitter and beyond

Tracy Simmons and Palitha Edirisingha (Beyond Distance Research Alliance): Participatory Cultures: A Pilot Study on HE Students Digital Literacy

November 2010 - December 2011

Dr Henrik Ornebring, (Department of Politics and International Relations, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford): Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

Professor Brigitte Nerlich, (Nottingham University): Moderation: Impossible on Science, Media and Expertise

Professor Peter King, (School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester): Newspaper reporting of crime and its impact in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century London

Dr Simon Faulkner, Manchester Metropolitan University: In Bilin, we are banging, we are screaming': Thoughts on protest, the media, and the Israeli occupation

Dr Ruth Page (School of English, University of Leicester): Celebrity Stories in Twitter

Dr Maura Conway (MA Programme Director, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University): Violent Online Radicalisation: Weighing the Role of the Internet in Contemporary Terrorism

Dr Cristina Archetti (Lecturer in Politics and Media, University of Salford): The impact of advances in communication technologies on the practice of foreign diplomats in London

Dr Normaliza Abd Rahim (Department of Media and Communication Visiting Research Fellow from Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia): Awareness Raising through Multiracial Media Programs in Malaysia

Laura Dudulich and -att Thomas Wall (Dept of Political Science University of Amsterdam): Cyberspace oddity: Candidate and Parties' campaigns online in the Republic of Ireland'

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