Dr Albert Cossu

Lecturer in Media and Communication

Email: ac777@leicester.ac.uk

Personal details

BA (Hons) Communication Science (University of Siena 2008), MSc Communication Theory (Distinction, University of Siena 2011), PhD Sociology (University of Milan, 2015)

Alberto is a sociologist and media scholar who does research at the intersection between digital media and activism, qualitative and digital methods, collaborative and digital economies. He is a Lecturer in Media & Communication within the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at the University of Leicester.

Before joining the University of Leicester, he was Lecturer in New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and previously a Research Fellow at the Department of Social & Political Sciences, University of Milan where he also obtained his PhD (Sept. 2015). During his PhD he conducted research on the mobilisation of knowledge and art workers in Italy; within the EU project P2PValue he worked as part of an international team led by Prof. A. Arvidsson on peer-to-peer models of organisation and production in Italy and France, on digital economy and co-working spaces in Italy and Thailand. He is currently conducting a research project about the practices and cultures of crypto economics.


I am currently leading or teaching the following modules:

MS7009: Contemporary Issues in Media and Cultural Studies

MS7042: Research Methods for the Online World

MS7224: New Media, Online Persuasion and Behavioural Change



Journal articles

2019a   With Leung, W.-F., ‘Embracing change: the symbolic of digital entrepreneurship in East Asia’. International Journal of Cultural Studies. Link to paper

2019b   With Gandini, A., ‘The second wave of coworking: neo-corporate movement vs resilient practice?’. Forthcoming in European Journal of Cultural Studies. Link to publication

2018a   ‘Brands and productive publics in the event economy: the case of Milano Design Week’. Sociologia del Lavoro (Sociology of Work, article in English). Link to paper

2018b   ‘Beyond social media determinism? How artists reshape the organisation of social movements’, Social Media + Society. Link to paper

2016     With d’Ovidio, M. ‘Culture is reclaiming the creative city: the case of Macao in Milan - Italy’, City, Culture & Society. Link to paper

2015     With Murru, M.F., ‘Macao prima e oltre i Social Media: la creazione dell’inatteso come logica di mobilitazione’, in Studi Culturali. (Translated in English as book chapter, 2017b). Link to paper



A. Cossu (forthcoming). Autonomous Art Institutions. Artists Disrupting the Creative City. Rowman and Littlefield (to appear in late 2020)

2017 ArtWORK: Art, Labour and Activism. London: Rowman and Littlefield (Editor with Serafini P. and Holtaway, J.). Link to book

Book Chapters

with Gandini, A. & Bandinelli, C., 'Collaborating, competing, coworking, coalescing: artists, freelancers and social entrepreneurs as the 'new subjects' of knowledge work after the creative class'. In: Graham, J. & Gandini, A. (eds.), Collaborative Production in the Creative Industries, London: University of Westminster Press.

2017b   with Murru, M.F. ‘Macao before and beyond Social Media: The Creation of the Unexpected as a Mobilisation Logic’, in ArtWORK: Art, Labour and Activism. London: Rowman and Littlefield.

2017c   with Serafini, P. and Holtaway. J. ‘Introduction’, in ArtWORK: Art, Labour and Activism. London: Rowman and Littlefield.

2014     ‘Mobiliser l’Art: une recherche théorique sur le rôle de l’art dans les mouvements sociaux’ in Rouet G. (ed.), Mobilisations Citoyennes dans l’Espace Public, Paris : L’Harmattan.


Conference papers, reports and reviews

As Organizer:

2017     Co-organizer of the one-day seminar “Platform Labour in the Digital Economy”, Dept. of Social & Political Studies, Università degli Studi di Milano. May 11.

2016     Co-organizer and paper presenter at the “Digital Sociology Public Workshop”. Paper title: ‘Hybrid assemblages: Towards a techno-cultural understanding of movements in the digital age’. Event co-organized by the Department of Social and Political Studies - Università degli Studi di Milano and the Department of Digital Humanities - King’s College London, Milan December 22.

2015     Co-organizer of the conference “Techniques of Art & Protest” and Chair of the section “Art & Labour” – King’s College London, September 18.

2015     Co-organizer and discussant of the seminar with Paolo Gerbaudo (King’s College – London) “Collective identities and aggregation processes in digital activism. How to overcome the network paradigm?”. Brown bag seminar within the Department of Social and Political Studies – University of Milan, March 31.

Invited speaker:

2018     ‘New Social Movements, co-working and start-ups. Limits and opportunities of digital methods for the study of emerging organisations”. Invited talk at the University of Naples ‘Federico II’. April 9th 2018.

2017     with A. Gandini, invited speakers at Urban Studies Seminar “Diversity of workplaces and spaces in cities”. Paper “The second wave of coworking: neo-corporate movement vs resilient practice?”. University of Southampton, September 12.

2017     Invited speaker at the Feltrinelli “Jobless Society” Forum, Milan, May 30.

2016     Invited speaker at the Fifth SoME Seminar. Paper “Embracing Big Data. An analysis of art-activists’ discourses on contemporary data flows”. Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, November 17-18.

2016     Keynote speaker at the Hi>Dance contemporary dance festival, Aosta, October 13-16.

2016     Invited speaker at Conference “Art & Politics Reloaded? - The right to the city”, Lisbon, June 5-8.

2016     Invited speaker at the Feltrinelli “Jobless Society” Forum, roundtable on Blockchain and new models of workers’ organization. Milan, April 21.

2015     Invited Speaker at the workshop “The Sociality of Sharing” organized by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick, September 23.

2015     Invited Speaker at the conference “Castoriadis Revisited: Questioning the radical imaginary in contemporary art”, Loughborough University, June 17.


As paper giver:

2018     with A. Arivdsson, ‘The Communism of Capital? ICO Traders and the Democratization of Finance’. Paper presented at the ‘Market Situations-Situated Markets. The 5th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, on 6-8th June 2018

2017     with A. Gandini, ‘The second wave of coworking: neo-corporate movement vs resilient practice?’. Paper presented at 2nd International RGCS Symposium “Coworkers, Makers & Hackers: True Opportunities to Renew Work Practices and Entrepreneurship?” UCL, 18th and 19th December 2018 - London (UK).

2017     ‘Make the Change: on the cultural logic of artistic activism in the creative city’. Paper presented at CAMEo Conference “Mediating Cultural Work: Texts, Objects and Politics”. University of Leicester, September 7.

2017     ‘Make the Change: on the cultural logic of artistic activism in the creative city’. Paper presented at ISA RC21 Conference “Rethinking Urban Global Justice. University of Leeds, September 11.

2017     with A. Gandini. ‘Urban vs distributed co-working: neo-corporate movement or resilient practice?’. Paper presented at the 1st Conference of the Italian Society of Economic Sociology (SISEC). Università Roma la Sapienza, January 27.

2016     ‘Combining digital methods and ethnography. Findings and methodological challenges for the study of social and economic movements in the age of Big Data’. Paper presented at the Royal Geographical Society Conference, London, September 2.

2016     ‘Beyond network structuralism: weaving webs of publics in art-activism’. Paper presented at the 3rd ISA Forum of Sociology, Wien, July 10-14.

2015     ‘Organizing relations in artistic social movements: the case of Macao’. Paper presented at the Social Media, Activism and Organization Conference (#SMAO15) at Goldmisths College, London, November 6.

2015     ‘When Hybrid Organizations Rethink Relational Modes for the Commons. The Case of Macao – Milano’. Paper presented at the 1st IASC Conference on the Urban Commons, Bologna, November 7.

2015     ‘Beyond dialectic. When artists rethink economic and political critique’ and ‘

‘When artists become activists. An inquiry on the professional and personal consequences of activism: the case of Macao (Milano – Italy)’. Papers presented at ECPR General Conference, Montréal, Canada. August 27.

2015     ‘Beyond dialectic. When artists rethink economic and political critique’.                                 Paper presented at “Cultures in Disarray” CMCI Conference, King’s College London. June 11.

2015     ‘The art of co-working in occupied spaces: linking political struggle and social innovation in the creative city’. Paper presented at ISA RC52 Conference, Università Cattolica di Milano, March 20.



My research focuses on two interconnected strands. The first is concerned with the transformations of artistic labour in digital societies. Drawing from my doctoral research, I published three articles on peer-reviewed journals on the relation between art activism and a) digital communication technologies (Studi Culturali); b) emerging organisational forms (Social Media + Society) and c) the creative city (City, Culture & Society). Recently, I co-edited a book that offers an international perspective on the interlinkage between art, work and labour (Rowman and Littlefield) and later in 2020 a monograph based on my doctoral research will be published (Autonomous Art Institutions. Artists Disrupting the Creative City).

The second strand regards new forms of digital and collaborative work in neoliberal societies. In particular, I have conducted research on co-working and start-up cultures in Europe and South-East Asia, the findings of which will appear in a forthcoming article for the European Journal of Cultural Studies and one has recently appeared on the International Journal of Cultural Studies. Furthermore, I have conducted a research project on the Milan Design Week. I applied visual and big data analysis to 10,000 Instagram photos, to show the importance of the social media activities of the global urban youth in the process of valorisation of a major international event. Part of the findings of this research have conveyed in an article for a special issue of the Italian journal of Sociology of Work.

Currently, I am working on a research project on the democratisation and re-appropriation of finance in the aftermath of the blockchain revolution. Through digital research, interviews and discourse analysis, I am investigating how different social groups are entering the digital financial world for the first time. I focus on how artists and creative workers are deploying local cryptocurrencies as means to alter processes of value creation and distribution. I also investigate how amateurs are socialised to blockchain-enabled currencies and equities via digital media. Applying a big data approach to traders’ Telegram chats and YouTube videos I aim to map their discourse and networks.



I am interested in supervising PhD candidates in the following areas:

  • Art Activism and related forms of political engagement by creative and cultural workers
  • Alternative modes of social organisation and economic production (e.g. peer-to-peer, commons, commoning practices)
  • Digital and collaborative forms of work (e.g. startups, coworking spaces, digital nomads) with a focus on south-east Asia and China
  • Digital media economics (e.g. economies of Instagram influencers, game streamers etc.)
  • Democratisation of Finance: research on cryptocurrencies, their social and cultural significance

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Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Campus based courses
E: mcs-enquiries@le.ac.uk
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
E: css-dl@le.ac.uk
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785
E: MCS-Research@le.ac.uk

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