MCS News

School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester
Issue 2

Funding success: two Cancer Research UK grants 

Two Cancer Research UK Grants in the School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Professor Jason Hughes has recently received funding for two studies. He is principal Investigator on the first, entitled 'Adolescent Vaping Careers' (approximate FEC of £278,000), and Co-Investigator on the second, entitled ‘The Regulation of E-Cigarettes in and Around Organisational Lives’ (approximate FEC of £103,000; PI Charlotte Smith, Leicester Business School). Both are funded by Cancer Research UK’s Tobacco Advisory Group (TAG), and will commence in May 2017. The two projects, each in different ways, explore aspects of the recent ascendancy of e-cigarette use or ‘vaping’.

'Adolescent Vaping Careers'

The first project focuses on adolescent vaping. A great deal of controversy surrounds the extent to which e-cigarettes might act as a ‘gateway’ to smoking, and might be exploited by tobacco companies as a new means of recruiting a generation of nicotine dependents. This new study will seek to capture the relationship between vaping and smoking by employing the concept of ‘career’. It centrally assumes that drug use of any kind is not simply a passive process through which a bio-chemical process ‘takes control’ - as is the case in simplistic notions of addiction. Rather, users typically have to learn about techniques and technologies to progress to later stages of their drug-using ‘careers’.

The study thus focuses on the social/material conditions under which some users might switch from vaping to smoking, or indeed from smoking to vaping, or perhaps even towards full cessation. It explores the interaction between social learning, media influences, peer networks, and a range of socio-economic factors in influencing the different usage trajectories of adolescent vapers. Ultimately, it seeks to inform harm reduction and tobacco control strategies which target this particularly vulnerable age group.

'The Regulation of E-Cigarettes in and Around Organisational Lives'

The second study picks up on the theme that e-cigarettes might lead away from smoking as well as towards it. While there are major divisions in the scientific community over the long-term dangers of e-cigarette use, there is a broad consensus that vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking. Given this, the rise in e-cigarette use presents something of a quandary: it is potentially the most significant grass roots shift in public health behaviours over the last century. Simultaneously, however, it is potentially a new means of recreational nicotine consumption that might be harnessed by powerful economic interests to recruit a new generation of users who might not have otherwise smoked. This makes regulation difficult: if e-cigarettes are too heavily regulated, it may paradoxically encourage users who were moving to a safer source of nicotine back to combustible tobacco.

Recent EU legislation has introduced a range of measures aimed at restricting the sale, marketing, advertising, packaging, and supply of e-cigarette devices and consumables. However, in the UK there are as yet no statutory restrictions on vaping in the workplace nor other public places - but many workplaces and public places have developed non-statutory policies and restrictions on e-cigarette consumption.

In this study, we will ask what the implications might be if vapers are pushed ‘on to the doorstep’ alongside smokers. Might, for example, those users who see it as a means of smoking cessation be encouraged instead to think about it as ‘just another’ means of recreational nicotine use? How might others see ‘vapers’ if they occupy the same spaces as smokers? Conversely, what are the implications of allowing e-cigarette users to vape at their desks? How might co-workers view this?

Ultimately, the research will consider how non-statutory policies both inform, as well as become informed by, such notions of relative risk. These, and other related issues will be centrally explored in the study, which seeks as an output to develop guidelines for workplace vaping policies.

Newton Tech4Dev launch event

A project led by Dr Jonathan Corpus Ong from the School of Media, Communication and Sociology seeks to explore how media and communication technologies can be used during disasters, as well as to promote social welfare in the developing world. The project, supported by a Newton Fund Institutional Links grant from the British Council, will run from two years from April 2016 to March 2018, with £150,000 awarded to the University of Leicester and an equal amount awarded to De La Salle University Philippines as the partner institution. 

Dr Ong, who is leading the project said: "Disasters and emergencies need to be studied in a comparative and multi-perspectival way. By building inclusive spaces for knowledge exchange where first responders from the developing world dialogue with global policymakers and researchers, we hope to appreciate the complexity of social problems instead of rushing toward easy solutions."

In November 2016, the Newton Tech4Dev Network was launched at the University of Leicester, bringing together a global consortium of scholars to advance research on digital technologies in low- and middle-income countries. The launch event created an inclusive and intersectoral space to build linkages with diverse partners and plan collaborations toward future Overseas Development Assistance projects, researcher exchange programmes, and scholarship schemes. The event was entitled ‘Crisis Work & Digital Opportunities’ - this theme sparked a stimulating mix of ideas on innovations and their challenges from around the world.

Among the many participants at the workshop was Philippe Stoll, of International Committee of the Red Cross, who gave a keynote address that set out the close relationship of crises and digital opportunities. Thomas Tufte, a Professor in the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at the University of Leicester, reflected on the pervasiveness of media in everyday lives which transforms the targeted, situated audience into a networked, mobile audience.

Testament to the liveliness of conversations across the two days, the Newton Network Launch concluded with productive discussions about funding. These pragmatic discussions, as well as connections made over the two days, suggest that many of the ideas generated over the workshop can be translated into promising further action and conversations.

The full programme for the event can be found here, and more information about the workshop and the wider project can be found here.

Me and my research: 

Thomas Tufte

Consortium on Emerging Directions in Audience Research (CEDAR) network

CEDAR: A 14 country AHRC network on the future of audiences in the face of digitisation

CEDAR (Consortium on Emerging Directions in Audience Research) is a fourteen country consortium made up of twenty-nine audience researchers, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2015-17). It is directed by Dr Ranjana Das of the School of Media, Communication and Sociology. The co-director is Dr Brita Ytre-Arne of the University of Bergen in Norway.

The network came together to map trends, gaps and priorities emerging over the past decade in the transforming field of audiences and audience studies. CEDAR asks – What has been so transformative about the past decade in audience research with the rise of social media and now the arrival of the Internet of Things? How can we move from current trends to a vision of the future of the field? To answer these questions, the network's research has undertaken a year-long analysis of emerging themes in the past decade of research about audiences. The network’s ongoing second phase of work involves a foresight analysis for the future of audiences in 2030. This consists of three distinct exercises – trend mapping, stakeholder consultations and scenario building. This is the first ever foresight analysis exercise in the 6 decade long history of academic audience studies.

The network has hosted events at Serbia, UK, Norway, Italy, Czech Republic and Portugal; and it has presented its findings in various countries. Some outputs are linked on this page. CEDAR’s final event is the Audiences2030 conference, 28-29 September, at Lisbon, and is co-hosted by the Catholic University of Lisbon and the Audience studies section of ECREA (which is chaired by Dr Das). The call for papers for this public conference is now open here (deadline March 30) - this promises to be an exciting event with invited talks from Profs Denis McQuail, Sonia Livingstone, Peter Lunt, Sylvia Harvey, Thomas Tufte, Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Pille Prullmann-Vengerfeldt and Martin Barker!

CEDAR looks forward to receiving lots of abstract submissions for this exciting event, where the team will present its findings and their Final Report.


New books

Mark Banks (2017) Creative Justice: Cultural Industries, Work and Inequality. London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Creative Justice examines issues of inequality and injustice in the cultural industries and the cultural workplace. It offers a state-of-the field account of thinking about cultural and creative industries work, education and employment, and seeks to address fundamental questions about the constitution of equality and inequality in the creative industries.

Bernhard Forchtner (2016) Lessons from the Past? Memory, Narrativity and Subjectivity. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

This book reconstructs how claims to know 'the lessons' from past wrongdoings are made useful in the present. It does so by conceptualising four rhetorics of learning and how each of them links memories of past wrongdoings to opposition to present and future wrongdoings, drawing extensively on narrative theory.

Athina Karatzogianni, D. Nguyen, and E. Serafinelli (eds.) (2016) The Digital Transformation of the Public Sphere: Conflict, Migration, Crisis and Culture in Digital Networks. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bringing together contributions from the fields of sociology, media and cultural studies, arts, politics, science and technology studies, political communication theory and popular culture studies, this volume engages both with theoretical debates and detailed empirical studies, showcasing how the public sphere is transformed by digital media, and in turn how this digital public sphere shapes and is shaped by debates surrounding crisis, conflict, migration and culture. Case studies from Bulgaria, Nigeria, China, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, UK, Mexico and India are discussed in detail.

Jilly Boyce Kay with C. Mahoney and C. Shaw (eds.) (2016) The Past in Visual Culture: Essays on Memory, Nostalgia and the Media. Jefferson: McFarland.

This collection of new essays contributes to the growing debates around the relationships between memory, media and nostalgia. It includes chapters by MCS researchers Kaitlynn Mendes, Jo Whitehouse-Hart, Helen Wood and Jilly Boyce Kay, as well as a wide range of other established and emerging scholars. Its diverse topics range from feminist 'counter-memories' of Slutwalk protests, television for women in the 1980s, memories of childhood viewing, and the central role of television in the National Space Centre in Leicester.

Kaitlynn Mendes (ed.) (2016) Gender and the Media (Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies). London and New York: Routledge.

This new four-volume collection enables users readily to access and make sense of the essential texts of gender-and-media scholarship. Volume I (‘Body Counts’) assembles research on women’s absence in a range of media from around the world. Volume II (‘Representing Gender’) gathers together crucial texts on gender representations and stereotypes in the media. Volume III (‘Gender and Media Uses’) brings together the best research which, rather than surveying what the media does to people, explores how they use, navigate, and contest it. The final volume (‘Occupational Status, Experience, and Ownership’) presents key research which seeks to examine where men and women are placed in media organizations, how they experience these positions, and what impact they might have on media content.

Journal articles and book chapters

Ipek Demir (2016) 'Rethinking Cosmopolitanism, Multiculturalism and Diaspora via the Diasporic Cosmopolitanism of Europe's Kurds' in John Narayan and Gurminder K. Bhambra (eds.) European Cosmopolitanisms: Colonial Histories and Postcolonial Societies, pp. 121-135.

Heidi Ashton and Mark Banks (2017) 'Step into the Zone: Career Dancers, Cultural Work and Intensity,' in T. Jordan, B. McClure & K. Woodward (eds.) Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being in the Zone. London and New York: Routledge.

Rice, Charis, and Ian Somerville, (2017) ‘Political contest and oppositional voices in post-conflict democracy: The impact of institutional design on government-media relations’, The International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(3) 360-381.

Giovanna Puppin (2017) 'Making Space for Emotions: Exploring China-Africa "Mediated Relationships" through CCTV-9's African Chronicles (Feizhou jishi 非洲纪事)'. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 29 (1): 131-174 (special issue on China-Africa Media Interactions: Media and Popular Culture Between Business and State Intervention).

Melanie Kennedy (2017) 'Miley Cyrus and the "murder" of Hannah Montana: authenticity and young female celebrity', in Jane O’Connor and John Mercer (eds) Childhood and Celebrity. London and New York: Routledge.

Natasha Whiteman (2016) 'Unsettling relations: Disrupting the ethical subject in fan studies research', Journal of Fandom Studies, 4(3): 307-324

Jilly Boyce Kay and Helen Wood (2016) 'Dreaming of the "good life": gender, mobility and anxiety in Wanted Down Under' in R. Moseley, H. Wheatley and H. Wood (eds.) Television for Women: New Directions. London and New York: Routledge.

Conferences, talks and papers

Leah Bassel was an invited speaker on the panel 'Saving Muslim women', responding to Leti Volpp. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, in collaboration with UC Berkeley. Göttingen, Germany, 16th December 2016.

Jessica Ringrose & Kaitlynn Mendes talked on 'Documenting Digital Feminist Activism: Girls and Women Fight Back Against Rape Culture' at the event #NotAskingForIt: Rape, Discourse and Media’ – Middlesex University, 23 February 2017.

Melanie Kennedy was invited speaker at the Film, Television and Media Studies research seminar series, University of East Anglia. She gave the paper "'Why try and be fake when being real takes less effort?' Authenticity, achieved celebrity, and young motherhood", 13th February 2017.

Giovanna Puppin gave the invited lecture 'The Confucius Icon in Chinese Commercial Advertising: a Semiotic Analysis of Two Case Studies', Department of Philosophy, Social Sciences and Education, University of Perugia, (Italy). 14th December 2016.

Ipek Demir gave the invited talk 'Diasporic Brokers', at Conceptualising Brokerage: Mediating Diversity, Migration and Development, Autonomous University of Barcelona, February 2017. She also spoke as part of a roundtable on 'The Practice of Public Sociology' at Manchester Digital Library, November 2016. 

Mark Banks gave the keynote talk 'Justice for Cultural Objects' at an event to launch the new Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University, March 8th 2017.

Anna Claydon and Jo Whitehouse-Hart presented their paper 'Overcoming the Battlefield of the Mind: An analysis of digital televangelists' at the 3rd International Conference on Media and Popular Culture in Leeds in January 2017.

Anna Claydon gave a talk at Canterbury Christchurch University on ‘The Creative Other: Disability and the Music Film’ in January 2017.

Jilly Boyce Kay gave a paper co-authored with Helen Wood entitled 'Reality television celebrity and illegitimate cultural labour' at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference, University of Sydney, December 2016.

Doctoral student in Sociology Iain Riddell gave the paper 'Anglican Zadokism: The usage of kin and kinship by latter Hanoverian church leadership' at the two-day workshop Genealogy and Social Status in the Enlightenment, hosted by the Maison Française d'Oxford, January 2017. 

A number of MCS colleagues presented their research at the annual MeCCSA conference, held in January 2017 at the University of Leeds.

Galina Miazhevich gave the paper 'Converging media and participatory politics in the post-Soviet context: Reactions to the construction of the largest Chinese technological park in Belarus'.

Mark Banks gave the papers 'Histories of cultural work: The long boom and creative opportunity' and 'Creative justice and cultural work', as part of two themed panels - on historical approaches to cultural work, and media and social justice respectively.

The pre-constituted panel 'Media celebrity, labour and value' included papers from MCS researchers Helen Wood ('Reality celebrity and illegitimate cultural labour'); Jilly Boyce Kay ('#Sponsored selves: reality celebrity and the labour of 'worklessness' on social media'); and Melanie Kennedy ('"People forget […] that we're actually human beings with feelings. They see characters versus real people": Authenticity, achieved celebrity, and young motherhood').

Jilly Boyce Kay also gave the paper 'Gender, television and voice: Women's talk on British television'. 

Event highlights

Understanding Brexit: Race, Class, and Citizenship

The School of Media, Communication and Sociology's first public seminar was held on Wednesday 22nd February, 2017. Professor Gurminder K. Bhambra (University of Warwick), a world-leading scholar of historical sociology, gave the talk 'Understanding Brexit: Race, Class, and Citizenship'. Dr Leah Bassel was the respondent, and the event was chaired by Dr Ipek Demir.

The seminar was extremely well attended by staff and students from across the University, as well as a significant number of members of the public. The next such public debate, 'Citizenship and Belonging in Unsettling Times' will take place on June 9th (further details in the News Round-up section below). 

                          CAMEo Craft Cultures

In November, and in conjunction with CAMEo and the Cultural Production & Consumption Research Group, Dr Jessica Bain (MCS) and Dr Jennifer Smith Maguire (SoB) hosted a week-long festival of events exploring the contemporary significance of craft. CAMEo Craft Cultures welcomed over 100 researchers, teachers, students, makers, artists and practitioners at a range of exciting events including a workshop on employment in the creative sector with local artist Ruth Singer, a public talk and hands-on craftivism workshop run by Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective, as well as two research networking events on craft textiles, and craft drinks. Our keynote event 'A Conversation on Craft Culture' saw us host Kate Fletcher, Susan Luckman and Nicola Thomas for a fascinating discussion on craft, fashion and sustainability at local creative 'hub' the LCB Depot

                                Transmedia musics

IDeoGRAMS (led by Anna Claydon) held a one-day conference on Transmedia Musics in Bankfield House in November 2016. A special issue of the journal The Soundtrack, edited by Anna, will be issued later in 2017 as a result of this event.

News round-up

Ipek Demir has been appointed as a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College until 2021.

Jessica Bain's writing on craftivism and the role of pussyhats in the global Women's Marches has appeared in the Conversation and in the Independent.

Leah Bassel's research with Prof Akwugo Emejulu (University of Warwick) on minority women's activism under austerity was cited in the Guardian article 'A toxic concoction means women of colour are hit hardest by austerity'.

Ipek Demir's article 'Brexit as a backlash against 'loss of privilege' and multiculturalism' was published in Discover Society Issue 41.

Jelena Dzakula's article 'Your next social network could pay you for posting' was published in the Conversation.

Melanie Kennedy, Jessica Bain and Jilly Kay of the Media and Gender research group have won a small grant from the College Teaching Development Fund to run a project on international students' experiences of feminist media studies at the University of Leicester. As part of the project, Professor Harriet Evans - a leading expert on gender and sexuality in China - is visiting the School on March 21st to talk to staff and students about the women's movement in China in transnational context.

Forthcoming events 

EMC2 - Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue, 24-26th March 2017.

Anna Claydon is organising an Arts Council funded participatory weekend (March 24-26th 2017) celebrating the Experimental Music Catalogue (and East Midlands' composers specifically) with CoMA (Contemporary Music for All, Anna runs the East Midlands branch) and De Montfort University (where many of the composers were originally based). There will be a number of talks by composers and academics, four concerts (one on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday) and the ability for those interested in experimental music to participate in two new commissions from Chris Hobbs and Hugh Shrapnel as well as to play Gavin Bryar’s 1,2,1,2,3,4. If you are interested on any level, email Anna Claydon at for further information and booking. All welcome.

'British Fascism and the Nation’, 17th May 2017

This Sociology Cluster's Belonging Research Group Seminar will feature Dr John Richardson (University of Loughborough, and Editor of Critical Discourse Studies) as a speaker, with Dr Bernhard Forchtner as respondent. It will be chaired by Dr Ipek Demir.
17 May 2017: 2.30-4pm, Bankfield House Lecture Theatre.

Public Debate: Citizenship and Belonging in Unsettling Times, 9th June 2017

In the context of Brexit, debates over citizenship, immigration and belonging have gained new urgency. This event will provide a unique opportunity for academics, migrant rights advocates, politicians and members of the public to explore these issues together. It will begin with a presentation of key findings from the Economic and Social Research Council-funded project 'The UK Citizenship Process: Exploring Immigrants' Experiences', in which University of Leicester-based academics explored migrants' lived experiences of the process of becoming citizens in London and Leicester. Speakers and members of the audience will then discuss issues of citizenship and belonging in Leicester, a city with its own unique history of migration, and beyond.

Confirmed speakers: Professor Bridget Anderson, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) University of Oxford; Zrinka Bralo, Chief Executive, Migrants Organise, London; Councillor Manjula Sood, Assistant City Mayor, Leicester City Council; Dr Leah Bassel, School of Media, Communication and Sociology, University of Leicester. This event is organised in collaboration with the Leicester Migration Network and DICE (Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement), University of Leicester.

Date and time: June 9th, 5.30-7.30pm. Location: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre.

'Sex, Power, Love and Money': Media and Sexualisation of Everyday in the Post-Soviet spaces’, 15th June 2017.

The workshop, co-organised by Galina Miazhevich, will deal with the topical issue of mediation of sexuality and its utilisation for various ends in the Russian Federation and the neighbouring states. By looking at recent TV series, talk shows, films, online narratives the workshop addresses the increasing mediatisation of the sex/uality in the region. The key note will be given by Professor  Feona Atwood and the discussion will be chaired by Professor Stephen Hutchings. Further details and CfP here.

CAMEo Conference: Mediating Cultural Work: Texts, Objects and Politics. 6th-8th September 2017.

This interdisciplinary conference focuses on how cultural work and production is mediated - in terms of text, image, discourse, narrative, policy, ideology and fantasy, as well as through technology, materially, and in objective form. Confirmed keynote speakers are Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths); Jack Linchuan Qiu (Chinese University of Hong Kong); and John Beck (Westminster) & Matthew Cornford (Brighton). More details and the CfP here.