The Media, Policy and Culture group combines research in two major fields, media culture and media policy, which are studied in conjunction. The aim is to combine the analysis of media culture, i.e. the meanings, uses and interpretations attached to media products, with the analysis of media structure, i.e. the layout of the media market with its economic and political dynamics, its stakeholders and government policy. In this way, we aim to come to a richer, holistic and more complex understanding of media.
The work on media culture focuses on meanings in and of media content and on processes of media use. It considers media as important creators and articulators of contemporary culture, occupying a central position in everyday life. Broadly speaking, it combines the analysis of media representations and reception. In terms of representation, a wide range of issues are studied, including (collective) identity markers such as nation, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, but also societal phenomena such as celebrity culture, the environment, science and technology, politics, the economy and ethical consumption. Representations are studied as they are articulated in mediated discourses, ranging from television and film, to print, online and electronic media.
Linking representation to reception, issues of identity formation, democratic debate and citizenship in and through media are analysed, incorporating the manifold dimensions of these issues.
In terms of wider reception studies, this implies research into issues such as ethnic minority media use, (inter-)active ways of watching television, user analysis of gaming, digital co-creation, effectiveness of celebrity social profit endorsement, the role of parasocial interaction in fandom, and the de/politicized nature of audience discourses on climate change and ethical consumption. Studied in conjunction, processes of representation and reception allow for an integrated understanding of media and their cultural impact.
Media Policy Studies
The work on media policy studies dynamics of media ownership and control and processes of policy- and decision-making, drawing on the rich tradition of political economy. Our research group focuses mostly on mass media policies and their structural-economic background, in particular with regards to public service broadcasting (PSB).
Other interests include processes of commercialisation, digitisation, convergence and globalisation that question current media models and imply a shift in the locus of power from producers to consumers. This policy and political economy research is international in scope, both by looking at media policies in other countries and by transnational comparisons.
In all this, the group is committed to study contemporary phenomena in their historical, cultural and international context.
Our research group incorporates multi-method research using mixed methods and triangulation, with a focus on - but not restricted to - qualitative and interpretive methods in order to accomplish the abovementioned holistic view on media. A range of methods is used, including in-depth, focus group and oral history interviews, photo elicitation and increasingly surveys as well as quantitative and qualitative content analysis, document analysis, framing analysis and critical discourse analysis. Rather than sticking to a limited range of methods, every research project starts from a quest for the optimal method(s) that provide(s) the most reliable and valid answer to a specific research question.
In each case, we aim to combine a social scientific focus on rigorous, systematic and empirically based research with a more humanities-oriented cultural and media studies focus on interpretation and deep understanding through critical analysis. With cultural studies, our research shares a constructivist view on reality as socially and culturally constructed, emphasising the discursive nature of media, analysing discourses in and on media and processes of interpretation and meaning production.
Overall, while the research agenda of the Media, Policy and Culture research group appears eclectic, it is based in shared paradigmatic views on the relationships between media, individuals and society. As such, the holistic, social constructivist and primarily interpretive approach to issues of media culture and policy is a common thread throughout the diverse activities of our research group. At the same time, the diversity of topics enables our researchers to explore a wide range of issues in different domains of media and communication studies. This eclecticism is reflected in the publications of members of the research group Media, Policy & Culture, who have contributed to the literature in a variety of scholarly fields, including television and film studies, public service broadcasting and wider policy studies, identity and social diversity, celebrity studies, LGTB studies, audience reception studies, game studies, journalism studies, new media studies and environment, science and risk communication.