Social Sciences


Professor John Downey MA (Cantab) PhD (Cantab)

Photo of Professor John Downey

Communication, Culture and Citizenship Research

Challenge Leader

John read Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University. He was a Senior Scholar at Gonville and Caius College and was the Graythorne Scholar and Beaumont Scholar at Jesus College. His PhD was about the Frankfurt School and John was a post-doc at the Graduate College for Communication Sciences at Siegen University in Germany. John came to the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough in 2000. He was a Visiting Professor of Sociology at Williams College, Massachusetts in 2007. John seeks to apply the work of the Frankfurt School to the study of media. As well as receiving funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for his research, he has engaged in work for the BBC Board of Governors, the BBC Trust, the Office of Communication, the Electoral Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Guardian newspaper. His research interests focus mainly on new media and on comparative media.

John’s research in recent years has tended to focus on international media or rather on comparative media: the comparison of media institutions and content across time and space. In 2006 he led a project for the BBC’s Governors analysing the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2012 he worked on a project for the BBC Trust examining the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring. His work seeks to develop the field of comparative media theoretically, methodologically and empirically. With Thomas Koenig he introduced the use of computer-aided analysis to large n frame analysis. With James Stanyer he introduced the use of fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to the study of media. His present research, with Peter Golding and Karen Williamson, compares the management of dissent across time and space during crises of capitalism.

John teaches primarily about new media at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has supervised eight doctoral students to completion and is currently supervising four more. He is able to supervise students in the fields of new media and international media.

  • Downey, J. & Stanyer, J. (2010) ‘Comparative Media Analysis: why some fuzzy thinking might help’ in European Journal of Communication 25: 331-347
  • Downey, J. Mihelj, S. and Konig, T. (forthcoming 2012) ‘Comparing Public Spheres: Normative Models and Empirical Measurements’ in European Journal of Communication.
  • Downey, J., Stephens, M. and Flaherty, J. (2012) ‘The Sluice-Gate Model of the Public and the national DNA database in the UK’ in Media, Culture, and Society 34(4) pp440-457.
  • Downey, J. & Mihelj, S. eds (2012) Central and Eastern European Media in Comparative Perspective, Ashgate: Aldershot.
  • Downey, J. (2012) ‘Transnational Capital, Media Differentiation, and Institutional Isomorphism in Central and Eastern European Media Systems’ in Downey, J. & Mihelj, S. eds (2012) Central and Eastern European Media in Comparative Perspective, Ashgate: Aldershot.