Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


CRCC Seminar Series

Semester 1 2016/17 programme

5/10/16 Mats Ekstrom, University of Gothenburg ‘Negotiating political credibility: Media talk in times of popular scepticism’ & ‘News interviews with David Cameron and Nigel Farage in the 2014 EUP election campaign’ (with DARG)


Negotiating political credibility: Media talk in times of popular scepticism’ & Data Session ‘News interviews with David Cameron and Nigel Farage in the 2014 EUP election campaign

The trust/distrust of the political elite is a key issue in contemporary political discourse. The centrality of political trust in democracy is obviously not a new phenomenon. However, two general trends seem to shape not least the recent election campaigns across Europe. First, the foregrounding of personality, performative style and credibility in mediated politics. Second, the more fundamental problems of political legitimacy and the discourses of popular skepticism most clearly manifested in the rise and success of populist parties.

In this talk, I relate to previous discourse- and conversation analytical research on media talk (e.g. Clayman and Heritage, 2002; Tolson, 2006; Montgomery, 2007; Ekström and Patrona, 2011) and discuss how political credibility and popular distrust is invoked, articulated and negotiated in genres of media talk such as political interviews, vox pops, and journalist commentaries. I take the advantage of a corpus of broadcast data from the EU parliament election campaign in 2014, collected in a cross-national study (covering UK, Sweden, Greece, France and Italy). This talk will mainly focus on the UK, with some comparative examples and references to other countries.

Based on concrete examples, I will show how different aspects of credibility are articulated and negotiated; such as knowledgeability, reliability (e.g. doing what you promise to do), and popular understanding (proximity/gap). The role of journalism is analyzed in relation to practices of interviewing, the recontextualizations of the voices of ordinary people, and how journalism in the particular style of reporting relates to a populist appeal to the people.

The analyses are contextualized in relation to a more general question of how the media discourse contributes to alternative understandings of the election campaigns; (1) the elections as routine events inviting people to evaluate and take a stand on policy alternatives, and (2) the election as an event of disruption and popular skepticism.

19/10/16 Simone Natale, Loughborough University Book presentation: 'Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture' (MACH)


Book presentation: 'Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture' (MACH)

"Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture" (Penn State University Press, 2016) investigates how beliefs in spiritualism intersected with the emergence of the media entertainment industry in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Drawing from archival research on the British and American spiritualist movement, it shows that spiritualist mediums and leaders employed advertising strategies, performative practices, and spectacular techniques that were being developed in spectacular entertainments. The book provides an archaeology of how the supernatural entered into the core of contemporary media culture, from cinema to television, from radio to new media, from comics to video games, challenging the boundary between religion and entertainment. More information here.

26/10/16 Anne Gorsuch, University of British Columbia 'Sex, Race, and Revolution: Cuba in Soviet Media and Memory'


'Sex, Race, and Revolution: Cuba in Soviet Media and Memory'

"This talk explores the longings, desires, and anxieties underpinning the early Soviet-Cuban relationship. It focuses on the place of Cuba in Soviet media – print, television, film – but also considers the cross-cultural experience of Soviet and Cuban citizens traveling for love, work, and education. The dominant metaphor of the relationship in the early 1960s was passion, a Soviet romantic passion for the Cuban revolution and a concomitant nostalgia for an idealized Soviet past. There was also mistrust and perceived danger. This was particularly evident in Soviet discourses about the gendered and racialized Cuban body, including the virile Cuban man, the consumptive pleasures of sex associated with Cuban women, and the impoverished black body believed to be in special need of Soviet assistance. It was in the realm of sexuality, as well as in norms and experiences concerning race, that Cuba most challenged Soviet expectations, values, and modes of expression. The project intervenes in three historiographical conversations: the history of late socialism; the history of the global 1960s; and the history of relations between the Soviet Union and the Third World."

2/11/16 Nicolas Moreau, University of Ottawa ‘Olympic to Amateurism: When Sports Become Resistance’


Olympic to Amateurism: When Sports Become Resistance

"Whether practiced recreationally or competitively, or used by social workers or by coaches for social development and inclusion, sports can be a very interesting psychosocial tool (improving health, cooperation, inclusion, openness, etc.) but, conversely, they can also harmful (doping, aggressive behavior, violence, etc.). Therefore, how can we explain that some athletes thrive in sports, while others are struggling with suffering and defeatism? How can sport be an agent of social transformation? Despite the singularity of each athlete, we believe that a number of elements (coach’s expertise and session content, for example) are required in order to transform sports into a psychosocial tool.

That's what we try to demonstrate by presenting the results of a qualitative study of vulnerable Canadian youths who participated in a Sport Plus intervention program. We will see that youths have identified a number of principles, which are necessary to transform sports into a tool for social change, and to develop what we have called “sport-resistance”.

9/11/16 Mark Monaghan, Loughborough University ‘What Happened To Evidence-Based Policy Making? The Case of UK Drugs Policy’


What Happened To Evidence-Based Policy Making? The Case of UK Drugs Policy

"In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum and the emerging (renewed) suspicion of ‘experts’ it created, it is difficult to imagine that for a while the concept of ‘evidence-based policy’ was a la mode. In the UK, under the New Labour Government (1997-2010), evidence-based policy was encapsulated by the stated desire for policy making not to be driven by outdated ideologies, but by the pragmatic search for ‘what works’.

The arbiter of whether a programme or policy was deemed to ‘work’ was if ex post or ex ante tests using Randomised Controlled Trial designs or rigorous ‘systematic reviews’ of the evidence deemed it so. Almost from the outset, this view of policy making attracted criticism as being overtly positivist and instrumentally rational. Not only that, it became increasingly apparent that the pragmatic search for ‘what works’ was not extended to all policy domains especially those characterised by non-trivial degrees of politicisation.

These are policy areas where there is intense media scrutiny of decision-making, a prolonged sense of crisis and where powerful constituencies need to be appeased. In such circumstances, policy-based evidence was seen to be a more accurate reflection of the evidence and policy connection. This paper considers the fortunes of evidence-based policy in one such area; the ‘critical case’ of UK illicit drugs policy. It considers the role of evidence in decisions to reschedule cannabis in the last decade, but also considers, drawing on various examples, the current politics of evidence-based policy making and the strategies that evidence-producers may adopt to get their voices heard in policy when the policy context is perhaps not as amenable to research as it was back in the 1990s."

16/11/16 Andreas Wittel, Nottingham Trent University 'Alienation in Digital Capitalism'


"Alienation in Digital Capitalism"

Alienation is a concept in political economy that did not feature prominently over the last three or four decades. Even now, with the more recent rise of interest in Marxist theory the concept of alienation has not attracted much attention. This paper makes a case to revisit alienation in the age of digital capitalism. It begins with an introduction of the four types of alienation as outlined in Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. It then revisits alienation theory in the Frankfurt School. The third part of the paper examines alienation in immaterial labour. The final parts is an attempt to rethink alienation as species-being for the age of digital capitalism.

23/11/16 Tom Thurnell-Read, Loughborough University 'Serious Leisure, Consumer Protest and the Campaign for Real Ale' (CAMRA)


Serious Leisure, Consumer Protest and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)

Since its formation in 1971, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has been a frequent, if at times contentious and often derided, voice in debates relating to British drinking culture, the drinks industry and, by association, contemporary leisure. Throughout its existence, CAMRA has provided a means for participants to voice fears and dissatisfaction with corporate globalisation and to imagine alternative consumption practices informed by ideas of tradition, craft, locality and community. Drawing on Stebbins’ notion of ‘serious leisure’, the presentation will detail how involvement in CAMRA as a consumer movement and social network provides participants with a means for expressing both personal identity and a collective orientation to contemporary developments relating to the commercialisation, rationalisation and regulation of leisure and consumption. Further, it is suggested that important changes in the materials, meanings and competencies of Real Ale consumption mean a more complex ‘intellectualised’ form of beer appreciation has emerged over recent years. Such is used to illustrate how cultural tastes and practices become ‘gentrified’, and it is argued that specific beer consumption practices associated with beer connoisseur have become subjected to upward social mobility in becoming more complex and refined meaning they now function more readily as markers of social status and distinction.


7/12/16 Richard Bramwell, Loughborough University (with LUNN) 'Performing Hip-Hop Englishness: Place, race, masculinity and the role of rap in the performance of Alternative British identities'.


Performing Hip-Hop Englishness: Place, race, masculinity and the role of rap in the performance of Alternative British identities”. 

This paper examines the role of rap culture in two youth centres, an arts charity and a high security prison. Whereas blacks make up roughly 3% of the general population, they constitute 15% of the prisoner population in England and Wales. Despite decades on unequal outcomes for black and ethnic minority groups within the criminal justice system, the social experiences and aesthetic practices of black Britons has been largely overlooked within prison sociology. This paper draws on twelve months of fieldwork in English social and penal institutions in order to examine the construction of identity by young adults through rap music. Through a combination of participant observation, interviews and the close textual analysis of rap lyrics, this paper investigates how black men come to terms with their marginalisation in mainstream society, how they negotiate their identities through the black public sphere, and respond to their conditions of incarceration in prison through this oral-poetic form. The paper critically engages with how youth centres and prisons attempt to produce citizen subjects through the provision of music education programmes and the censorship of particular types of rap lyrics. Through an examination of the pedagogical practices and the social and aesthetic judgements made about rap lyrics by youth workers and prison educators, this paper highlights the aesthetic devaluation of rap that takes place even as social and penal institutions recognise the potential instrumental value of engaging with marginalised groups through this art form.

14/12/16 (MACH) Peter Yeandle ‘The Spectacle of the Boer War on Stage, Screen, and in Song: a multi-media tour of London’s entertainment industries’


"The Spectacle of the Boer War on Stage, Screen, and in Song: a multi-media tour of London’s entertainment industries

Several important studies have demonstrated the vital role of the illustrated press in disseminating information to the public about developments in the second south African war. Indeed: witness the rush of the press to publish war correspondents’ accounts and to illustrate events through cartoon, artists’ impressions, and photographs. Newspapers sought not only to convey knowledge, but to influence public opinion – to the extent that several political historians argue that the jingoism unleashed by war reporting meant the general election of 1900 (the so-called ‘Khaki’ election) could conceivably be described as a referendum on foreign policy. We know the Conservatives and Unionists won. However, we also know from a variety of contemporary accounts that the press was only one factor in the creation of patriotic fervour in response to the war (especially around the reliefs of sieges at Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith). These accounts cite the theatres, the music halls - and other arenas for mass spectacle and entertainment - as crucial to the promotion of patriotism. The vast array of performance industries in turn of the century London propagated popular imperialism far more widely than print culture alone. By undertaking a tour of London’s performance venues, indoors and out, this paper tests out two ideas: first, that the immersive experience of performance culture itself merits analysis as a vital genre of broadcasting; second, that the study of the interrelationships of print and performance cultures enables us to think about the abstract concept of patriotism from within the context of histories of emotion. 

11/01/17 Burce Celik, Loughborough University in London (MACH) 'Struggles of Independence: Politics of Communicational Infrastructure in Turkey Between Two World Wars'


Struggles of Independence: Politics of Communicational Infrastructure in Turkey Between Two World Wars”.

Infrastructures are loci of power where forms of disparities are physically and politically constituted. In particular, communicational infrastructures are sites of the global domination of central powers, as well as of social stratification in a national context. By focusing on the history of communicational infrastructure at the periphery of Europe between the two World Wars, I will discuss how telecommunications infrastructures have been sites of the struggle between European imperialism and Turkish nationalism, between laissez-faire and statist policies, as well as between an exploitive capitalist modernity and authoritarian state-run policies of modernity.