Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


CRCC Seminar Series

Semester 2 2017 programme

08/02/2017 CRCC Symposium: “Web Anonymity: Right or Threat?”


CRCC Symposium: “Web Anonymity: Right or Threat?”

Whenever we navigate the Web, we leave a trace of our movements through our IP address, which can in turn be used to establish our identity - for instance, by cross-checking it with a user’s Internet subscription. By using software such as VPN and Tor, however, it is possible to avoid leaving such traces, becoming anonymous in the web.

A lively debate among policy-makers, security professionals, hacker communities, and human rights associations has recently ensued regarding the question if such anonymity is acceptable and in which form. On the one side, advocates of online anonymity point to the right to privacy and the potential risks of an ever-reaching surveillance state; on the other side, its antagonists emphasize the presence of close links between anonymity and criminal activities online.

This half-day symposium aims to encourage dialogue between scholars, institutions, stakeholders, and the wider community about an issue of web governance that will be of crucial importance in the next years in order to build the civic society of the information age.

15/02/2017 Marco Pino, Loughborough University "Talking about dying: how palliative medicine doctors give patients and their companions opportunities to discuss end of life"


Talking about dying: how palliative medicine doctors give patients and their companions opportunities to discuss end of life

Part of the recent debate around dying has centred on patients’ rights to discuss preferences for end of life care and make advance decisions (preferred place of death and orders to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation being two notable examples). This has led to the recommendation that health professionals give patients opportunities to discuss feelings and thoughts about dying as part of the broader agenda of enabling people to prepare for a dignified death. This is not entirely uncontroversial as some argue that, by going down this road, medicine is extending its influence to a domain (discussing thoughts and feelings about dying) that has previously been confined to more private or elective relationships. If we translate this debate into the everyday business of managing clinical work, we can start appreciating how health professionals are regularly faced with a dilemma. They are accountable for initiating EoL discussions with their patients, but they have to do so in ways that are sensitive to each patient’s willingness, readiness, and ability to engage in this type of conversation.

The study presented here took a conversation analytic approach to how doctors go about the practical business of engaging patients and their companions in talk about dying. This is based on 14 conversations between palliative medicine consultants, terminally ill patients, and their companions, which we audio-visually recorded in an English hospice. By illustrating different communication practices that the doctors use to promote EoL talk, we will show how they manage an inherent tension: promoting the topic of dying while avoiding being seen as pushing the patients to engage in this type of conversation. The doctors’ solution to this problem is to systematically create conversational slots where the patients can volunteer talk about dying, rather than overtly solicit it.

The study (led by Ruth Parry) was the result of a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the LOROS hospice.

Marco Pino studies provider-user communication in health and social care settings using the methodological approach of conversation analysis. He holds a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University.

22/02/2017 Jeremy Taylor (Nottingham) “Films, songs or fountain pens': Colonial responses to mainland Chinese media in Britain's East Asian empire”


Films, songs or fountain pens': Colonial responses to mainland Chinese media in Britain's East Asian empire

In this paper, I will examine late colonial responses to mainland Chinese media in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong in the 1950s. In doing so, I will be examining the very different approaches adopted by colonial administrations in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and explore how these differences led to tensions between these two ends of the British colonial presence in East Asia, especially given the use by Mao's China of Hong Kong as the main distribution point for pro-communist Chinese language media throughout the British empire and beyond.

Central to my argument is the point that all colonial administrations found it difficult to categorise or even define Chinese 'propaganda', especially from 1954 onwards. While attempts were being made to foster a 'Malayan Chinese' identity both by the British and by local groups such as the Malayan Chinese Association, administrators bemoaned the fact that various groups in Malaya and Singapore continued to favour virtually anything that was 'made in China' -- be these 'films, songs or fountain pens' -- over that which was being produced for local consumption by ethnic Chinese writers, filmmakers and musicians in the same period. The paper thus aims to bring colonial Hong Kong (and by extension the PRC) back into the story of decolonisation in 1950s Malaya and Singapore, but also to raise new questions about the notion of an organic and gradually evolving 'Malayan Chinese identity' in late colonial Southeast Asia.

The paper is based on work I am currently undertaking as part of a British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Project, and is based on archival material from the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Jeremy E. Taylor is an associate professor in Modern Asian History at the University of Nottingham. 

01/03/2017 Sarah Mills (LUNN) "From Big Society to Shared Society? Geographies of social cohesion and citizenship in the UK’s National Citizen Service"


"From Big Society to Shared Society? Geographies of social cohesion and citizenship in the UK’s National Citizen Service"

This paper explores debates on the geographies of social cohesion, mixing and encounter, specifically in relation to young people and informal citizenship training. It uses the example of ‘National Citizen Service’ – a youth programme operating in England and Northern Ireland – to raise critical questions about the wider politics of spaces of informal education and attempts by the state to ‘make’ citizens.  The paper examines how ideas about community cohesion were part of the rationale for this growing scheme, targeted at 15-17 year olds and designed to foster a “more cohesive, responsible and engaged society”. Drawing on original ESRC-funded fieldwork with key architects, stakeholders and young people involved in the programme, the paper analyses the narratives of security that underlie NCS and its expansion, as well as exploring the idea of ‘social mix’ as one of NCS’ guiding principles. Overall, the paper critically examines the relationship between ideas of ‘good citizenship’ and being a ‘good neighbour’ in the shifting and contested policy landscape of the ‘Big Society’, and the recent advent of the ‘Shared Society’.

08/03/2017 Ferenc Gyuris (ELTE, Budapest) “The Political Discourse of Spatial Disparities”


“The Political Discourse of Spatial Disparities”

Scientific attempts to analyse, manage and morally evaluate socio-spatial inequality never take place in a sealed container, but in specific social, political, economic and geographical contexts. Likewise, related ideas are no ‘objective’ products of ‘neutral’ and ‘unbiased’ scientists, but works of full-fledged human beings with multifaceted political interests. Therefore, the point of my paper is to present the academic practice of dealing with geographical inequality as making contributions to a political discourse, where justifying certain political and economic interests (and de-legitimising others) is at least as important as a complex and solid understanding of what socio-spatial inequality actually is and how its various forms come into being. I aim to discuss how the functioning of this political discourse influences whether socio-spatial inequality is problematised or not; why it attracts more attention in certain ages and at certain locations than in others (e.g., communism and capitalism); how ‘relevant’ questions and methods are selected; how beliefs and hypotheses become regarded as facts and substantiated results are ignored according to underlying political motivations; and how remarkably one-sided concepts are presented, and applied later by many, as valid. I mainly employ Cold War examples from US-dominated Western academia from an East Central European view.

Dr Ferenc Gyuris
Ph.D. (Heidelberg)
Assistant professor, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest, Hungary

15/03/2017 John Richardson (Loughborough) “What is being 'remembered' in British Holocaust commemoration? (And why?) A work in progress”


What is being 'remembered' in British Holocaust commemoration? (And why?) A work in progress

Remembrance and commemoration simultaneously invoke the past, present and future. They entail communication processes wherein people, events and stories of the past are recalled, retold and recontextualized in the present - frequently to engender a better/safer future society. The processes by which certain narratives of the past come to prominence over others, how we are to understand them and how to understand ourselves in relation to these pasts, are matters of deep social significance.

I am currently researching Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in Britain since 2002. Specifically, I am interested in examining both mass mediated commemoration since 2002 (and the ways this may have changed) and the ways that ordinary people engage with local remembrance activities.  I will be interviewing organisers of HMD events and representatives of the HMD Trust, to examine peoples' motivation in organising events themselves to commemorate victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Mass mediated texts will be analysed using a combination of quantitative and critical multimodal discourse analytic methods, and commemorative ceremonies will be approached as an example of multi-genre epideictic rhetorical oratory. This paper presents my work in progress.

22/03/2017 Marcus Collins (Loughborough) "A Permissive Society? Opinion Polls and Social Change in Postwar Britain"


"A Permissive Society? Opinion Polls and Social Change in Postwar Britain"

When (if ever) did Britain become a ‘permissive society’? Were the ‘cultural revolution’ confined to the young, the middle class and the metropolitan? These questions have been a matter of debate within academic and popular circles ever since the 1960s, but remain fundamentally unresolved due to the source materials deployed. Those who identify a ‘cultural revolution’ largely base their arguments on canonical cultural artefacts of the period (music, films, writings, fashions). Revisionists such as Dominic Sandbrook either point to a series of other cultural artefacts that provide a more conservative view of the sixties or else contrast a minority permissive ‘culture’ with a broader ‘society’ displaying stronger continuities with the earlier twentieth century.

This paper addresses these issues by examining the attitudes and beliefs exhibited by representative samples of the British population in opinion polls. Drawing upon polls conducted by Gallup, MORI and the BBC Audience Research Unit covering the period from 1945 to 1990, it argues that public attitudes towards permissiveness (broadly defined as a libertarian stance towards social and cultural norms) varied widely from issue to issue and across different sections of the population. There was a shift towards more acceptance of individual self-governance, particularly regarding heterosexual sexuality and relationships. Yet most people were still not prepared to sanction behaviours which they perceived to disrupt the stability of society. What united such disparate issues as pornography, illicit drug-taking, unregulated immigration, murder in the absence of capital punishment and male homosexuality with the advent of HIV/AIDS was the perceived damage caused by individual behaviour on others. Even when critical of permissive change, the majority did perceive such change as having taken place. In that sense, opinion polls suggest that people in postwar Britain tended to believe that they belonged to a ‘permissive society’ that they opposed in many crucial respects.

29/03/2017 Liesbet van Zoonen "Good music for good sex"


"Good music for good sex

Public debate and academic research about young people and sex tend to be framed in terms of sexualization or pornification', both forms of 'bad' sex with supposedly negative effects on the sexuality of girls and boys alike. Our research asks the opposite question How do young people define, experience and conduct 'good sex'? While our methods are diverse and include party observations, social media analysis and mass observatory methods, we will specifically talk about our 'music voice' project, showing how young people actively use music to express and experience good sex.

03/05/2017 Yingzi Wang "Prime-Time Chinese TV Dramas in the Era of Entertainment"


"Prime-Time Chinese TV Dramas in the Era of Entertainment"

Following the market reforms in the 1990s, Chinese television has become increasingly driven by ratings and stepped up its production of popular entertainment. While the television is still a useful instrument for Party propaganda, the party-state began to encourage using popular formats to propagate political agendas and treat TV dramas as an important site of ideological persuasion. From a longitudinal perspective, this chapter examines how TV drama has contributed to promoting official agenda, and explores the extent to which state-owned television stations have departed from the propaganda route and focused on entertainment. By adopting quantitative content analysis, I looked at the main themes in prime-time dramas aired on CCTV-1 and Hunan Satellite TV from 1992 to 2015. The results show that CCTV-1, as the central channel, remains the key site in disseminating the Party’s wills; but increasingly, it shows more interest in screening audience-favoured themes. On the other platform, Hunan TV has been granted a large degree of programming autonomy, merely with the requirements to comply with propaganda on certain occasions. This suggests that the propaganda and entertainment processes via television become increasingly intertwined with each other.

10/05/2017 Elizabeth Edwards (Leicester/Oxford) Photographs, monuments and making 'public histories': Britain, 1850-1930"


"Photographs, monuments and the making of public histories in Britain 1850-1950"

This paper argues that photography played a central role in establishing historical sites as 'important monuments' to be preserved for the public good. I examine the visual strategies and patterns of photographic production and dissemination that both cohered a sense of historical topography and produced monuments as ‘documents of the nation’s past’ under state ownership.

12/05/2017 Dr Artur Bajerski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań) "Central European universities in the early 20th century: The migration of scientists, students and institutions"


"Central European universities in the early 20th century: The migration of scientists, students and institutions"

The nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century were of key importance for the development of universities and tertiary education in Central Europe. On the one hand, the existing, already ”old” universities were reorganised according to the ideas of the Humboldtian university model; on the other hand—especially after the end of World War I and along with the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—, numerous new universities emerged in the countries that had gained independence, resulting in a dynamic growth of student numbers.

This lecture aims to complement historical research on the development of Central European universities by stressing the fundamental importance of a geographical perspective for achieving a fuller understanding of how tertiary education in Central Europe evolved in the first decades of the twentieth century. Based on a case study of interwar Poland, I will discuss (1) directions and dynamics in the migration of academics to the newly established universities; (2) changes in the rank of individual universities associated with the above; (3) the development of academic regions, related to the migration of students; and (4) the migration of institutions, perceived from two perspectives, namely ideas for the reorganization of science and tertiary education and the relocation of universities themselves (i.e. their relocation between cities and countries following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

The theoretical background will be provided by two concepts: Braudelian longue durée and Progogine's dissipative structures. These ideas allow for a research focus on ‘sustainability’ and ‘change’, and to answer the following key question: in what dimensions of tertiary education was the influence of Braudelian long duration structures visible and what was their impact on the discussed changes in the first decades of the twentieth century?

17/05/2017 Joy Jie Shao "China’s State Media Going Global: China, Soft Power and the International Arena"


"China’s State Media Going Global: China, Soft Power and the International Arena"

On 1 January 2017, the international arm of China Central Television Station (CCTV News) has rebranded as China Global Television Network (CGTN). The change of name is an indicator of the complexity of China’s ‘Go global’ media strategy, which indicates the continued importance of ‘Go global’ strategy for the Chinese state and the problems it has faced in pursuing this strategy. Launched with great fanfare in 2009, with billions RMB invested into the ‘Big Four’ Chinese state media: Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, China Daily and China Radio International, ‘Go global’ can be seen as a distinctive effort to strengthen and extend China’s soft power, which was designed by Chinese government to convey China’s perspective, increase its global visibility and influence and consequently favour China.

The paper examined the implementation of the strategy in the different world regions in different periods. And it seeks to map the strategy and establish the progress, scale and scope of the strategy. Based on official documents and interviews with those involved in the ‘go global’ strategy, this paper argues, although it is certain that Chinese state media has taken advantage of the strategy to transform from the biggest propaganda machine into multifaceted global news providers, the answers to the bigger questions about China’s soft power – How possible that China’s state media could be successfully rebranded as an alternative to the dominant Western voice presenting Chinese definitions and interpretations of issues and events, given the prevailing global perception of them as CPC’s mouthpiece lack of credibility? Will ‘Go global’ strategy boost China’s national image? – are uncertain.

24/05/2017 Karen Lumsden and Alex Black “Have you packed your bags yet?” EU migrants’ experiences of hate crime in Lincolnshire, England post Brexit vote


“Have you packed your bags yet?” EU migrants’ experiences of hate crime in Lincolnshire, England post Brexit vote

Hate crimes against migrant populations have increased leading up to, and in the wake of, Brexit – the referendum concerning UK membership in the European Union. A Home Office report published in October 2016 revealed an increase of 41% (compared to the same month in the previous year) in the number of racially or religiously aggravated crimes recorded by police in England and Wales following the EU referendum. Other strands of hate crime (i.e. sexual orientation, disability, transgender identity) also saw increases between 2014/15 and 2015/16. Work by the Institute of Race Relations (2010) also demonstrates how the geography of racist hate crimes in the UK has changed in recent years moving from predominantly large urban areas (with long histories of racial tensions) into rural areas, towns and smaller cities. The scope of racist hate crime has also changed to include the targeting of asylum seekers, migrant workers, and foreign nationals. This paper presents preliminary findings from a qualitative study of EU migrants’ experiences of hate crime in Lincolnshire, England, post Brexit vote. Lincolnshire recorded the highest leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum with over 75% of voters in the town of Boston voting to leave (BBC, 2016). Boston is also home to the highest concentration of EU migrants after London (Chakelian, 2016). The findings focus on community relations and tensions, victims’ experiences of racism and hate (in the workplace and public spaces), identity and markers of difference, and the normalization of racism.

21/06/2017 Stephen Pihlaja, Newman University 'Dear Mr Muslim, Dear Mr atheist: Positioning in evangelical social media discourse' (with DARG)


'Dear Mr Muslim, Dear Mr atheist: Positioning in evangelical social media discourse'

The internet and social media sites offer access to diverse audiences, but for religious users, conflict can occur when attempting to make videos which are viewed by communities of believers who share the same faith, at the same time as users who are openly hostile to their beliefs. This presentation focuses on a discourse analysis of interaction among Christians, atheists, and Muslims on YouTube. I present a case study of responses to one Evangelical Christian Facebook preacher, Joshua Feuerstein, by a Muslim YouTuber and an atheist YouTuber, using a corpus of 67 video pages (including 6 hours and 47 minutes of talk and 60,888 comments). My analysis shows how user interaction, particularly hostile interaction around issues faith and belief, is affected in online contexts. I focus on three main findings. First, given the open nature of public social media interaction, users are compelled to respond to a broader social context and this engagement requires some adaptation at least in the presentation of belief. Second, the content and themes of the arguments are not especially unique and are the result of ongoing interaction among people of different faiths. Third, talk about religious issues which is driven by and oriented towards popular personalities did not seem to support the growth of tangible affiliation among users or communities.

Stephen Pihlaja is Reader in Stylistics at Newman University (Birmingham). Stephen is interested in the use of language in religious interaction, in both online and offline contexts, particularly descriptions of and arguments about religious experience and expression among Evangelical Christians, Muslims, and atheists. His book ‘Religious Talk Online: the evangelical discourse of Muslims, Christians, and atheists’ is forthcoming on Cambridge University Press.