Research Excellence

Communication and Culture Beacon

Communication in contemporary society has never been so contentious. From increasingly divisive and polarised political discourse to the ways in which marginalised groups are represented, the tone and quality of communication in public life is being increasingly scrutinised. At the same time technological changes have transformed interpersonal communication and role of media in everyday life. From the analysis of formal political communication to the micro-contexts in which media are used, our world leading research addresses some of the most pressing social challenges in public culture and everyday experience.

Beacon activity reaches across the whole of Loughborough University, with the majority of work being aligned with the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) and the Communication and Media Unit in the School of Social Sciences and the Humanities, and the Institute for Media and Creative Industries (IMCI) on our London campus.

STRENGTHS for 2019/20

Digital Media and Society

Digital media and the continuing development of networked technologies have pervaded and transformed every area of personal and public life. From the ways in which artificial intelligence is transforming social care to the role of social media in political participation, our analyses of these changes and develop interventions that foster socially progressive uses of these digital technologies and online platforms. Our research provides global perspectives on the role of the digital in social life including the ways in which digital technologies can be used to foster social change in the global south, their role in political culture in Eastern Europe and their role in processes of migration and mobility.


Media and Cultural Organisations and Infrastructures

Media organisations have long been recognised as wielding considerable social, cultural and political influence. Our research seeks to understand the changing nature of this power and the ways in which it is articulated under changing historical conditions. Our research in this area ranges from the assessment of impartiality in public service broadcasting to the international comparative analysis of media systems. We explore the ways in which value is produced in and through cultural institutions and the ways in which global digital infrastructures enable and foster new and emerging forms of cultural practice and social engagement.


Communication, Democracy and Civic Life

Historically understood as the fourth estate, the press and more recently digital media organisations of are cornerstones of civic life in liberal democracies. With the rise in populist politics and the intensification of challenges to conventional modes of government and civic participation, the analysis of political communication has never been more pressing. Our research in this area builds on a long tradition of research into election reporting, but it also addresses practices of news consumption and its relationship to civic participation and the increasing  role of social media in the emergence of new forms of civic culture. We also investigate the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in these emerging forms of culture, the extent to which gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality shape the nature and extent of participation in public life, and the kinds of civic identities that are produced under these conditions.



Our methodological diversity is one of our longstanding strengths. We use a range of methods which span the social sciences and humanities. Our world-renowned discourse analysis research group works at the cutting edge of conversation science. We are continually evolving digital methods including big data methods, network analysis and digital tools for measuring the significance of trends and patterns in communication data. We use both qualitative and quantitative approaches to analysing media content and our research with media publics ranges from large surveys, in-depth ethnographic work and the development of arts-based methods. We have a particular strength in historical analysis and memory studies methods as well as in comparative approaches to media analysis. 


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