Through his research Bart Cammaerts has established a world leading reputation in the field of media and communication studies, and more specifically in the specialist sub-fields of alternative media and political communication. His research is interdisciplinary and it is informed by his commitment to building intellectual bridges between the discipline of political science and the field of media and communication studies. He achieved this, on the one hand, by introducing political and democratic theory into media and communication studies, and, on the other, by introducing theoretical approaches within the media and communications field to research in the sub-field concerned with the study of social movements and political contention.
A recurrent theme in his research considers the dialectic interactions between dichotomies and analytical categories such as alternative/mainstream, new/old media, public/private, symbolic/material, production/reception rather than emphasising one side over and above another. His empirical and theoretical contributions situate themselves in four areas: 1) media and communication policies at the national and international level and the role of civil society actors in shaping these policies, 2) alternative media as a space of resistance, which can be progressive, but also reactionary 3) the various roles media and communications play for social movements and contentious politics, and 4) social change, politics and hegemony. With regard to methodologies he has consistently combined quantitative methods, such as surveys and content analysis, with qualitative methods, such as interviews, focus groups and critical discourse analysis.
Regarding future research he intends to deepen his analysis on the relationship between media, communication and social change. This will involve historical research into the role of
media and communications for protest movements of the past. He will also address the question to which extent the centrality of media and communication in our digital age has altered the ontology of a social movement. Finally, he also plans to investigate the extent to which studies of media (content, representation) and communication (processes and material infrastructures) can engage productively with each other especially in view of clarifying the role of regulation in a digital age.