Professor Chouliaraki's main interest is in media ethics, broadly understood as the moral implications of mediated communication in contemporary public life. She has published extensively on the nature of mediated public discourse, particularly on the link between mediation, social action and cosmopolitan citizenship.
Professor Chouliaraki's main research focus lies in the mediation of human vulnerability, and she has spent the past ten years exploring three key domains within which human vulnerability appears as a problem of communication: disaster news, humanitarianism and war. In her work on the mediation of disaster news, Professor Chouliaraki has shown the ways in which Western national and trans-national television networks follow hierarchical patterns in their narrative organisation of news on distant suffering and, hence, in the systematic distribution of ethical sensibilities towards distant others. In so doing, she concluded, they reproduce global hierarchies of place and human life, along a West/non-West axis (The Spectatorship of Suffering, Sage 2006/2011).
In more recent work, on the mediation of solidarity, Professor Chouliaraki explored how the humanitarian imperative has changed in the course of the past fifty years. Looking into NGO appeals, rock concerts, celebrity advocacy and post-television disaster news, she demonstrated how major institutional (the commercialisation of the aid and development field), technological (the rise of new media) and political (the fall of grand narratives) transformations have also changed the moral imperative to act on distant others who need our support. fAs a consequence, she argued, solidarity has today become not about conviction but choice, not vision but lifestyle, not others but ourselves - turning us into the ironic spectators of other people's suffering (The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism, Polity, 2012).
Professor Chouliaraki's current work focuses on the mediation of war, where she explores the various public genres through which war has been mundanely communicated in our culture, from photojournalism to films and from memoirs to news. The aim is to better understand how our collective imagination of the battlefield and its sufferings, what we may call our 'war imaginary', has been shaping the moral tissue of public life, in the course of the past century (1914-2012).