As a sociologist, Professor Couldry's main interests are media and communications, culture and power, and social theory. Most of all, he is interested in the consequences for everyday reality of symbolic power’s concentration in particular institutions.
Initially, Professor Couldry's work was focussed on the power of traditional ‘media’ (particular television and the press) to define political and social reality. More recently, he has become interested in how a range of institutions associated with ‘media’ have, in the digital age, taken over that power. Today, the work of constructing reality is done as importantly through algorithms that work to measure our performance online or while using a networked object (the ‘internet of things’), as through large-scale media narratives about society.
Throughout his career, Professor Couldry has tried to confront a basic paradox: that information and communication technologies, because they present us with a ‘reality’ every day, can easily come to seem like a second nature. As a result, what should always be contestable can end up seeming beyond challenge, a structure of power that is too ‘hard’ to move or break through. His work has looked at many examples of this: ritual forms around media, such as ‘reality TV’ and more recently how, in everyday organizations and settings, the power to measure and define through algorithmic processes is contested, a process he has called ‘social analytics’ (see Storycircle project). For his latest book on the emerging social and economic order around data practices, see https://colonizedbydata.com/. Professor Couldry has also researched the politics of representation: are we, through our uses of media, empowered to engage with the democratic process (see Public Connection project)?