My current research examines public discourses about gender equality in the workplace and media representations of women and work
. I am conducting a study that examines the experiences of women who left paid employment in the context of becoming mothers, and juxtaposes their experiences against the way they are represented in the media and public discourse. The study involves interviews with women who left paid employment and their partners, and analysis of media representations of ‘stay-at-home’ mothers and discourses on gender equality in the workplace.
My other research interest concerns the significance of media representations for people's understanding of themselves, of one another, and the world. I am and particularly interested in how new media enable people to present and understand themselves and how their personal narratives and representations interact, reflect and challenge larger public narratives and images. These issues are explored in my recently published book Media Representation and the Global Imagination (2012, Polity).
The book examines how transformations in the contemporary media landscape, specifically the expansion of new media, the increasing global scope of communication, and the blurring between public and private realms, change and shape the ways in which issues of public concern are framed, imaged, and constructed, and what consequences this may have. Read more here.
My other interests include representations of suffering, new media, the Internet and computer-mediated communication, narrative and media, media and everyday life, media and globalisation, health and new media, gender and the media, and methodological aspects of doing Internet research.
I supervise PhD students and welcome applications from prospective students relating to these areas of research.
Last year I completed (with Dr Bruna Seu, Birkbeck College) the research project 'Mediated Humanitarian Knowledge; Audiences' Reactions and Moral Actions', funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project explored public understanding and reactions to humanitarian communications, including campaigns about international development issues and humanitarian appeals. We conducted focus groups across the UK to learn how people make sense of the images and narratives of distant suffering and how ideologies, emotions and biographical experiences shape those responses. We also interviewed professionals from ten UK-based international NGOs to explore how they think about and produce their communications.
My previous research focused on the online participation of breast cancer patients in Internet spaces. While much has been debated about the significance of the Internet, the actual processes of communication in which people engage online are as yet little understood. Exploring the ways in which participants in online spaces configure their experience into a story, my study offers an innovative way of understanding online communication as a socially significant activity. It is based on e-mail and face-to-face interviews with breast cancer patients, as well as an analysis of breast cancer related websites. The substantive focus of storytelling online is analysed in its specificity as a social phenomenon. At the same time it is connected to a broad range of debates on communication and Internet, health and illness and social agency. I have written about this in my book Storytelling Online: Talking Breast Cancer on the Internet (Peter Lang, 2005).
In 2006 I conducted a research project on the impact mobile television entitled, "This Box Was Made For Walking". The research explored how mobile television is likely to transform viewers' experience of watching television and how it will change advertising. A report commissioned by Nokia was published in November 2006 and a special event was held at the BAFTA in London on 10 November 2006.
Another interest is in qualitative methods of Internet research. I wrote about this in chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Information and Communication Technologies (edited by Mansell et al, 2007) Virtual Methods (edited by Hine, Berg, 2005) and Internet Inquiry: A Dialogue Among Qualitative Researchers (edited by Markham & Baym, Sage, 2008), and in a review of the book "Online Social Research" in New Media & Society (February 2005). I am part of an international research group who is engaged in the study of qualitative methods of Internet research, together with Nancy Baym (University of Kansas), Annette Markham (University of the Virgin Islands), Lori Kendall (SUNY) and others.