Roger Silverstone, 1945-2006

Internationally renowned media scholar and sociologist, founder of the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics

Professor Roger Silverstone, author of twelve books including Why Study the Media?, The Message of Television, Consuming Technologies, Framing Science and Television and Everyday Life, and many articles and writings, has died aged unexpectedly, following surgery, aged just 61.

Silverstone had a considerable impact on the interdisciplinary field of media and communications in the UK and internationally, establishing new and innovative programmes of teaching and research at the universities of Brunel, Sussex and the LSE. An important figure in the field of media and communications nationally and internationally, his research on the embedding of media and communication technologies in the complex social dynamics of everyday life will have a lasting influence on future generations. He developed key concepts in our repertoire of ideas, theorising the everyday so as to demonstrate the cumulative significance of routine, often unnoticed, habits and practices.

Through his interest in the way people domesticate new technologies within their homes and beyond 'their front doors', as he often said, he led several generations of researchers to ask why and how people persist in using technologies and the media in unexpected ways. He had a particular fascination with the media that are produced and consumed by diaspora communities, often including junior researchers in this work.

His later writings expressed his commitment to understanding the ethical dimension of our daily lives with media. Why Study the Media? - a concerted plea to sceptics everywhere - showed the importance of media, both in community, democratic and global affairs and closer to home - in imagination, trust, memory and play. In his last book, Media and Morality, in press with Polity Press, he examines the moral and political consequences of our collective failure to empathise with 'the other', for that other is also ourselves. Without a critique of global media power and responsibility, his concern was that we will see an erosion in the capacity of human beings to understand and respect each other, especially those whom they see and hear only when mediated, through the media.

He will be greatly missed by colleagues, friends and students in many countries, for his ideas and his energy, his infectious enthusiasms and his enormous generosity: a man of great warmth, he was modest in manner but inspirational to many.

He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, a psychotherapist, his children Daniel, Elizabeth and William and four grandchildren.

Sonia Livingstone

  Picture taken on 10th April 2006, Tel Aviv by Daniel Tchetchik