Research Overview

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The Department of Media and Communications at LSE conducts critical, empirical and engaged research into the central role of media and communications within contemporary society. Our research has been ranked #1 in the most recent UK research evaluation, with 91% of research outputs ranked world-leading or internationally excellent.

We bring to multiple disciplinary agendas a deep understanding of changes in the media and communication environment as these shape, and are shaped by, complex socio-technical, political-economic, cultural and historical developments. Our approach emphasises structures, processes and practices in an increasingly media-saturated society and concerns about inequality, legitimacy, privacy-publicness, voice, and violence inform our theoretical and empirical research with de-Westernising research in the field as a persistent focus for discussion. We raise and investigate issues of inequality and discrimination in a variety of fora linked to media and communication and propose solutions based on our results. 

We aim to:

  • Be the leading research based department in media and communications in the UK and one of the top five in the world
  • Provide a high-quality master’s level graduate education in the study of media and communications drawing on the social science disciplines
  • Prepare students for doctoral or professional research in the media and communications field and for entry into a variety of careers
  • Conduct research that impacts on the strategies and practices of the media and communications industry, government policy makers and the third sector.

In research, our goals are to:

  • Produce research and publications to the highest possible international standard of excellence
  • Generate original research ideas, insights and findings that shape future academic scholarship in the media and communications field in the social sciences
  • Enhance the intellectual standing of the field of media and communications
  • Ensure that our original research is influential and impacts on media and communication policy, industry practice, third sector agendas and the public
  • Successfully raise external funds to conduct original research
  • Educate and train doctoral students at the cutting edge of research in the field
  • Sustain a generative research environment within the department, including constructive links with academic networks and organisations nationally and internationally.

In teaching, we offer:

  • An intensive, high-quality postgraduate education in media and communications
  • A broad social science foundation in qualitative, quantitative, empirical and critical skills
  • A diverse, inter- and multidisciplinary approach to theoretical developments and debates in the field
  • A range of specialist courses within media and communications and related fields, including an independent empirical research project
  • An intellectually stimulating, well-resourced learning environment, with strong links to media and communications industries, policy makers and the third sector
  • The opportunity for lively cross-cultural exchange of ideas among a dynamic group of fellow students in the Department and School
  • Study with internationally recognised active researchers with expertise in media and communications and politics and democracy, regulation and policy, technological change, audiences and literacies, globalisation and culture, and more. 

We undertake a wide array of intellectual, empirical and policy-oriented projects. Integrative and intersecting sets of concepts and questions currently guide our work with ongoing reflection on emerging and cutting-edge themes and issues.

Knowledge Construction

Shifting relations between knowledge producers and users

We study these shifting relations within and across diverse domains of practice, in contexts including the global media industries, journalism practice, media organisations and digital information technology and service producing organisations in wealthy, developing and transitional states. What forms of literacy - interpretative, creative, resistant - are possible or necessary in a changing media and communications environment?

People contributing to this research focus:

Mediated Political Agency

Changing relations between the media and their forms, subjects and modalities of political and civic agency 

We study how and why these relations are changing in contemporary society. What does this mean for the actual and potential significance of mediated public spheres, the active role of audiences, and diverse capacities for democratic debate? What skills and resources are available to citizens and other stakeholders that shape and mediate their participation?

People contributing to this research focus:

Cultures and Identities

Belonging and community on all scales from the local to the transnational 

We examine historical and current trends in the global media and communications industries, media representations, and everyday practices of production, consumption and participation and why they matter. Why do they matter for the constitution of identities (ethnic, class, youth, gender, urban), social relations and solidarity, rights and quality of life, and ethical concern for the Other?

People contributing to this research focus:

Governing Mediated Environments

Technologies, structures and processes of media and communications nationally and internationally

We study the challenges and possibilities in this area through sustained critical engagement with the institutions, regulations and policies crucial to governance. This includes research on media and communications industry structure, copyright, privacy, freedom of expression, and security. What are the key issues for governance of the media and information and communication technologies and services in the global North and South?

People contributing to this research focus:

Cross-cutting themes bring coherence to research in the Department.

Comparative and transnational research - understanding the global, national and local significance of media and communications.  We tackle the theoretical and methodological challenges of undertaking cross-nationally comparative research and/or de-Westernizing research so as to gain a deeper understanding of both commonalities and differences.

Ethical implications of research -  our engaged and critical approach means we are concerned with the ethical implications in relation to norms of democracy, equality and inclusiveness, ethical inquiry and action, and quality of life; we investigate adjustments to the mediated environment that are called for to make it more responsive to such norms. Research on media ethics cuts across work on journalism ethics and media policy, political philosophy and social theory and encourages an explicit engagement with normative theory in some of our projects.