Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser

Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser

Associate Faculty

Department of Media and Communications

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Key Expertise
Gender in the media

About me

Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser is Distinguished Professor of Communication and inaugural Director of the Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication. She holds a joint faculty position with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the University of Southern California (USC).

Professor Banet-Weiser was Head of the Department of Media and Communications between September 2018 and June 2021.

Her research is deeply interdisciplinary, as is her scholarly editorial work.  She was formerly the editor of the flagship journal of the American Studies Association, American Quarterly, and was the founding co-editor of the New York University Press book series, Critical Cultural Communication Studies.  She is currently the current co-editor of the International Communication Association journal, Communication, Culture, Critique.  Professor Banet-Weiser has been the recipient of international fellowships and visiting professorships at, among others, the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme in Paris, France; the Gulbenkian Foundation and the University of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal; Microsoft Research New England (the social media collective); and McGill University in Montreal (Media@McGill Scholar).

Professor Banet-Weiser is the recipient of scholarly and mentoring awards, including the International Communication Association’s Outstanding Book Award for Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture (2012); the Constance Rourke Prize for Best Article in American Quarterly, and the Mellon Graduate Student Mentoring Award.  She is a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Center for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Southern California.  She comes to LSE after 19 years in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, where she was Professor, Vice Dean and the Director of the School of Communication.

Expertise Details

Gender; Feminist theory; Race and ethnicity; Consumer culture; Neoliberal capitalism; Branding; Popular culture; Social media; Youth culture



Other publications

View a comprehensive list of Professor Banet-Weiser's publications


In her work, Professor Banet-Weiser studies gender identities and politics, non-white communities, and youth culture, with the intention of broadening and redefining the parameters of scholarship in these areas.  Her research interests have focused on places that have not typically been examined in terms of citizenship, such as women’s beauty pageants, children’s television, and brand culture, to consider how such cultural products and practices help us to understand the concept of consumer citizenship more broadly, particularly in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and difference. She takes a multi-methodological approach, and has expertise in ethnography, interviews, participant-observation, textual and discourse analysis, and cultural critique.

Her recent research examines public practices, discourses and media productions on popular feminism and popular misogyny.  She has recently completed a study of the contemporary context for spectacular popular feminism, exploring the ways in which empowerment and rights for women and girls are celebrated in media and mainstream society. Against this backdrop, misogyny seems to have gained more power than ever, from the highest ranks of government to the lowest depths of internet culture. Her book, Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny (Duke University Press, 2018) makes sense of this moment, theorizing popular feminism and popular misogyny as a deeply entwined relationship, in which the highly visible feminism of advertising, online platforms, and nonprofits is met with the misogynistic violence of mass harassment, assault, and institutional neglect. Through case studies, Professor Banet-Weiser documents the circulation of feminism in an economy of visibility, where representation in the commercial sphere has supplanted recognition in the political sphere as the goal of many feminist practices and some men have learned to see the advancements of women and people of color as a disadvantage to themselves.

Professor Banet-Weiser also has a co-edited anthology (with Roopali Muhkerjee and Herman Gray), Racism Post-Race (Duke University Press, 2019), which explores the cultural power of post-race but also the vulnerabilities of this moment. The essays in the collection trace expressions of post-race over and through a wide cultural terrain – in public policy debates, academic disputes, popular cultural performances, media expressions both in the US and overseas, sports cultures, technology industries, music, and fashion spectacles.

Her other research interests focus on intellectual and activist discourses that explore how global media politics are exercised, expressed, and perpetuated in different cultural contexts.  She investigates this in her award-winning 2012 book Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture (New York University Press), where she explores brand culture and political possibility through an investigation of self-branding, creativity, politics and religion. She also co-edited (with Roopali Muhkerjee) an anthology, Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times (New York University Press, 2012).

Professor Banet-Weiser also has research interests in youth and media.  In 2007, she published Kids Rule! Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship with Duke University Press.  In that work, she investigates one of the most commercially successful cable networks in history, Nickelodeon, in order to rethink the relationship between children, media, citizenship, and consumerism. In this book, she draws on interviews with nearly fifty children as well as with network professionals; coverage of Nickelodeon in both trade and mass media publications; and analysis of the network’s programs. She provides an overview of the media industry within which Nickelodeon emerged in the early 1980s as well as a detailed investigation of its brand-development strategies. She also explores Nickelodeon’s commitment to “girl power,” its ambivalent stance on multiculturalism and diversity, and its oft-remarked appeal to adult viewers. She also published a co-edited anthology (with Cynthia Chris and Anthony Freitas) on the history and cultural politics of cable television, Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting (New York University Press, 2007).

Her first book, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity (University of California Press, 1999), explores a popular cultural ritual, the beauty pageant, as a space in which national identities, desires, and anxieties about race and gender are played out.

She has published articles in the academic journals International Journal of Communication, Continuum, Critical Studies and Media Communication, Feminist Theory, Communication Review, and Television and New Media, among others.