Not available in 2019/20
MC428      Half Unit
Media Culture and Neoliberalism in the Global South

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Wendy Willems PEL.7.01G


This course is available on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media, Communication and Development and MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted.

Course content

This course offers a comparative perspective on changing national media cultures in the global South in the context of the neoliberal turn. The course not only considers neoliberalism as a crucial factor that has brought media industries such as private broadcasting stations and mobile phone companies into existence but also examines the extent to which these new forms of media have played a role in reproducing neoliberalism as a process, it aims to offer an understanding of how shifting economic policy regimes have impacted on the way in which people engage with media and how media engage with people in the global South. The first part of the course introduces the key concepts of ‘media culture’, ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘global South’ which will be deployed throughout the course. The second part of the course discusses how key processes of social change in the global South are linked to changing media cultures, including the commodification of national imaginaries, informality, crime and the rising middle class, religion and the prosperity gospel, self-help media and the neoliberal subject, and mobility and social relations. The course examines these themes through a series of empirically-grounded, mostly ethnographic case studies that include sport in Chile, popular video in Nigeria, reality television in India, crime and media in South Africa and India, Pentecostal media in Ghana, mobile phones in China and the Philippines, and plastic surgery in South Korea. The course encourages students to critically evaluate the extent to which the three key concepts in the course are helpful in gaining an understanding of changing media cultures in the global South.



10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework


Students will complete a formative 1,500 word essay based on a case study, usually submitted in LT7.


Indicative reading

Askew, K. and R. R. Wilk (2002) (eds.). The anthropology of media: a reader. Oxford: Blackwell; 

Comaroff, J. and J. L. Comaroff (2001). Millennial capitalism and the culture of neoliberalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press;

Comaroff, J. and J. L. Comaroff (2012). Theory from the south, or, how Euro-America is evolving toward Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers;

Ginsburg, F. D., Abu-Lughod, L. and B. Larkin (2002) (eds.). Media worlds: anthropology on new terrain. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press;

Murphy, P. D. and M. M. Kraidy (2003). Global media studies: ethnographic perspectives. London: Routledge;

Prashad, V. (2013). The poorer nations: a possible history of the global South. London: Verso.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 25.2
Merit 57.1
Pass 13.4
Fail 4.2

Teachers' comment

This course will examine how people engage with media in the context of the ‘neoliberal turn’, providing a comparative perspective on changing media culture in the global South.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information