Course: Media and Participation (MKVN02)
When you follow Twitter news feeds, reading a blog or watching a documentary have you ever thought about your role as a participant?
Annette Hill, Professor and researcher in media audiences has surely given participation in the media some thought. She’s the course coordinator for an international course on media and participation. We have asked her a few questions about this course, which is offered to doctoral and master’s level students.
What does participation in the media mean?
- Media and Participation is about how people engage with politics, society and culture Participation can include the political and non political, for example public issues such as the economic crisis, and private issues such as going on a talkshow. It’s this mix of the public and private that makes participation such a rich topic to study.
What’s the purpose of this course?
- The purpose of this course is to get people to participate in debate about media and democracy, power and public engagement, using case studies from social media, live events, or art and activism. The course integrates history, politics, society and culture, which makes it useful for students from different backgrounds and disciplines.
I want to participate! What else do I need to know?
- The course gives you 15 credits and welcomes students from the social sciences, humanities and theology faculties.
Timothy Parker (New Zealand postgraduate student)
Media and Participation acted as an excellent entry point for the Masters of Media and Communication Programme. The course required active input and engagement during class, and a commitment to reading and research outside of the classroom, both of which help to lay the foundation for the thesis work in the final year of your study. Independently designing and conducting your own research was also an integral element of the course, which was both a challenging and rewarding experience.
The global focus of the course material, and the multicultural makeup of the class foster a dynamic and stimulating work environment, giving you the skills required for working in an increasingly globalised workplace. Annette Hill is committed to the progress and development of the students in the class, providing insightful advice and feedback throughout the course, and even providing one-on-one meetings for essay writing which is particularly helpful. Overall, the course is well-structured, demanding, engaging, and an extremely worthwhile experience!
Michal Geida (Swedish postgraduate student)
With my personal interest in organizational sociology and political participation, I found the content of the Media and Participation course insightful and rewarding. I particularly appreciated the research approach used throughout the module, which placed emphasis on finding practical solutions to real-world problems, something that should be a crucial component of all social scientific inquiry. It was interesting to learn how media today plays an important role in individuals’ ability to express their identities and voices, and how their personal narratives are both constrained and enabled by various forms of participation in media.
Annette Hill’s passion for the topic and course was very inspiring and had me constantly curious about the variety of theoretical approaches presented. The mixture of political, social and cultural analytical frameworks made for an excellent interdisciplinary approach to media, which is exactly what a master’s level course in modern-day social sciences should strive to achieve.
Debora Martini (Brazilian postgraduate student)
Media and Participation is a challenging and fulfilling course. Annette Hill pushes her students through an excellent reading list that covers three aspects of participation - political, social and cultural- and great lectures that provide a space for discussions, as well as learning a new method to put to work alongside the theories.
In this course students also get a chance to work in groups, completing a case study in a safe environment, where the course leader provides you with great feedback and support, providing students with the opportunity to improve when they move on to do independent essay work with a case study of their own choice. I highly recommend this course if you are interested in learning the intricacies of participation in society, as well as have a desire to be pushed and grow as a student and researcher.
Magnus Johansson (Swedish postgraduate student)
The role of participation through, within and around media was a relatively new field for me before taking the course Media and Participation. Through the course, I was able to not only get a great overview of the field itself, but also practice hands-on research within it. From using contemporary media theory from authors like Peter Dahlgren, John Corner and Nick Couldry, a great base for the understanding of the power (and limitations) of participation was built during the course, encompassing the political, cultural and social dimensions of participation.
The hands-on elements of the course, which included a research collaboration with Skissernas Museum in Lund, also provided a useful skill set not confined to the field itself, but easily applicable in further ventures in academia. This methods part proved to be a valuable asset, and is taught by course leader Annette Hill, who has extensive experience in both the field and the methods used. The course culminates in an opportunity to conduct your own research, which I felt I was thoroughly prepared for through the lectures, discussions and workshops given within the course. The course is well designed, and the potential cross-over between audience research and participation is clearly defined to make participation research stand out as a field on it’s own. Not only is the course guided by an expert in the field, Professor Annette Hill, but a string of prominent guest lectures are given as well. Amongst those are Peter Dahlgren and Tobias Olsson, which is a great way of obtaining a broad view on the very interesting field of media and participation.
Christine Sandall (Swedish postgraduate student)
The course Media and Participation combines theoretical concepts with doing a concrete case study by using action research. As action research ideally is conducted in cycles, it made a lot of sense to have a group work. During the group work we learned how to use the method by actually doing it, got deeper into the theoretical concepts while applying them to our case, and it also provided us with a great starting point for the individual essay.
Furthermore, it gave an opportunity to evaluate the first cycle of research and to dig deeper into the case under consideration, also by adding new aspects of the theories this course provided. I can really recommend this course if you want to deepen (and widen) your understanding of participation and democracy from a social, cultural and political angle in connection to media!
Rania Savitri Mafiroh (Indonesian postgraduate student)
Media and Participation course is an intellectually challenging course. It really helped me to gain critical thinking and discover new perspectives, not only from the books but also from the professor and friends with different backgrounds. Two things that I really like from this course are that we discussed exciting case studies and we applied theories in a practical way through the group project. I had a great learning experience in my first course!
Amy Franck (Irish postgraduate student)
The Media and Participation course introduced a range of new skillsets to the class at a graduate level. Working in groups is an important part of university education in Sweden. This course gave a great introduction to this culture through intensive preparation for projects and presentations, allowing us to get to know our new classmates better along the way. We developed a refined appreciation for the ways that people can (or cannot!) participate in the media in political, cultural, and social manners, using these analytical tools to think more deeply about current events.
Perhaps the most engaging part of the course was learning how to carry out our own research, interview people and collect our own data. There is a special sense of ownership you acquire when you write your final essay not just referring to the academic literature, but making an argument based on the analysis of the research you carried out. In this way, we experienced firsthand what the academic research process looks like, an invaluable skill we will take forwards in this master’s degree.
Hario Satrio Priambodho (Indonesian postgraduate student)
In short, I felt I have benefited immensely both on an academic and personal level by taking this course. A few of the key concepts presented in the course were somewhat familiar but it wasn't until we got into an in-depth discussion that I realized how nuanced and important these concepts were. The materials were robust, covering a whole range of issues that in one way or another you can always relate to in our own personal lives.
After taking this course, I managed to realize how multiple aspects of participation in society is actually taken for granted and by doing so it allowed me to be more aware of my surroundings and also how things work in general. Last but not least, the methods part of the course might have just given me the necessary extra tools I need in order to carry out my master's thesis.
Lina Lockean (Swedish postgraduate student)
Media and Participation was my introduction to both postgraduate studies and media and communication as a field of study. Straight away I was thrown into a course that challenged the very core of my academic identity and background.
The course was designed with clear structure, an impressive reading list and engaging lectures. Through its different approaches (political, social and cultural) we were offered the possibility of focusing on the ones that interested us the most, encouraging us to unpack these concepts on a deeper level. Annette showed great interest in providing all that was needed in order for us to have a good learning experience (and, down the line, earn a good grade) and I consider the theories as valuable parts in my academic toolbox. In short, it is a challenging and ambitious course, especially if it is your first encounter with critical media studies. Prepare for hard work and independent study and hang in there. It’s worth it!
Frank J. Schreier III (American postgraduate student)
This course really challenged me to think critically and re-conceptualize such a key component of Media Studies - participation. It gives both a broad and deep overview by examining participation in politics, society, and culture, and by introducing a great variety of researchers and authors on the subject.
Giulia Masciave (Italian postgraduate student)
Media and Participation is a course that challenges you to think in depth about participation. It pushes you to go over your comfort zone, your previous ideas and approach this concept with a critical and multi-perspectives analysis.
Stephen Sandford (British postgraduate student)
Media and Participation is an enjoyable course that explores the impact, processes and separation of participation from the other aspects of Media and Communications studies. Very well taught with interesting and thought provoking theories that allow for new and exciting trains of thought that expand greatly on what we have already been taught. When explored in the wider context of Media and Communications as a whole, it shows how vital participation in media is in modern society.
Isa Chen, Swedish postgraduate student
The course Media and Participation has been the most challenging but also the most rewarding and intellectually stimulating endeavour I have undertaken. Our teacher Annette Hill did not only succeed in engaging us students through her inspiring and interesting lectures using a wide range of case studies – from professional wrestling to undersea cable networks – but we students were also actively encouraged to participate through projects, group works and seminars.
The four main approaches (historical, political, social and cultural) that were used in order to unpack the concept of participation provided a starting point for us students to discover the breadth and depth of the concept. Instead of looking at participation as a matter of fact, we have learned to analyse and problematize different forms of participation in relation to issues of power, democracy, society and culture – prompting us to ask what constitutes as participation in the first place.
European postgraduate student
Media and Participation course was my first course as a Masters student of Media and Communication in Lund University. In the introductory lesson I worried about how I would manage, or meet the expectations for the course. I am telling you now - don’t worry! Believe me when I say be happy that you have an opportunity to take this course and get to know the main approaches to media and participation from the Professor who genuinely cares about the course and about your participation in it. Yes, the schedule is tight, but lectures are always lively, Annette presents the main concepts coherently, always emphasizes the main points, so that it would be easier for you to read the literature, and suggests additional readings that are very useful, especially when it is time to write the essay.
In this course you will also work in groups and, most importantly, analyse real cases in group projects. It feels magical, when you see how the concepts adjust to real events. The most vivid memory I will have from this course is feeling that I matter, that I am not just a student, that I have the ability to improve myself in every lecture, develop critical thoughts and that Annette is genuinely interested in those thoughts. That is what being a researcher feels like, that is what being a Lund University student feels like. Especially, I recommend you to work hard in writing the essay because the Professor's comments will help you to improve your academic skills. Good luck!
Rebecca A. Fristedt, Swedish postgraduate student
In my education so far, this is one of the courses that I’ve enjoyed the most. With the overarching notion of participation, this course gathers various perspectives and ways of analysis. It deals with both the historical and political, as well as the cultural and the social. For me, my interest has always been more within the political spectrum, but the broad focus of this course has now enriched that interest, and in a solid way come to inform my perception and general analysis of the political perspective.
Regardless of whether your interest lies within the historical, political, social or the cultural perspective on media and participation, this is a course that will broaden and deepen your knowledge, as well as heighten your sensibilities towards how these perspectives are related to each other.
The structure of the course further allows for learning by doing, and through the different workshops we’ve been able to practice application of core theoretical themes through actual analysis. The course offers a very relaxed setting where we as students really get to participate and try out various themes and theories. Overall, Media and Participation is a fun, enlightening and social experience, and one that I highly recommend.
Una Cilic, Bosnia and Herzegovina postgraduate student
A very good structure and an engaged teacher were a winning combination of the Media and Participation course. Professor Annette Hill is very dedicated to the field of participation and she knows how to transfer her knowledge to the students effectively. Since this was the first course I took on the Masters in Media and Communication programme. It was very valuable to me that Annette was willing to help and give us advice regarding our essay writing and other hardships some of us had.
During the lectures we had a chance to learn about four different media and participation approaches which proved as highly valuable in the analysis of media. We also had a chance to apply those theories by creating our own participatory project. Under the supervision of Professor Annette Hill, we created a project called Refugee crisis: based on general principles of participation and on an actual issue of the refugee crisis in Europe, more than 15 students contributed in the content creation of this project.
As a journalist, I am very satisfied with the course, because now I have the right theories and the tools that I can use to further analyse not only various media products, but also how media demonstrates some aspects of different groups and individuals in society.
Burcum Kesen, Turkish postgraduate student
Media and Participation was my first course within the Masters programme in Media and Communication. I have found the course in general very interesting because we read theories regarding social, political, and cultural participation in the media sphere. It has helped change my perspective regarding how we use media and how we, as citizens, participate within the media. The best thing about the course is that it enables us to use the theories we read in current media examples that we pick as case studies, from social media, newspapers or television. I think this way the course becomes very practical for students and helps them to see how theory applies to the real world examples.
The structure of the course follows the Nordic model of teaching and learning. For some students new to this model, it might seem unorthodox since it requires a lot of self study and group projects, however I liked this model since it also makes the students more active instead of passive listeners in the lectures. Especially the nature of the lectures where we do presentations and group projects, creates a better learning environment for students to engage with the topics which makes it a very interesting and demanding course. It requires a lot of work; however, in the end, you get so much out of it.
During the course, I was also lucky to be part of a participatory project with my classmates where we created an online platform for people to participate with their own stories about the current refugee crisis, putting our learning outcomes into practice with the guidance of our professor Annette Hill who also during the course, guided us for our presentations and final paper.
All in all, I think the course helped me not only gain knowledge but also improve my critical thinking within the subject. I really enjoyed having this course from Annette who is very passionate about the topic. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to widen their knowledge on the topic for their future studies and be critical about the media in our everyday life.
Xinyi Fu, Chinese postgraduate student
I took Media and Participation course in the third semester within my master’s programme. We were supposed to make a choice among courses within Faculty of Social Science and Faculty of Humanity and Theology, internships around the world as well as exchange to a cooperative university. I decided to choose this course as soon as I read the brief introduction. As far as I understood, what this course focused on was the role media played in cultural and social sphere, making political, historical, social and cultural perspectives as a whole to illustrate participations as practices. I was interested in media participation as an angle for my master thesis.
I really appreciated what Annette Hill did for Media and Participation course. We got course information, a reading schedule and essay requirements at the very beginning, which allowed us not to make plans in a rush way. Reading schedule did great help during two months, I would say. Primary readings were for us to understand lectures better and secondary readings helped when we worked on individual essays. Apart from individual essays, we were expected to do reading presentations on key concepts of four perspectives and groups projects by using these approaches. According to my personal experience, I dived into books and got fruitful comprehension during when I prepared for the presentation with my group. When I was doing my individual essay, I found that it was not as difficult as I expected. I was familiar with concepts during reading presentations, and I had already used four approaches to do case analysis in my group project. I knew how to use them and what I should avoid during previous work. In addition, a face-to-face essay tutorial from Annette made it even easier. She gave me suggestions on my essay structure and theoretical concepts that would work better.
To sum up, Media and Participation course was a demanding one but I benefited from it, not only understanding some theories but also acquiring abilities to do a satisfied case analysis and write good academic papers. Annette Hill was a conscientious Professor who was always ready to help students.
Stella Zaryan, Armenian-American postgraduate student
My favourite thing about the Media and Participation course was Annette’s broad approach to it. With the cultural, social, historical, and political dimensions of participation, Annette was able to supply us with a diverse reading list and a plethora of perspectives and theories in which to view and analyze the ways we use media to participate. Throughout the course we were urged to focus on and research what our interests were in accordance to the course theme and literature instead of having topics chosen for us. She also gave us many opportunities to practice our presentation skills throughout the term which I personally deem important. Her own presentations/lectures are very well organized, interesting, and engaging. I highly recommend this course.
Ally McCrow-Young, New Zealand postgraduate student
The course on Media and Participation with Annette Hill was an essential element of my Master’s Programme in Media and Communication Studies, and also a really nice way to spend my final semester of classes before the thesis! The course was very well structured from beginning to end, with relevant and interesting guest lectures and course readings. Drawing on the four different approaches to the way we conceptualise participation - historical, cultural, social and political - was useful not just for participation research, but more broadly for a variety of media and communication research.
Not only were we introduced to key concepts on participation through the course literature, we were also encouraged to participate ourselves by practically applying these theories to relevant case studies in group projects. Media and participation is a complex and intriguing area of study, and this course helped me to remember the importance of the historical and situated context. A very thought-provoking and diverse course, and a great experience.
Esteban Rahal, Columbian postgraduate student
The Media and Participation course tackles the key point of debate amongst democratic societies nowadays: Are the interaction, the new knowledge, and the habits of media consumption really meaningful for the development of democracy? Is it really worth it? Are we (as individuals) empowered by the massive access and the interaction new media brought to our daily life? The acknowledgment of the power struggles implicit in the media environment, the recognition of new human behaviours, and some critical perspectives regarding today’s participatory mood, frame the discussions and research outcomes of this very interesting course.
Neda Monshi, Iranian postgraduate student
The course is eye-opening. Before, I was a quiet observer, for example in social media. It changed my mind, by taking away my fear of participation. One cannot make a positive change in the world without participating in making something happen.
Merilin Sarapuu, Estonian postgraduate student
The course Media and Participation was surprisingly encouraging for the beginning of the Masters programme. Although it required lots of reading every day, the books were explained and introduced in the lectures, so it wasn’t actually overwhelming. For this I owe thanks to Professor Annette Hill for her positive and motivating attitude during the whole course.
Yanlin Fang, Chinese postgraduate student
It was a wonderful course which effectively guided us how to do research in this programme. I really like the different approaches the teacher introduced to analysing the subject of media and participation. Individually the scheme of the course gave me the maximum possibility of researching the specific field in which I have interest in mass media. I am also so grateful for the teacher’s caring tutorial and comments for my individual essay. This course helps explore the potential for me to study in this major in the future.
Chen Qimei, Chinese postgraduate student
I took the course Media and Participation because it was the compulsory course in my two year Masters programme. I felt quite stressed at the beginning, not only because of the long list of reading tasks, but also the lectures of politics and democracy issues. But after I finished the first reading assignment and had the first lecture given by Annette Hill, I felt more relaxed, because the tutor gave us a very clear schedule of reading and lectures to adjust our pace of study and manage our time. In addition, every lecture was followed by an active workshop between international students from different backgrounds discussing the core concepts. That helped me a lot in understanding the lectures.
The course is made up of regular lectures on different topics; frequent individual writing assignments of critical thinking about a key concept; group presentation of the books we read; a final academic essay of analyzing a chosen case by using theories we learned during the course. Each of the them was not an easy task, but when I completed them one by one, I think I learned much more than I thought at the beginning.
For me, the most valued experience of the course is that it expanded my horizon of media knowledge. As a skilled editor and journalist who came from China, I appreciated the opportunity to think about the media in different ways, especially in China we seldom have such a chance to analyze the participation from political, social, and historical perspectives beyond media. It helps me to understand the nature of media and their function in society. This course connects with another course Media and Morality, and I found the two different courses have interesting connections.
Håkan Petersson, Swedish postgraduate student
A great learning experience! Students from all over the world in the same classroom guaranteed many new and interesting perspectives on the concept of media and participation. The course is well structured, and the multidisciplinary approach to the subject as well as the extensive list of readings can be a good source of inspiration when scouting for a suitable research project for an upcoming masters thesis.
Roy Thaniago, Indonesian postgraduate student
The Professor's lectures made an incredible impact on my understanding people’s participation in a broader context with critical thinking. Through multi-approaches, she opened my perspectives and focused my attention on the small, everyday things we usually ignore in media, society and culture.
Meet Christos Mavraganis, from Athens, Greece
Why did you choose the Media and Participation course?
I took the Media and Participation course from the Media and Communications department, as an independent course, about 6 months before my masters beginning date.
I thought that while waiting for the notification of results about the MA, it was a really good idea to take part at this course and live in Sweden for about three and a half months.
The Media and Participation course was a safe, but also quite interesting choice for me, as my postgraduate studies were in the field of Media and Communication. It was a demanding course, but also quite exciting, as the discussions in class were totally constructed by the students.
The guidance of the teachers was very precise but it only drew the starting point and after that everything was left upon the debate between the students. And how could that be different, while the projects and the discussion themes were about social media, participatory factors, crowds, factual television and so many other interesting subjects which play a protagonist role in our everyday life, nowadays.
Many seminars were presented, each one with a different host speaker, which were very interesting, and helped the students develop their critical thinking and gain confidence in their knowledge.
The first part of the course was about presenting a group project and that was a very crucial point, as it was extremely helpful regarding to collaboration and ideas sharing processes between the students. Apart from the strictly academic point of view, the group project also increased the intimacy and the relationships between the students which are extremely important during your studies, especially if you are an international student, as I was. All groups presented their projects and the presentations where followed by discussions and feedback from all students about every group’s work, which was again very helpful.
The second and final part of the course was about writing an essay, each one separately this time. The teacher’s guidance was absolutely clear and specific, but in addition a meeting between the teacher and every student separately was held, where the student had the opportunity to present the plan and get advices about the final essay.
In sum, the Media and Participation course was a wonderful experience. The cooperation with the teacher, Annette Hill, was excellent as she was there for every student who may needed anything and the outcomes of the course helped me a lot in my upcoming MA studies.
What are you doing now?
Currently, I am a postgraduate student at Communication for Development MA, of Malmö University in Sweden.
Here are some additional examples of what students have said in their course evaluations spring term 2013:
- Taking lots of courses at Lund University, this was the first time I experienced the joy of listening to a lecture.
- I really liked the mixture of lectures and seminars, it gave us a great chance to directly apply knowledge and theories – as well as deepen our understanding of them.
- Thank you very much for inspirational material, topics and discussions.
- The course was very rewarding and held an incredibly high standard.
- A very good course where I feel I have learned a lot.
- The most important thing in this course is the teacher, her enthusiasm, intelligence and knowledge, openness to different areas of participation, it all makes you want to dedicate yourself even more to the course! Love a teacher who cares as much as she does. And she sets the bar high from the get go which makes you feel like your hard work really matters.
- The four different approaches proved very helpful in analyzing media texts and society’s phenomenon. A very helpful way of quickly approaching participation, a good tool from beginning to end.
- The course has been one of the most motivating and inspiring courses in my media and communication studies so far, much because of its broad content in relation to historical, political, cultural and social approaches within media and participation.
- The lectures have been very interesting with good case studies and literature that helped expand the horizon from different angles. It’s been a great course and I feel I learned a lot.