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Invited Speaker Profiles and Abstracts for Papers

Media and Passion

Stina Bengtsson

Associate Professor at Södertörn University, Sweden. Her research interests include the role of the media in everyday life, media morality, taste, power and cultural change, and virtual cultures. She has headed several research projects funded by institutions such as the Swedish Research Foundation and The Baltic Sea Foundation. Her publications include articles in journals such as International Journal of Cultural Studies and Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, besides book chapters and monographies.

The Mermaid as Taxpayer: New Media as Sites of Passion and Everyday Life

New media such as computer games, chat rooms and virtual worlds, have, when it comes to its audiences, often been discussed in terms of passion, emphasizing their potentials for identity experiments, leaving the constrains of the body, and the humdrum of everyday life. A "magic circle" surrounding digital environments where often imagined, that marked the ritual transgression from the routines of our day-to-day life, to the exciting and limitless world online. Today, this border is fused, as we are argued to live a 'media life' where the media totally saturates life, in all its respects. This presentation discusses this paradox of new media; being a magic world of passion and a monotonous everyday life at the same time. As it's vantage point it takes the saga of the Swedish Second Life community, the 'Second Sweden' that were active during a couple of years in the late 2000s.

Göran Bolin 

Professor in Media and Communication Studies at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden. His research spans audience research and media ethnography to production studies. His work is published in journals such as Journal of Cultural Economy, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Popular Communication and New Media & Society. His latest book is Value and the Media (Ashgate 2011).

Passion, Nostalgia and Generational Experience

One component in the generational experience strongly related to media is the intimate and often rather passionate relation that is developed towards media technologies and content from one's youth. Especially this goes for musical genres and reproduction technologies such as the vinyl record. The paper takes its departure in a series of focus group interviews with Swedish media users tentatively belonging to different generations. Whereas the older groups share between them some affectionate relations to bygone technologies and content, such expressions of affection are relatively absent among the younger groups. It is argued in the paper that the generational experience and belonging is worked upon by audiences, ad that this affectionate relationship is developed gradually as generations grow older.

Stephen Coleman

Professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds, Honorary Professor in Political Science at the University of Copenhagen and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. His main research interests are I) methods of political engagement; II) uses of digital media in representative democracies; III) intersections between popular culture and formal politics; IV) political efficacy; V) citizenship education; VI) political aesthetics, performance and rhetoric; VII) literary and dramatic representations of politics; and IX) forms of deliberation and decision-making.

The Beating Heart of the Rational Voter

Proponents of rational-choice theories of politics depict voters as self-interested calculating machines. In real life, voters are sentient actors and the act of voting is surrounded by complex bundles of affect. When the media puts a stethoscope to the beating heart of politics, they are often accused of personalising and trivialising a sacerdotal process. This lecture considers where this fear of exposing political feeling comes from and sets the scene for the burial of that strangely-imagined being, the rational voter.

John Corner

Is currently Visiting Professor in the Institute for Communication Studies at the University of Leeds and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Liverpool. He has published widely in books and journals and his major works include Television Form and Public Address (Arnold, 1995), The Art of Record (Manchester, 1996) and Critical Ideas in Television Studies (Oxford, 1999). Recent publications include the edited collection Media and the Restyling of Politics (with Dick Pels, Sage, 2003) and the authored volume Public Issue Television (with Peter Goddard and Kay Richardson, Manchester, 2007). His latest books are Theorising Media: Power, Form and Subjectivity (2011) and Political Culture and Media Genre (with Kay Richardson and Katy Parry (2012). He is an editor of the journal Media, Culture and Society.

Truly, Madly, Deeply? The Discourses of ‘Amateur’ Cultural Review

Passionate commitment to cultural artefacts has gained new expressive outlets via the web, which allows ‘fan forums’ of different kinds to flourish as well as a broad range of blogs and discussion threads. How do these newer ways of affiliating to, and celebrating, television, films, books, music etc relate to older forms of appreciation and comment? What indications are there of ‘blind commitment’ and how are the evaluations of others perceived and responded to?  In what ways is the vocabulary of professional reviewing in broadcasting and in print, with its various mixings of subjective and objective stances, drawn upon?  How do questions of reviewer identity and reviewer self-projection figure and what balance (or not) exists between reviewing as monologue and reviewing as a form of exchange? This paper examines some recent examples of discussion of the arts, including the popular arts, on the web. In the process, it looks at some general ideas about how we ‘consume’ the arts and share our tastes with others. It also connects with the literature on ‘fandom’ and on professional arts criticism within mainstream media.

Peter Dahlgren

Professor Emeritus in Media and Communication, Lund University, Sweden. His work focuses on media and democracy, using the horizons of late modern social and cultural theory. Most recently he has focused on the internet and civic identities. He is active in European academic networks and has also been a visiting scholar at several universities in Paris, Grenoble, Stirling, South Africa, as well as at the Annenberg School for Communication. His recent publications include Media and Political Engagement (Cambridge University Press, 2009), and the co-edited volume Young People, ICTs and Democracy (Nordicom, 2010).

Passion vs. Irony in Late Modern Mediated Politics: Shifting Subjectivities in Mainstream Online Blogs 

Contemporary political discourse seems to be incorporating more and more irony in its mode of expression – a sign that many observers associate with the temperament of late modernity. Such political expression conveys a sense of knowing disillusion with ideals, an insider’s cynical appraisal of how things actually are and how they work. This disposition is a far cry from the noble vision of informed citizens and media in the pursuit of truth, and from the basic trust that should hover around society’s major institutions and it power holders. An implicit message is that all politics is basically sham (though perhaps an entertaining one), and anyone who does not understand this is simply naïve and foolish. This mode of discourse at times makes use of humour to underscore its points. Yet on the other hand, as crises seemingly intensify, as desperation spreads, as political issues become increasingly polarized, we can also note an intensification of political passion. Not only groups, individuals, and power holders, but even political commentators mobilise ideals, ethics, values, and not least the notion of justice in often very agitated ways to make their arguments. This study will sample a month’s worth of major blogs on the Huffington Post, Fox News, BBC, Al-Jazeera, and CNN to probe the tensions between these two sensibilities. Can we see any patterns in regard to the type of political issue being discussed, the political tendency of the blogger, the nationality of the blogger, or news organization to which the blogger belongs?

Joke Hermes

Professor of Media, Culture and Citizenship at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. She also teaches media studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her work has been published in cultural and media studies journals (recently in Critical Studies in Mass Communication and forthcoming in the International Journal of Cultural Studies). She is founding co-editor of the ranked European Journal of Cultural Studies. Books in English include Rereading Popular Culture (2005) and Reading Women’s Magazines (1995).

A Little Less Passionate Please. Worrying Moments When Researching the Requirements for Quality News Among Urban Youth

Internet-based quality news: it sounds like a paradox, or an overenthusiastic view of the website of a renowned newspaper. It is the goal of a recent research project undertaken with Marokko.nl, a community website based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Marokko.nl, as the name shows, started as a web community for Dutch-Moroccan youth to quickly become a popular website for urban youth. Funded by advertising and grants for social projects, Marokko.nl keeps in close touch with various groups of researchers, among whom my research group. A humour project, the production of a web-based telenovela, the building of a sex-education website for Turkish and Moroccan youth in the Netherlands and now the quality news project have all been undertaken by us, as researchers, our students (who study media and communication) and web community members. Qualitative open interview-based research methods have allowed us to both theorize identity and representation from the perspective of urban youth and to contribute to actual co-productions with the wider community of urban youngsters.

Often our best informants are young, highly-educated women: they express themselves easily and do not bear the burden of representation that young Moroccan men (regularly depicted as petty criminals) do. Also, they are eminently reasonable human beings, not given to culturally determined shows of agitation and emotion – which seems to be the domain of the men, especially in public and semi-public settings. Is it perhaps the case that we do not mind ‘ending up’ with more female than male informants? How to deal with all that passion?

Primarily drawing on the news research, this talk will present a number of examples of research projects that ran over the past couple of years to address ‘ethnographic discomfort’ but also to study practices of representation from the perspective of the depicted. The overriding goal is to find ways and means to interest urban youth in quality news, defined as news items that go beyond the bare presentation of facts and present (or link through to) analysis, that, secondly, manage to engage urban youth as readers and strengthen a sense of citizenship and belonging.

Annette Hill

Professor of Media at Lund University, Sweden, and Visiting Professor at the Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster, UK. Her research focuses on audiences, with interests in sociology of media, everyday life, genres and cultures of viewing, and media experiences.

Passion Play: Audiences and Popular Culture

In sports, critics talk about passion play. Reality TV is also a genre that plays with passions. Both sports entertainment and reality entertainment have been credited with revolutionising these media and cultural industries through a focus on global formats that showcase celebrities, consumption, drama, emotion, live events and experience. The commodification of sports and reality entertainment is situated in a key moment in the late 1990s when the commercialisation of television, mobile and the internet, and live sporting and cultural events, worked in tandem with market trends such as an experience economy or affective economics. Here sports and reality entertainment structured dramatic narratives of trial and tribulation, victory and defeat, containing emotional and physical performances from celebrities and TV personalities. These narratives are in turn connected to passionate fans and anti-fans drawn to participation in sports and reality entertainment. This presentation explores the similarities and differences between sports entertainment like professional wrestling and reality entertainment like talent shows. It draws on pilot research in producers, performers and audiences of sports entertainment and reality formats. A passion play of love and hate, life and death, is performed and consumed in a visible and vocal mediated space.

Anna Lund

Senior Lecturer at the department of Social Sciences at Linnaeus University, Sweden, where she is co-director of the Center for Cultural Sociology. She is also a faculty fellow at Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University. Her current research concerns an analysis of the production of websites and online-games targeting girls and young women. Her earlier research concerned cultural policy and youth theatre, as well as artistic education and gender awareness from a cultural sociological perspective. She is also involved in a research project focusing youth culture, school achievement and multicultural incorporation. Her most recent publications, from 2011/2012, include articles in Cahiers de recherche sociologique and European Journal of Cultural Studies.

Passion for Digital Horses

The Stable is a digital community whose content takes participants’ – mostly girls and young women – interests in animals as its point of departure. It enables members to navigate between designing stables, training horses and taking care of crops. But they can also – and this is the focus of the present paper – discuss issues such as intimate relations, institutional experiences and politics. What I found during my visits to The Stable was that this online community seems to be a space for social criticism and democratic integration, as well as a space for dealing with entertainment and lifestyle issues. The purpose of the paper is to illuminate the civic potential of the digital horse, and the fact that girls and young women discuss things and have feelings for each other out of principle rather than experience. I will show how civic potential is expressed and why.

Tobias Olsson

Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He has extensive research experience within the areas of media and citizenship, internet culture and mediated participation. Between 2009 and 2013 he coordinated the research project “Organized Producers of Young Net Cultures” (funded by the Swedish Knowledge Foundation) and he is currently starting a research project on user generated content within newspaper companies (Hamrin foundation, 2012-2017). His most recent publications, from 2012, include articles in Javnost – The Public, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, and Television and New Media.

A Community of Passionate Runners, or a Space for Prosumer Commodification? Jogg.se as a Social Medium

During the last couple of years, jogging has made a strong comeback as form for everyday exercise. One salient difference between this wave of running, and the previous one – in the late 1970s and early 1980s – is that large amounts of contemporary joggers log, share and discuss their running practices within online communities. Drawing on recent studies of internet culture, and above all analyses of social media as business models, this paper will describe and critically analyse the part played by everyday users of one of the Swedish platforms for jogging – jogg.se. Among other things, the paper reveals how passionate joggers are caught between, on the one hand, a sense of community and – on the other hand – a commercial logic.

Mervi Pantti 

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Research, Media and Communication Studies, University of Helsinki.

Grassroots Compassion in a Complex Media Ecology

Popular online spaces such as the video platform YouTube provide a platform for self-expression and, increasingly, for political communication and participation. This paper discusses one of the so far overlooked aspects of citizen communications taking place today in the aftermath of crises, user-generated videos on the Internet that aim to elicit compassion and raise funds for victims. It engages with the question of how do user-generated humanitarian appeals call upon to feel compassion towards disaster victims and shape the emotional politics of humanitarian aid? Specifically, it will examine the emotional mobilization and affective regimes of user-generated videos uploaded on popular video-sharing website YouTube in response to Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and East Africa’s draught and famine.

Cosmopolitanism is understood here as enacted in the mediated emotional expressions and communicative strategies of ‘ordinary people’ that aim to promote humanitarian action in today’s complex media ecology. New media technologies, apparently, have played a crucial role in enforcing a globalization of emotions as they challenge the nation as the ultimate moral community and its monopoly over public emotions. This is important since the cultivation of compassion has traditionally been restricted by the nationally inflected narratives of disasters. The grassroots humanitarian appeals on YouTube, then, are conceptualized as forming a global political space of emotional engagements; a space for expressing, evoking and educating emotions and potentially widening the horizon of cosmopolitan imagination.

Gavan Titley

Works in the School of English, Media and Theatre Studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. His research currently focuses on the communicative politics and mediatization of racism and anti-racism. His publications include The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (2011, with Alana Lentin), Broadcasting in the ‘New’ Ireland (2010) and The Politics of Diversity in Europe (ed. with A. Lentin 2008). His research has been published in such journals as Ethnic and Racial Studies, The European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Journalism. He writes on issues of racism and politics for The Guardian. Gavan’s current research project involves a study of the impact of social media platforms on circulating and shaping racist discourses, as part of a new book he is writing with Alana Lentin, Racism and Anti-Racism in the Digital Media Era.

From Hate to Facticity: Researching Digital Racism in a Post-racial Era

High profile incidents - from opportunistic racial abuse on Twitter to the strategised provocation of the viral YouTube film Innocence of Muslims - regularly draw attention to the obvious ways in which digital communications may further racist aims. However, little research exists to date on the ways in which social media forms and modes of interaction are facilitating transformations in discourses of racism. Drawing on the theme of media and passion, this talk argues that there is a need to move beyond the dominant association of online racism with 'hate speech', and to pay attention to the production of 'factual speech'. In a putatively 'post-racial' political era, where racism is regarded as the property of the political extremes, racist exclusion is produced through reflexive and adaptive forms of legitimation that purport to do no more than reasonably document and prove the empirical nature of the 'problem'. This facticity is shaped through circuits and networks of communication, translated and 'verified' in real-time reactions to events in different countries, absorbed into mainstream media accounts, and legitimated in reflexive appeals to the necessity of 'counter public spheres'. The talk will explore these themes by drawing on qualitative research from a Council of Europe-funded project supporting young bloggers countering hate speech online.

Magnus Andersson

Senior Lecturer at School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. His main research interest is communication geography and the intersection between mediation, space and everyday life. He has been involved in research projects on transnational migration and rural media studies. His publications include articles in Communications, Culture Unbound and European Journal of Cultural Studies.

Mediatized Football Fandom and the Smooth Movements between Online and Offline Arenas

Being a passionate football supporter today means to be at the centre of mediatization processes. Besides visiting live events, the football supporter usually engages in mass media, social media, twitter, blogs and, not seldom, text messaging or twitter. Diverse mediated communication processes take place before, under and after the match: sports pages are read, discussions on forums are started, banners are displayed, songs are sung, television is watched, tweets are sent and films (of the tifo choreography) are produced. In this presentation I will focus on two different mediatized communities of fans: (1) the supporters at distance and (2) the ultras. Of particular interest is how both these, otherwise different, fractions of supporters, move smoothly between online and offline realms - without dissolving the division per se.