Research profile

The research programme builds on research that aims to enhance, expand and challenge the media, understood as communicative technologies, and their significance and impact on communicative forms. The research programme has two starting points. First, the research programme is based on a specific conceptualisation of media. The conceptualisation of media views media as meaning producing, behavioural and experience generating communication technologies used for different purposes in specific discursive fields. Furthermore, the conceptualisation of media views the media as powerful agents of society. These media institutions constitute transnational cultural-economic industries, for example the film industry, the computer game industry, the television industry, as well as fields of transnational and national cultural politics. This fundamental media conceptualisation entails an integration of theory and research methodology from the humanities and the social sciences. Second, the conceptualisation of communication present in the research programme views communication as a constituent of society and as an activity building and transforming society. Using different forms of expression and media, this activity has a decisive influence on the formation of identities, opinions, values and ideologies and well as qualities, perceptions and institutions important to the constitution and development of society.

Based on these two conceptualisations, the research programme accommodates research in different communicative and discursive universes influencing culture and society. Furthermore, the research programme has an integrating perspective given that the theoretical and methodological interests involve the entire communication circuit. As a consequence, the object of research in the programme is not only media texts and their historical and current transformations, but also the media producers and the users and the interplay between the constituents of the communication circuit.

Research areas and challenges

The research programme expands and challenges existing research interests in a number of different pivotal areas, for instance research on media use and reception and the interplay of new digital media and existing media and their integration in the practises of everyday life. Priority is also given to enhanced research into the transformation of media types, media forms and genres embedded in specific practises and marked by specific forms for expression and characteristics. Furthermore, analytical and theoretical development focusing on the use of new media in human interaction and organisation in businesses and organisations as well as in informal communities and networks like social media is also given high priority. A strong focus in the programme is on the development of media systemic theory and analysis into the specific media institutions and the technological and economic, as well as the legal and political contexts surrounding these institutions in an international perspective. Finally, the research programme will challenge and contribute to on-going theoretical development and conceptualisations regarding media, mediacy and mediatisation, and conceptualisations of the interplay of communicative forms and practises and political systems. These research areas and empirical challenges require developments of the qualitative and quantitative research methodologies applied in media and communications research. The need for methodological development is especially a result of the change producing forces of digital and mobile media and digital distribution.

Profile and participants

The research programme has its point of departure in a research area at Aarhus University, that during the last few years has been able to attract research funding, and that is characterized by collaboration with national as well as international research institutions as well as fruitful international networks with in media and communication research. The programme has partnerships with existing media industries as well as new types of media organisations. All of the researchers involved have backgrounds in different disciplines, e.g. anthropology, political science, linguistics and literary studies, and journalism and media studies. A comprehensive introduction to the specific research projects with-in the programme can be found following the link ‘research projects’.