Research Seminars, Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster


Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster

All seminars take place in room A6.9 at Harrow campus, University of Westminster

All welcome, but please email Dr Anastasia Kavada at if you’d like to attend

[Please scroll down for more information on each seminar and speaker]




6 Feb.

Ben O’LoughlinRoyal Holloway

Nick Anstead

London School of Economics

Semantic Polling: Real-Time Public Opinion and the 2010 UK General Election

27 Feb.

Toby MillerProfessor of Cultural Industries, City University

Blow Up the Humanities

6 Mar.

Christian FuchsProfessor of Social Media,

University of Westminster

Reflections on the Digital Labour Debate

13 Mar.

David McKnightSenior Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, Australia

Murdoch’s Politics

20 Mar.

Graham MeikleProfessor of Social Media,

University of Westminster

Social Media, Visibility and Activism: The Kony 2012 Campaign’

3 Apr.

Hannu NieminenProfessor of Media and Communication Policy, University of Helsinki

Challenges of convergence to media regulation: tools for analysis

Title: ‘Semantic Polling: Real-Time Public Opinion and the 2010 UK General Election’


Ben O’Loughlin, Professor of International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London

Nick Anstead, Lecturer, London School of Economics

Date: 6 February 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: What are the consequences of the Big Data revolution for electoral politics? We explore semantic polling, an approach to public opinion research based on the harvesting of large datasets from social media services and analysing those datasets using natural language processing, network analysis and other techniques to generate analysis of political opinions, attitudes and – potentially – behaviour. We explore how semantic polling was used and understood by parties, pollsters, social media analysts, journalists and regulators during the 2010 UK General Election. Our study is based on interviews with those professional groups, analysis of news media during the election period, and firsthand experience of conducting semantic polling. Semantic polling promises to enrich electoral politics since it allows real-time, segmented, qualitative understanding of public, naturally-occurring conversations about politics, yet based upon the quantitative analysis of very large datasets. However, data can be low quality and unrepresentative, analysis lacks reliability, and no presentation format has emerged that make findings intelligible to journalists and citizens. Interviewees label it a ‘wild west’, and regulators are barely aware it is being used. Our study is significant in several ways. First, if representations of public opinion can affect how members of the public view themselves (bandwagoning etc), then new types of representations may have new effects. Second, this is becoming another area colonised by party management and control. Third, it is an area that is difficult to regulate and which present ethical issues around data creation and use.


Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Co-Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is co-editor of the Sage journal Media, War & Conflict. His books include Radicalisation and Media: Terrorism and Connectivity in the New Media Ecology (2011) and War and Media: The Emergence of Diffused War (2010). He has carried out projects on media and security for the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. Ben has presented research to the No. 10 Policy UnitHome Office,Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeOFCOM, the European Commission and European Broadcasting Union, as well as expert groups like the Global Futures Forum. He has contributed to the New York TimesGuardianOpenDemocracySky News and Newsweek. He is a regular columnist for Global Policy. Ben is currently completing a study for the BBC evaluating the extent to which the 2012 London Olympics created a multilingual ‘global conversation’. (Email:; Twitter: @Ben_OLoughlin)

Nick Anstead is a Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, where his work focuses on the evolving nature of institutions, political communication and participation, and especially draws on comparative work. His work has been published in journals including The International Journal of Press / Politics, Information Communication and Society, and the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, while he also co-edited (with Will Straw) the 2009 Fabian Society pamphlet The Change We Need, which featured a foreword by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. During 2011-12, and with colleagues from the LSE, Nick worked on a European Union project funded by the EACEA entitledYouth Participation in Democratic Life which looked at both formal and informal politics. Nick blogs at and tweets @nickanstead.

Title: ‘Blow Up the Humanities’

Speaker: Toby Miller, Professor of Cultural Industries, City University 

Date: 27 February 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: There are two humanities in the United States. One is the venerable, powerful humanities of private universities; the other is the humanities of state schools, which focus mainly on job prospects. There is a class division between the two – both in terms of faculty research and student background – and it must end. These two humanities must merge in order to survive and succeed in producing an aware and concerned citizenry.

Biography: Toby Miller is a British-Australian-US interdisciplinary social scientist. He is the author and editor of over 30 books, has published essays in more than 100 journals and edited collections, and is a frequent guest commentator on television and radio programs. His teaching and research cover the media, sports, labor, gender, race, citizenship, politics, and cultural policy, as well as the success of Hollywood overseas and the adverse effects of electronic waste. Miller’s work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, German, Turkish, Spanish and Portuguese. He has been Media Scholar in Residence at Sarai, the Centrefor the Study of Developing Societies in India, Becker Lecturer at the University of Iowa, a Queensland Smart Returns Fellow in Australia, Honorary Professor at the Center for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, CanWest Visiting Fellow at the Alberta Global Forum in Canada, and an International Research collaborator at the Centre for Cultural Research in Australia. Among his books, SportSex was a Choice Outstanding Title for 2002 and A Companion to Film Theory a Choice Outstanding Title for 2004. Born in the United Kingdom and brought up in England, India, and Australia, Miller earned a B.A. in history and political science at the Australian National University in 1980 and a Ph.D. in philosophy and communication studies at Murdoch University in 1991. He taught at Murdoch, Griffith University, and the University of New South Wales and was a professor at New York University from 1993 to 2004, when he joined the University of California, Riverside. Miller is now Professor of Cultural Industries in the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management at the City University of London.

Title: ‘Reflections on the Digital Labour Debate’

Speaker: Christian Fuchs, Professor of Social Media, University of Westminster

Date: 6 March 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: Internet Eyes is a platform that outsources the monitoring of CCTV in shops to Internet users. Marketing campaigns are increasingly crowdsourced over the Internet with the help of platforms like Ideabounty. The creation of avatars for computer games is outsourced to young players in China (so-called “gold farmers”). Minerals needed for the manufacturing of ICTs are partly extracted from African mines under slave-like conditions (“conflict minerals”). The business model of Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc is based on targeted advertising that works by monitoring users’ activities. Wikipedia’s success depends on the voluntary collaboration of its users.

For understanding the power structures of phenomena that are connected to the rise of “social media”, a debate on digital labour has emerged in recent years. In this talk, I will reflect on ideas, concepts and issues from this debate. Important questions in this context are: What is labour? What is work? What is the difference between digital work and digital labour? How can these concepts be used for understanding “social media”? I will argue that we need the approach of a political economy of digital media in order to provide answers to such questions and that work and labour are crucial concepts for Critical Media and Communication Studies.

The talk is based on a recently published article that focuses on the role of Dallas Smythe’s thought for contemporary Media and Communication Studies and is available here: It also presents further reflections and ideas on related topics such as the use of digital media in the Occupy movement by posing the question what the role of commercial and alternative media is in this movement and if we here can conceptually speak of working class movement media or not.

Biography: Christian Fuchs’ research interests are digital media & society, information society studies, media & society. He is chair of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network 18 – Sociology of Communications and Media Research, co-founder of the ICTs and Society Network and editor of the open access online journal tripleC – Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. In February 2013,  he will take up a position as professor of social media at the University of Westminster’s Communication and Media Research Institute.

Title: ‘Murdoch’s Politics’

Speaker: David McKnight, Senior Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, Australia

Date: 13 March 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: Rupert Murdoch’s commercial success is obvious, but less understood is his  particular brand of conservatism. David McKnight’s book, Murdoch’s Politics, examines Murdoch’s support of conservative ideas, from Reagan and Thatcher to the Tea Party and to his campaign against Obama.  He examines the corporate culture of News Corporation: its private political seminars, its sponsorship of think tanks and its global editorial campaigns on small government and deregulation, on climate change skepticism, support for neo-conservative adventures such as Iraq and criticism of all things ‘liberal’.

Biography: Dr David McKnight is a senior research fellow at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.  His latest book is Murdoch’s Politics. A previous book is   Beyond Right and Left: New Politics and the Culture War . He co-editedGood Bye To All That? a study of neo-liberalism after the global finance crisis. His current research is on the future of newspapers and news.  He formerly worked as a newspaper and television journalist.

Title: ‘Social Media, Visibility and Activism: The Kony 2012 Campaign’

Speaker: Graham Meikle, Professor of Social Media, University of Westminster

Date: 20 March 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: On 5 March 2012, the 30-minute activist campaign film Kony 2012 was uploaded to YouTube by the US non-profit organisation Invisible Children. It was intended to mobilise support and action to stop the activities of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a paramilitary organisation founded in Uganda in 1987. Within its first week online, the film had been viewed 100 million times, the fastest any online video had ever reached that number, and had figured in more than 5 million tweets. Yet despite the 100 million views, and the millions of tweets, links, likes and shares, participation in the campaign’s planned mass action event on 20 April 2012 fell well below expectations, with media reports from around the world telling of tiny gatherings of supporters in empty public spaces.
The film and its accompanying campaign were both built around the affordances of social media — in particular, the Kony 2012 campaign illustrates the importance and centrality of questions of visibility in relation to social media. Social media bring with them new kinds of visibility, new opportunities and requirements to monitor and be monitored, to perform and display, and to connect with others who are newly visible to us and to whom we are ourselves in turn made visible. The case of Kony 2012illuminates some of the possibilities, the limitations and the dangers of a politics of enforced visibility or radical transparency. It also suggests that the use of a consumption model of social media activism is not necessarily going to translate into widespread offline action.

Biography: Graham Meikle is Professor of Social Media at the University of Westminster, UK. His most recent book, co-authored with Sherman Young, is Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life (2012)He is also the author of Interpreting News (2009) and Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet (2002), and co-editor, with Guy Redden, of News Online: Transformations and Continuities (2011).

Title: ‘Challenges of convergence to media regulation: tools for analysis’

Speaker: Hannu Nieminen, Professor of Media and Communications Policy, University of Helsinki

Date: 3 April 2013

Time: 2:00-4:00 pm

Room: A6.9, Harrow Campus, University of Westminster, Northwick Park tube (Metropolitan Line)

Abstract: The main question in my paper is:  from the viewpoint of the ideal of democratization of communication policy and regulation, how are we to understand the changes taking place in media & communication policies and regulation? Traditionally policies and regulation have followed sector-based logics (i.e. print, av-media, telecoms, recorded media). However, due to digitalization and computerization, sector-based approach appears to have lost much of its validity, and there is a drive for a new regulatory ideology with conflicting elements.

Some recent attempts to describe the emerging new regulatory environment include McQuail & van Cuilenburg’s (2003) thesis of the media policy paradigm shift and Hallin & Mancini’s (2004) prediction of the triumph of the North Atlantic liberal model of media system. There is not, however, consensus among researchers of the character and quality of the changes in European media policy. In my paper I develop a historically based approach to analyse these changes. I will apply the concepts of path dependence, policy transfer, multiple streams analysis, and politics of justification to chart the ways how policies and regulatory frameworks have historically emerged in the fields of media and communication.

Biography: Hannu Nieminen ( is professor of media and communications policy at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 in the University of Westminster, London. His research interests include media and democracy, theories of public sphere, and communication policy and regulation. Currently he is leading a Finnish Academy funded project “Facing the Coordination Challenge: Problems, Policies, and Politics in Media and Communications Regulation” (2011-2015). Professor Nieminen is a member of the European Science Foundation Pool of Reviewers (2010-). (E-mail address:

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