School of Communications

Postgraduate Research Students

Ester T. RouraName: Ester T. Roura

Supervisor: Dr. Declan Tuite

Project (working) Title: Mimesis. Performing autobiography in Social Media. A morphology of disclosure of the ubiquitous self by digital migrants in an Irish Context.

Summary of research Topic:
The purpose of my research is to understand how the self is being constructed in and by Social Networks. My starting point is a simple yet unanswered question: “Who am I?”. According to Goffman’s theory of self-presentation (1959) we are all actors continuously negotiating our personae (identities) depending on the social context. If Foucault were still alive he would probably see the remediated architecture of the panopticon in Social Networks. Through the act of sharing, which is the basis of social media, we make ourselves constantly visible, and this probably has some impact in the way we think and behave.

Manel Castells (2001) sees off-line sociability being transformed by online interaction. In this reading he formulates the idea of ‘networked individualism’ and describes virtual communities as ‘me-centered networks’ where sociability is ‘privatized’. The proliferation of closed-open networks, epitomized by Facebook, being platforms for individuals to produce, consume and gear towards others mediated reflections of self-identity. For Castells this scenario is a consequence of individuals being caught in the space of flows and becoming networks themselves. Hence the net is the self and what people do is to assemble ‘project identities’ to mirror their off-line project-based lives (Mimesis).

I will study the contribution of multimedia forms of autobiography in online social networks (SNS), as sites of production and reproduction of personal, social and cultural identity and as means of rethinking crucial individual and social issues. The objective of my research is to investigate the morphology of disclosure of new media autobiographical acts performed by “digital migrants” (understood as people born or that grow up before the widespread of digital technology and as opposed to digital natives) in online social networks in an Irish context, with the purpose of inquiring how the new technologies of self-knowledge, self-representation and self-promotion are shaping identity and confronting current (individual and social) issues.

My question(s) will be explored through a method of inquiry involving a combination of theory, traditional quantitative and qualitative research (semiotic & discourse analysis) and creative practice (transmedia artefact) with both practical and written outcomes.


Angela NagleName: Angela Nagle

Supervisor: Dr. Debbie Ging

Project (working) Title: An investigation into online anti-feminist subcultures

Summary of research Topic:
Recalling the early cyberfeminist optimism of Donna Harraway, this project seeks to examine the sexual politics of cyber-utopian ideologies in contemporary radical internet cultures. While new media giants such as Facebook and Google attempt to bring order - and profitability - to online chaos, a decentralised counterculture has emerged ostensibly to resist the take over of online space by the structures that define the physical world, from private property to manners and sexual propriety. Within this counterculture has also emerged a fanatical anti-feminism and extreme misogyny. Using a mixture of new technologies for gathering and collating online information and theoretical approaches - Huyssen (1986), Dean (2013), McRobbie (1980), Reynolds and Press (1990), Carey (2012), Thornton (1996) - this project investigates anti-feminism within these online countercultures and subcultures its relationship to ongoing current debates about anonymity, disembodiment, the internet as the new public sphere and the internet as an emancipatory technology.


Aileen-O-DriscollName: Aileen O'Driscoll

Supervisor: Dr. Debbie Ging

Project (working) Title: Learning to sell sex? A cultural sociological analysis of gender and sexuality in the educational and workplace cultures of advertising students and practitioners in Ireland

Summary of research Topic:
This doctoral project will address how advertising students - the next generation of advertising practitioners - understand and engage with questions of representing gender and sexual orientation in advertisements. It furthermore aims to establish whether there is a need for specific modules in advertising education which address the ideological, political and ethical significance and impact of representing group and individual identities in particular ways.

With this in mind, the research will explore general attitudes to gender norms and sexuality among advertising students and practitioners and compare these with more specific responses to gendered and sexual images and discourses within advertising texts. I will also interview participants about their perceptions of the creative process, with particular attention to how external factors – client briefs, gender dynamics of the creative team, awareness of ethical guidelines, dominant gender discourses from the wider culture (e.g. postfeminism, Lad Culture, LGBT rights, political correctness, ‘pornification’) – impact upon and / or are perceived to impact upon the creative process and, in turn, the final product..


Pat HongName: Pat Hong

Supervisors: Dr Pat Brereton, Dr Pádraig Murphy

Project Title: Stakeholder Communication in Sustainable Development- A case study of the Irish Green Way

Summary of Research Topic:
Due to its ‘wicked’ nature, addressing multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary aspects in the paradigm of Sustainable Development requires contributions and collaborations of all stakeholders involved. It is argued in this study that an effective stakeholder communication model is essential to drive Sustainable Development.

In this study, the main research objectives are to investigate the discourses of Sustainable Development, the communication activities and processes of relevant stakeholders involved in Sustainable Development practices with an Irish context, and then propose an effective communication model. This study applies a mixed-method approach, triangulating qualitative research methods with quantitative methods. The literature review and the pilot study (which includes semi-structured interviews with Irish stakeholders and sampled data analysis) in Sustainable Development first highlight the core definitions and discussions of Sustainable Development issues. A conceptual and theoretical framework is then established from a combination of canonical theories and empirical results from the pilot study to describe the totality of stakeholder communication in Sustainable Development in the current Irish context. Last, Q-methodology, a research method that highlights the subjectivities of individual perceptions, is applied in an Irish case study The Green Way, to answer the main research questions with both qualitative and quantitative instruments.

The end result of this study illustrates and provides a holistic overview of Sustainable Development issues most relevant to Irish Green Corridor stakeholders. It also proposes a communication model which includes guidelines, strategies, and protocols for stakeholders to effectively communicate Sustainable Development issues.


Name: Brenda McNally

Supervisors: Dr Pádraig Murphy, Dr Pat Brereton

Project Title: Media(tion) and Low Carbon Transition: An investigation into public engagement at the interface of technoscience, market and society ( Ireland, 2000 – 2013)

This PhD project focusses on a new site of interest to climate change research and action: the transition to a low carbon future and decarbonisation (the processes of carbon reduction). The aim is to investigate the social shaping implications of media(ted) public engagement about low carbon transition. To do so, the research examines to what extent media(ted) discourses open up or close down potential for wider citizen involvement (ie) what public(s) are asked to think about and do. This is a significant topic for communications research because of the rising numbers of those now ‘engaged in engaging’ the public with ideas about a post-carbon future and specifically in Ireland as this is mainstay of climate change policy. Thus this study argues research is urgently required to understand how key social actors discourse circumscribes societal expectations and future imaginaries about what is also a radical social transformation, involving significant changes to the way we live and how we think about the good life.

To address these issues the thesis examines the relationship between media(tion) and public engagement with low carbon transition in both the traditional and virtual public sphere. The empirical analysis sheds light on how and why media(ted) public engagement influences the symbolic environment through an analysis of i) the creation of expectations and ii) formation of public(s).

The study draws on a variety of qualitative methods to analyse key social actors’ media(ted) public engagement. In particular, it employs Dryzek’s Components Framework (2005) – an inductive method for discourse analysis - to trace the emergence of discourses of decarbonisation and low carbon transition and then assesses the implications on the symbolic environment. In doing so, this PhD thesis contributes to research in critical public engagment studies by mapping out and reflecting on public engagement at the interface of technoscience, market and society. The research findings will also be of interest to policy-makers and communications practitioners, as they provide critical insight into the wider socio-cultural and -political context and can be used to inform the development of successful transition pathways and help build transformative capacity required for climate change adaptation.


Christopher Doughan Name: Christopher Doughan

Supervisor: Dr. Mark O’Brien

Project Title: Journalism and the War of Independence in the Provincial Press

Summary of Research Topic:
This research examines in detail the coverage of the Anglo-Irish conflict between 1919 and 1921 in provincial newspapers, considering such issues as circulation, political bias and censorship. It also examines what the war meant for journalists and journalism by investigating how provincial newspapers and their editors and reporters addressed difficulties such as maintaining impartiality, pressure from both warring factions, and threats of closure by the authorities.

The study will additionally seek to establish the extent of divergence between individual titles in the manner in which they reported in the military conflict. Where relevant, the reasons for such divergence – political affiliation, proprietorial influence, threats and intimidation etc. – will be fully investigated. Finally this research seeks to discover whether the coverage of the War of Independence in the provincial press changed as violence increased and hostilities intensified and, if significant change took place, what factors brought about this change. Ultimately this thesis will outline for the first time, what the War of Independence meant for the provincial press and journalism in Ireland.


Steve Conlon Name: Steve Conlon

Supervisor: Dr. Mark O’Brien

Project Title: The critical history of the Irish Student Movement

Summary of Research Topic:
This project critically examines the evolution and development of the Irish student movement and the contribution it has made to modern Ireland. It will examine the shifting attitudes and perceptions of students and asks what social cohesive value the movement has and what role it can play within the participatory democracy environment.
It will trace the roots of the student movement, but not just within the confines of the recognised national organisation (USI); it also looks at the establishment of grassroot and fringe student organisations throughout the identified period of traceable student organisation on the island of Ireland.
The project examines why students believed it was necessary to organise and demand representation. It examines its stance on issues such as the preservation of Georgian Dublin, apartheid, civil rights, contraception, divorce, and abortion. It ascertains what level of power the movement had in influencing public opinion and policy, and whether this influence translated into tangible benefits for the student body or society as a whole..


Name: Henry Silke

Supervisors: Farrel Corcoran

Project Title: Media and Political Power: the Role of the Independent News and Media Group in Representing Economic Crisis and Social Conflict in Ireland: 2008-2011.

Summary of Research Topic:
This project is concerned with the structure, content and political role of the Irish press during the current economic crisis. To do so the research will fuse the methodology of political economy (Castells 2009, Chakravartty and Schiller 2010, Fuchs 2009, Garnham 2004, McChesney 2007, Mosco 2009, Curran 2002) with that of critical content and discourse analysis (Fowler 1991, Garnham 2000, Hartley 1982, Philo 2007, Fairclough 2007, Richardson 2007). From political economy the project draws on theories of political structure, economic structure, power, ideology, and hegemony (Arrighi 2005, Wallerstein 1974a, Foucault 2000, Held 1989, Marx 2010, Miliband 1969, Lukes 1974, Althusser 1971, Eagleton 1991, Gramsci 1971/2003, Hall 1986). The study will develop a method of contextual discourse analysis drawing from Glasgow Media Group and Critical Discourse Analysis scholars. To explore the relationship between structure and content the study will perform a case study of the content of the Independent News and Media group. Independent News and Media is the dominant print media group in Ireland, its major shareholder Tony O’Reilly has extensive business interests, it is alleged by some that O’Reilly has used his media empire to leverage the state in favour of his interests, specifically in the granting of communication and hydrocarbon exploration licences (Connolly 2006, Cooper 2009).