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.


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: Climate Change, Sustainability and the Social Script: Mass communication and social participation in the transition to a low carbon society

This PhD project explores the impact of the rising climate change and environmental sustainability agenda on citizen engagement using a qualitative analysis of mass media(ted) communication about future climate sustainability in Ireland (2007-2012). The study analyses the proliferation of social actors now talking about engaging the public in climate change and environmental sustainability by asking what do these calls for greater public involvement amount to in practice and how does mass communication shape (potential) citizen engagement in the transition to a low carbon society?

The purpose of the research is to investigate the use and influence of mass communication about climate change and the transition to a low carbon society on meaning-making about and performance of (potential) citizen participation. The research responds to calls for more critical analysis of social participation, and in particular for research that questions the positive value assumptions associated with calls for public involvement by identifying whether the goal of public communication initiatives is ‘social acceptance or social participation’. To do so, the research analyses the key social actors on-line public communication campaigns as well as media representation and policy formation about climate change and the transition to a low-carbon future. This research is funded by the Daniel O’Hare Scholarship.


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: Barbara Pięta

Supervisor: Dr. Barbara O’Connor

Project Title: Representing Women: Discourses, Images,
and Realities in Irish Political Life

Summary of Research Topic:
This research is a part of an interdisciplinary project entitled Representing Women: Discourses, Images, and Realities in Irish Political Life, which sets out to investigate the factors contributing to the atypically low number of women in Dáil Éireann. The PhD in question aims to approach this topic from the media studies perspective. The main research objective is to examine the extent and nature of media coverage of women in Irish politics at local and national level with a view to establishing
(a) the key frames used for representing women in politics;
(b) whether, and to what extent, media coverage reflects political representation and;
(c) whether women are portrayed in the same or different way then men;
(d) the extent and nature of gender stereotyping in the representations.
A dual methodological approach is planned for the work package on media representations. A purposive sample of press and television representations will be selected and studied by means of
(a) quantitative content analysis techniques and
(b) qualitative techniques in the form of critical discourse analysis, as well a semiotic analysis of the visual images in both press and TV coverage.
Barbara is currently involved in the Representing Women Project


Name: Fergal Quinn

Supervisors: Steven Knowlton and Paschal Preston

Project Title: Models of media encouragement in the developing world:
How Cambodia offers an example and a warning

Summary of Research Topic:
The 2008 national elections in Cambodia offered a fourth chance to assess the progress of the international community’s rebuilding project that has been engaged in the country since the disastrous Khmer Rouge regime.
Chief among the findings of numerous international observers was that the media had failed to keep the electorate fully informed in a balanced and fair manner in the pre-election period.
My study explores how and why this could happen in a country in which the most modern thinking on media development theory has been in full effect for the past 20 years.


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).