[Photo: Margus Ansu, Estonia 2017]
I am Professor of Political Communication in the Department of Communication and Media at Loughborough University, where I am Director of the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C). I am also the Director of Undergraduate Admissions for Communication and Media, the University’s Research Beacon leader for Political Communication, and I developed and launched Loughborough’s new MA Social Media and Political Communication, which had its first student cohort in September 2019.
Most of my research has explored the internet and newer media as they relate to three broad areas of political communication: political mobilisation, democratic engagement, and news and journalism. In recent times my work has focused on all three of these themes, and this is reflected in my latest book, The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power (Oxford University Press, 2013; Second Edition, 2017), which analyses the emerging integration and balance of power between older and newer media logics in political life. This book was the winner of the Best Book Award (2014) of the American Political Science Association Information Technology and Politics Section and the International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award (2016), which recognises an outstanding book on media and politics published in the previous ten years. The second edition of The Hybrid Media System published in August 2017, featuring an extensive new chapter applying the conceptual framework to the extraordinary 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the rise of Donald Trump.
I am currently writing my next book, Social Media and the Future of Democracy, which will be published by Oxford University Press.
Recently I completed two projects: one on on dual screening and political engagement (with Cristian Vaccari and Ben O'Loughlin) and another on social media and think tank authority, supported by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. For the work published from these projects see my articles page.
In addition to my next book, I am currently working on two new research projects: a project explaining the ingredients that enable the sharing of misinformation and disinformation on social media; and the establishment of a new research centre at Loughborough University, the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C).
My previous books include The Handbook of Internet Politics (Routledge, 2009; co-edited with Philip N. Howard)—a collection of over 30 chapters dealing with the most significant scholarly debates in this rapidly growing field of study (and the first publication of its kind)—and Internet Politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies (Oxford University Press, 2006), which was awarded the American Sociological Association Best Book Award (Communication and Information Technologies Section) and is among the most widely-cited books in its field. For more on my books, click here. I also co-edited (with Jennifer Stromer-Galley) a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics on digital media, power, and democracy in parties and election campaigns, which grew out of an international workshop we organised in Washington DC.
I founded and edit the Oxford University Press book series Oxford Studies in Digital Politics. I am a member of the UK Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group, the American Political Science Association “Information Technology and Politics” (APSA ITP) and “Political Communication” Sections, the European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on the Internet and Politics, and the International Communication Association’s “Political Communication,” “Journalism Studies,” and “Communication and Technology” Divisions. Currently I also serve on the editorial boards of New Media & Society, International Journal of Press/Politics, and Social Media + Society. I was also a member of the US National Science Foundation-funded International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policymaking.
My writing crosses disciplinary boundaries and has appeared in a wide range of edited books and scholarly journals, including the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Political Studies, Governance, Political Communication, The International Journal of Press/Politics, Media, Culture & Society, Parliamentary Affairs, Journalism, The Journal of Political Ideologies, Information, Communication and Society, and the Journal of Information Technology and Politics. You can download many of my articles here.
In 2013–14 I served (unpaid) as one of the original eight Commissioners on the inaugural Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which twice presented its work to Parliament and succeeded in securing some significant amendments to the government’s 2014 lobbying bill (known as the “gagging law”). Over the years, I have made a few print and broadcast media appearances, including on BBC Radio Four’s Thinking Allowed, The Moral Maze, and The World at One, as well as Sky News. I have very occasionally written for the British and U.S. press, including The Independent and the Washington Post, and my research has been covered by journalists in the UK, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, and Spain, among other countries.
In 2019 I became an advisor to Clean up the Internet, a new, independent, UK-based organisation concerned about the degradation in online discourse and its implications for democracy.
I have presented my work at many scholarly meetings in the United Kingdom and in twenty-three different cities outside the United Kingdom. I have given keynote speeches in Canada, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and invited lectures in Austria, Canada, Italy, Norway, Spain, the United States, at many universities across Britain, and at other public institutions including the Parliament of Canada, the UK Parliament, the UK Cabinet Office, the US Congressional Research Service, the RSA, the US Embassy in London, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the Institute of Historical Research, the European Parliament Information Office, the UK Labour Party, and Policy Network.
After growing up in the north east of England, I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, earning First Class Honours in Political Science. Following that, I moved to the London School of Economics, where I earned a Masters (with Distinction) in Government. I remained at the LSE to research and earn my PhD in the Department of Government under the supervision of Professor Rodney Barker. My doctoral dissertation was published as my first book—a study of the discourses and communication forms of British liberal, socialist, and feminist movements for democratic reform during the early twentieth century: Augmenting Democracy: Political Movements and Constitutional Reform During the Rise of Labour (Ashgate, 1999). This title was re-released in 2018 as part of the Routledge Revivals series.
After my PhD, my work turned toward interpreting and explaining the role of the internet in reshaping social and political life, and this has been my fascination for the last twenty years. For further details, please see my books page, my articles page, and my book series page.
I joined Royal Holloway, University of London as a Lecturer in January 2001 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2004 and awarded a personal Chair as Professor of Political Science in 2008. I have held a Visiting Fellowship at the Oxford Internet Institute and a Visiting Scholarship at the American Political Science Association Centennial Centre, Washington, DC. From 2006 to 2009 I served as Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway and led the rapid expansion of the department, which saw it more than double in size during those three years, as we laid the foundations for its emergence as a new centre of excellence in teaching and research. I founded and directed Royal Holloway's New Political Communication Unit from 2007 to 2017 and with my colleagues and co-directors Professor Ben O’Loughlin and Dr Cristian Vaccari I contributed to the Unit’s teaching and research projects and supervised several PhD students. I was awarded two Teaching Excellence Prizes at Royal Holloway, in 2006 and 2013.
In 2017 I was appointed to an Excellence 100 Professorship in the Department of Communication and Media at Loughborough University. The Times Higher featured me in a profile article. I founded the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C) at Loughborough in 2018.
For what I’ve been doing most recently, please visit my latest news page.