Research

My research addresses the nature of urban life in an increasingly mediated world. This focus, at the junction of urban and media studies, has led me to connect to debates across several disciplines, including media and cultural theory, geography, sociology, science and technology studies, political theory and philosophy.

My current research focuses on the apparent convergence between digital platforms and the making of contemporary urbanism and locality. I am particularly interested in how the architectures and ordinary uses of social media platforms are beginning to remediate how publics – including professionalised fields such as urban planning – experience and articulate urban transformation. One way I am exploring these interests is through an EPSRC-funded pilot project titled Planning, Participation and Social Media Platforms, which explores the (often polarised) social media commentary surrounding the ‘Mini-Holland’ transportation scheme in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. This project, in collaboration with Dr Susan Moore (PI) and Dr Andrea Ballatore, uses a cross-disciplinary methodology that combines big data analytics (natural language processing, social network analysis) with ‘small data’ qualitative methods (digital ethnography, in-depth interviewing). A related small research project, recently concluded, focused on Nesta’s Destination Local programme, as a case study into the attention policymakers and philanthropic organisations are currently directing towards ‘hyperlocal’ media, particularly as it intersects with location-based media devices, platforms and data.

A more longstanding area of research interest is the ways in which urban spaces have been a longstanding focus for, as well as a milieu of, professional and amateur journalism. I am currently working on a book titled Media and Urban Public Life which focuses on the geographies of journalism, technology and transformation. Though centred on an ethnography of the Toronto Star within the wider Toronto media scene, this book goes beyond news-making or news content per se, exploring the genealogies, infrastructures, architectures and lived spaces of journalism in and through the city.

Another way to describe my work is to list what can only be described as recurring fixations. The first of these is an interest in the specificity of ‘the urban’, and especially how media practices and technologies might be seen as basic conditions of possibility for an urban politics or urban public culture. Secondly, as a geographer by training, I’m interested in critical dialogues between spatial thinking and media theory. Finally, I tend to think about most of my research as studying the relationships between social practices and material or technological environments. In this respect, I have theoretical and methodological interests in broad areas such as practice theory, ethnomethodology, actor-network theory, phenomenology, object-oriented ontology and new materialist media theories.

Read more about my publications and research projects.

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