Read about a selection of our ongoing projects. For a full overview, please see the Norwegian site or contact us.
PREPARE: Distributed and prepared. A new theory of citizens` public connection networks in the age of datafication
In the last decade, societies across the world have been challenged by fragmenting public debate, fuelled by algorithmically steered social media and new threats of propaganda and misinformation. The dual tendencies of political apathy and polarization pose grave problems for a well-functioning democracy. As the social sciences appear unable to respond to the challenges of a seemingly ignorant and passive citizenry, PREPARE proposes a radically new approach to understand citizens’ role in democracy.
PREPARE fills a research gap on the impact of algorithmic media and datafied everyday life on citizens’ potential for political engagement. Current research on people’s connection to the public is predominately interested in measuring the political knowledge of so-called “informed citizens”, or studying the everyday micro-aspects of news media use. PREPARE changes the focus from each citizen’s “informedness” to develop and test a theory of distributed preparedness. The project will develop normative theory of citizens’ orientations to the sphere of politics in datafied societies: their networks for public connection. PREPARE’s research questions concern 1) how people stay prepared to engage with public issues, and 2) what resources they need to move from stand-by to engage.
Methodologically, the project focuses on qualitative methods and fieldwork integrated with digital methods, of groups of so-called disconnected citizens. The aim of the project is to allow research to constructively engage with improving democratic societies and civic awareness.
UMG: Understanding Male Gamers
Videogames and gameplay have traditionally been seen as a boys’ domain, a situation that is slowly changing as videogames have become a mainstream medium with a large and diverse player base. At the same time, game culture remains a contested space in which gender is taking a central role.
Previous research has been able to have provided valuable insight into problematic gendered practices in game culture, such as misogyny and gendered harassment. However, this research has focused on the experiences of women and there is very little research that has investigated male experiences of game culture as a contested, gendered space. While some researchers have explained the gendered contestation of game culture in light of a masculinity in crisis associated with the challenges to forge new and more flexible masculinities in the rise of a feminist consciousness, what lacks from these discussions is an awareness of how the negotiation of masculinity is connected to social processes of inclusion and exclusion.
In light of this gap in research, the objective of Understanding Male Gamers is to investigate male gamer experiences of game culture as a contested space, focusing on their subjective, lived experiences. We will study what games and play mean for establishing a masculine identity, including how men experience gender norms in game culture and to what degree they find that the demographic changes in game culture are challenging this.
Understanding Male Gamers, is led by professor Kristine Jørgensen, and is a collaborative project between the University of Bergen's department of Information Science and Media Studies, Western Norway Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University and the University of New South Wales.
Read more about the project here.
MUCS - Media Use in Crisis Situations: Resolving Information Paradoxes, Comparing Climate Change and COVID-19
MUCS studies media use in complex societal crisis situations, comparing the pandemic and the climate crisis. The project is a collaboration between media studies, human geography and journalism studies. We analyze how people in Norway encounter these issues in everyday life and in the media, where information is abundant across digital platforms.
The objective of the project is to resolve paradoxes in the communication of crisis in digital societies. Why do we accept drastic measures to fight the pandemic, while similar climate action is difficult to accomplish? There is extensive media coverage warning of a climate crisis, but we do not know enough about how this information is interpreted. The pandemic is perceived differently in terms of speed, proximity and impact on our lives. By comparing these cases, we learn more about information in different crisis situations, and build resilience in the face of future and unknown risks.
The project focuses on media use. Media are key to how experts and governing bodies communicate, and risk management depends on communication to mobilize and maintain trust. Social media, journalism, smartphones and digital platforms are all part of how citizens relate to society. We study these and other examples in a cross-media perspective, analyzing how Norwegians use a variety of media in their everyday lives. We are particularly interested in digitalization, and in understanding the challenges and opportunities new technologies bring forward to crisis communication.
The project conducts qualitative research, including interviews about media use pertaining to climate and COVID-19, and ethnographic studies of these issues in local communities in Norway. We collaborate with stakeholders in climate and crisis communication to develop actionable knowledge.
DIGISCREENS - Identities and democratic values on European digital screens
The international transdisciplinary project DIGISCREENS (2022-2025) focuses on how the streaming of films and TV series contributes to transform social and cultural dynamics in Europe. In particular, the project examines film and TV distribution, reception, and representation in the light of the last decades’ demands for increased diversity and inclusivity on screen. Digiscreens asks how the streaming of audiovisual content from a great geographical diversity affect: a) the construction of identity and socio-cultural aspects such as gender, race, class and sexuality in film and TV series distributed in Europe, and b) European audiences' reception of this content and negotiation of democratic values such as equality, inclusion, and solidarity.
Project DIGISCREENS is supported by research councils of Norway, Lithuania, Sweden and Spain, under CHANSE ERA-NET Co-fund programme, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement no 101004509.
Hilde Sakariassen: The tale of two cities – the duality of digital technology for inexperienced users in a societal crisis
This project will use the Covid-19 pandemic as a lens to research the experience of digital technology for inexperienced, or more specifically elderly, users.
The pandemic came with an abrupt and seemingly simple message of social distancing, which meant that social life and mundane everyday activities became increasingly digital. Although Norway is often referred to as a country with high internet penetration and digitally savvy inhabitants, not all people, particularly the elderly, have embraced digital technology and still rely on other modes of communication and physical interaction for performing instrumental tasks. During the pandemic, the elderly was particularly vulnerable not only for becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 but also from being cut off from social life and society at large. This project will focus on the elderly who had not incorporated digital technology into their everyday lives and their experience of a societal crisis that catapulted us further into digital spaces and services. As such, it is a project about the experience of adopting or resisting digital technology.
Qualitative methods, such as in-depth-interviews and ethnography, will be used as an audience-centred approach that focuses on experiences of using digital technology. This project will use the pandemic as a lens to explore experiences of an everyday setting that suddenly turned more digital, which provides an ample opportunity to understand the experience for late adopters of digital technology. How was such a digital leap experienced by those who have yet to embrace digital media fully?
As the title of the project suggests, duality is expected. The experience of digital technology can be a positive tale of connection and achievement, or the opposite, a tale of feeling cut off or out of tune with this increased digitalisation of society.
John Magnus R. Dahl
I am researching how the smartphone is part of the everyday life of teenage boys, and how the phone impacts how they socialize with each other and how they express themselves. At the core of the research is a long-term ethnographic fieldwork, where I have followed teens both in their physical everyday life - in a cafe, on the bus, at a party - and on various online platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Tiktok. I also plan smaller interview and platform studies stemming from the overarching fieldwork. A central finding is that there are two main ways of using the smartphone: The stranger-oriented, where one seeks to find new friends and contacts through digital platforms; and the familiar-oriented, where you use the internet to communicate with those you already spend time with at school and in your spare time. Another finding is that masculinities, how the boys want to appear as men, is particularly important for how they use smartphones and social media.
The project is part of the innovation centre MediaFutures, and I collaborate with the Norwegian public broadcaster, NRK, on methods development through discussions on ethnographic method, and by creating channels for knowledge exchange where insights from my base research can be useful for the work NRK does to be an important part of young people's lives in a period of major technological changes and subsequent changes in media use.
Ana Milojevic: Datafication, Media and Democracy: Transformation of news work in datafied society – DataMeDe
Milojevic holds a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship for the project Datafication, Media and Democracy: Transformation of news work in datafied society – DataMeDe.
DataMeDe examines the role of audience datafication in transformation of news-work. From one point of view, audience datafication leads to production of content that attracts audience, regardless of the informative, citizen value of news. From the other, it improves connection between journalists and audience, strengthening financial base of news-work. Existing scholarship is characterized by great conceptual divergence, conclusions mostly based on perceptions of journalists or editors, and largely unquestioned belief that audience datafication is closing the ‘news gap’ between journalists and news users. Borrowing from sociology of news, hierarchy-of-influences, and audience studies, DataMeDe aims to advance existing knowledge by conducting research at four interrelated levels: 1) individual journalist 2) newsroom structures 3) inter-organizational 4) reception level.
DataMeDe uses mixed methods approach, combining ethnographic observation and interviews at the first three levels, and survey with audience. Such multilayered perspective allows to: a) identify factors that influence differences in comprehension and utilization of audience data by journalists, editors, mangers, media-tech workers b) explore the gap between actual, and audience news preferences re-constructed by audience data. By shedding light on disconnections of journalism practice with executive decisions and audience preferences, DataMeDe will provide research-based evidence to inform policy debates about audience privacy and data-tracking, digital media literacy campaigns, media industry, journalism education development, while advocating for tools and practices that benefit public good and not just prosperity of media organizations.
Milojevic is also connected to MediaFutures: Research Centre for Responsible Media Technology & Innovation.
Young, man and gamer – a study of computer games, identity and masculinity
There is little knowledge on how young men experience and negotiate with what it means to be a gamer, and which identities and communities gaming creates and defines in today's Norway. The project studies this through focus groups with 30 young male players who are 16 to 19 years old. The project will research how gaming enter into negotiations about gender and identity, in a time where many have an experience and opinion about this, and where the online gaming cultures constitutes a central part of young mens life. It will focus on young mens emotional reactions to the increased diversity and the gendered politicization of the gaming discourse – and investigate how gaming related practices kan create foundation and belonging to certain identities and communities. One of the questions rised is the room the gamer-identity creates for maculinity, and how the target group can explore and negotiate it.
The project is led by Synnøve Lindtner and financed by Rådet for anvendt medieforskning (RAM).
Knowledge and information in the new public
How do scientists experience the task of sharing free and verifiable knowledge in todays society? And have peoples views on the limits of freedom of speech changed? The project focuses on freedom of speech's position in research and academia, on how scientists experience their right to speak, and experiences on researching and sharing information on topics of current interest in the norwegian public. Following up research from 2013 and 2015, the project also investigates where Norwegian draw the line for freedom of speech in 2020. The project is organized in five subprojects.
Fritt Ord is financing the research project. Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud from Institutt for samfunnsforskning is project leader. Hallvard Moe (UiB) is leading the subproject on "Trust, techonolgy and connection - freedom of information as a base for freedom of speech". Scienticts from UiO and NTNU also work on the project. Read more about it here. (In Norwegian)
Algorithm operated front pages
In spring 2019, the media house Schibsted introduced an algorithm which governs the front pages of many of the company's online news papers, like Bergens Tidende and Aftenposten. The algorithm is supposed to make sure readers are exposed to news they haven't read, but also contribute to an increase in earnings and subscriptions. Through a qualitative newsroom study, the project investigates norwegian news papers' experiences after a year with an algortihm operated front page. The project aims to look into how the algorithm works in practice, and how content, angle and quality are influenced by the algortihm, which includes click rates and reading numbers in the algorithm.
The project is led by Marianne Borchgrevik-Brækhus, and financed by Rådet for anvendt medieforskning (RAM).
Katharina Schütz: The creation and dissemination of queer youth culture online
This project seeks to research the creation and dissemination of queer youth culture online, specifically on video-creation platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels and Byte. Video content by self-identified queer content creators will be collected and analysed to reveal strategies in knowledge-production and identity- or community-formation. In order to foreground the producers themselves, I will also contact individual creators to gage their own sense of cultural production and media use. This will be studied under the theory of queer world-making, which describes how queer materials and rhetoric can contribute to queer culture, and how this generates a sense of queer futurity as well as positive, hopeful affects for the queer community.
With this research, I will add to the intersections of queer theory, digital culture and youth culture and generate valuable knowledge on the formation of digital communities as well as on the creation and dissemination of cultural knowledge online. This will fill gaps in knowledge about the platforms in question, but also on the social media use of marginalised communities who may rely on these avenues to generate a sense of community and futurity crucial for their survival.
Intrusive media, ambivalent users and digital detox (Digitox)
The Digitox project analyses digital disconnection and current questions pertaining to the extensive uses of digital media in society. The past few years have seen considerable changes in how we communicate and socialize, and digital media present us with constant dilemmas about what good media use is. While many studies focus on the positive sides of digital media, the Digitox project emphasises ambivalence, resistance and attempts at disconnection. The project employs interdisciplinary insights from media and communication scholarship, game studies and psychology to investigate digital media and the role they play in people’s lives.
The Digitox project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (FRIPRO). The project is a collaboration between multiple research institutions, including Brita Ytre-Arne and Hallvard Moe at UiB with Trine Syvertsen at the University of Oslo as principal investigator. Read more about the project here.
Depression: The Norwegian newspaper economy in the digital age
The newspaper industry is in turmoil and has been so for more than a decade. Advertising revenues are declining, physical print circulation is dwindling, and newspapers are still struggling to monetise their digital content effectively. Within this context of crisis and rapid technological change, my PhD project’s central aim is to examine Norwegian national newspapers’ financial strategies from a twofold perspective: the strategies’ economic viability, and the strategies’ social consequences. Examples of such social consequences include the public’s access to news (“paywalls” exclude non-subscribers), various editorial decisions (e.g. selection of target audiences, topics, tone of voice, sources), and, most importantly, the future of the journalistic profession. This dual focus is essential for understanding how newspapers may become economically sustainable under conditions of rapid technological change while at the same time fulfilling their civic responsibilities.
The project is funded by The Cambridge Trust and Rådet for anvendt medieforskning (RAM), with support from The Cambridge Department of Sociology, Jansons legat, and Michael Width Endresens fond.
The project is led by Tellef S. Raabe. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Professor Emeritus John B. Thompson. His dissertation is on the financial strategies of Norwegian national newspapers, and these strategies' societal consequences. Raabe is, more broadly, interested in media sociology, journalism, technology, media policy, political communication, and social theory (Bourdieu). His PhD is funded by The Cambridge Trust and Rådet for anvendt medieforskning (RAM), with support from The Cambridge Department of Sociology, Jansons legat, and Michael Width Endresens fond.