The Policy and Political Economy research theme, focused on issues of policy, regulation, ownership and control over communication outlets and infrastructure, has a long history at the University of Westminster, whose work in this area has earned it a strong international reputation since its inception in the 1970s. Then, renowned scholars such as James Curran, Colin Sparks and Nicholas Garnham pioneered the approach that Curran characterised as the “Westminster School” when he described its rise in a book chapter published in 2004. Members of the Westminster School’s first generation founded the journal Media, Culture & Society in 1979.
Today, the Westminster tradition of political economy of communication and communication policy analysis is organised in the form of a research theme within the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). It has several distinct characteristics:
- Critical: The Westminster approach conducts critical studies of the political economy of communication and communication policy. It aims to better understand the dynamics, contradictions, contexts, structures, practices and history of communication power relations.
- Impactful: The Westminster approach examines real world problems. It studies the roles, dynamics and trajectories of communication policies both (sub)nationally and internationally with the aim of advancing policies in the public interest. Our communication policy research has an established track record of impact. CAMRI members, called upon regularly for expert advice and input in national and international policy circles, work through the CAMRI Policy Observatory with policy makers, parliamentarians, activists and civil society groups, industry, think tanks, and other external organisations.
- Progressive: The Westminster approach has a broader purpose. It advances scholarship and research that aim to have progressive impacts on society through the advancement of democratic communication(s), a democratic public sphere, media plurality and public interest media.
- Digital: The political economy of digital media and digital capitalism is a particular research interest.
- International: The Westminster approach has a strong interest in analysing the interactions of policy and the political economy of communication at the global, international, national and local levels. Our research testifies to the depth and breadth of our international reach.
Work in the Policy and Political Economy research theme covers a wide range of topics, including: public service media; children’s media; internet governance and platforms; artificial intelligence; communication infrastructures; media industries, alternative and not-for profit media initiatives; creative and digital labour; digital democracy and the digital public sphere; digital surveillance; the political economy of communication in authoritarian regimes; sustainability of high quality and professionalised journalism; policies in the context of global communication; and trust, facts, fiction and ideology in the age of mis/disinformation.
- Continue to conduct world-leading and impactful research on the political economy of communication and communication policy.
- Collaborate with the CAMRI Policy Observatory to enhance the impact of the Theme’s research in society.
- Apply for externally funded research.
- Contribute to and influence progressive and informed policy making in communications through interactions with society, industry, relevant legislators and policy makers.
- Offer a participatory and inclusive public platform in order to co-develop and disseminate research in the form of events, publications, public discussions, seminars, policy workshops, symposia, and reading groups.
- Attract world-class research students and international visiting researchers.