Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

Reframing the nation

‘Reframing the nation’ focuses on the changing meanings of the nation in contemporary societies characterised by shifting patterns of migration, diaspora formations, social diversification and transnational flows of media, ideas, objects and symbols.

Convenor: Prof Marie Gillespie

What do we study?

In this new phase of our CReSC research we will continue to reframe questions about the changing place of the nation state in a global world in the light of theories of transnationalism, migration and diaspora.

However, we are extending our recent focus on British international institutions (BBC World Service, British Council) to develop a series of comparative projects exploring issues of citizenship, security and diplomacy in new contexts via these three following intersecting strands of research. 

International News and Global Citizenship

These projects examine the intersections of geopolitical, technological and organisational change via promising new partnerships that we have recently established with France Media Monde, Deutsch Welle, Al Jazeera and Russia Today. We will continue to use our distinctive ‘critical events’ framework to explore how political, religious and cultural conflicts are framed and negotiated in the contact zones of international news. We use mixed, mobile and experimental methods (including collaborative and organisational ethnography, audience research, social media monitoring and big data analyses, image and discourse analysis).

International Cultural Relations in a Digital Age

These comparative projects examine the changing investment in, nature and value of (economic and cultural) of international cultural relations work carried out by the British Council’s European counterparts (The Alliance Francaise and Goethe and Swedish Institutes) and Rising Powers (Russia and China and their Russkiy Mir Foundation and Confucius Institutes).

The Public life of Methods

This strand of research develops our work on digital social science methods in order to understand how research methods and uses of data shape organisational strategy and practices. It looks at how publics are brought into being, managed and regulated.

Partnerships between academic researchers at the OU and broadcasters have proved to be a particularly fertile ground on which to develop new methods appropriate to new media and communications that deliver insights around, for example, balancing economic and cultural value.

Building on new partnerships we hope to develop a nascent but potentially transformative digital social science.

What concepts do we use?

Transnationalism offers an analytical vantage point to further our comparative and historical research on national multicultures, avoiding the essentialising pitfalls of studies of ‘race relations’ and ‘ethnic communities’. It assists our historical enquiries by enabling us to study imperialism, post-colonialism and cosmopolitanism ‘in reverse’, contesting simplistic conceptions of cultural or media power as plain domination, or cultural change as reducible to technological innovation.

Such critical perspectives can produce a nuanced picture of transnational cultural exchange in and around national institutions, at different historical moments and in relation to critical events and policy challenges associated with migration, citizenship and securitisation.

Cosmopolitanism is increasingly important in debates about nations, human rights, and global citizenship. Critiques of methodological nationalism call for a cosmopolitan sociology. We bring together biographical and qualitative methods, with forms of quantitative and institutional analysis to investigate the politics, aesthetics and ethics of invisible and emergent cosmopolitanisms. We mobilise multiple, multimodal points of entry into understanding the complexity of national, diasporic and transnational identities and cultures as they evolve over time, place and space.

Convergence provides a lens through which we analyse the rapidly eroding distinctions between national and transnational media platforms, devices, forms of content and information, and the bodies, identities and social practices that help constitute and frame them.

We argue that while convergence is radically changing the character of the social, it is not without precedent, and must be theorized in its social and historical contexts. Using a range of methods rooted in biographical, narrative, quantitative, anthropological, documentary and historical analysis we analyse how converged digital media, culture and transnational communication networks, regulative regimes and forms of cultural and expressive work, play crucial roles in the production, circulation and consumption of the (trans)national.

Recent events

The Paris Attacks and Eyewitness Media, Legal and Ethical Issues for International News Providers (PDF 385BK, opens in a new window). In March 2015 The Open University and Eyewitness Media Hub hosted a closed forum for invited journalists to discuss the main challenges of using eyewitness media during breaking news events. With a central focus on the Paris attacks in January 2015, the event was conducted under the Chatham House Rule and was attended by around 40 journalists working in international news organisations and academics.  Participants were encouraged to share the ethical, legal and logistical issues that they encountered when handling photographs and videos sourced from the social web.

Find out more 

Scarves in the colours of countries

Examining the changing place of the nation state in a global world