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Projects or themes in this area include one or a combination of: critical theory, public cultures and policy. They include various specialisms such as social theory, media policy and the regulation of public service media in the UK, lobbying and interest groups viewed through the lens of the media, the idea of urban spaces, the modern city and how political ideas manifest themselves in our art and culture (media).

Social theory includes Sociology of knowledge, social constructionism, Grounded Theory, social world analysis, participant observation, and life history; classical Psychoanalysis; and Musicology – popular music studies and jazz studies.

The contemporary city brings different critical strands to bear on the examination of its socio-political and cultural forms. The death of the modern, social democratic notion of the city, and accounts of sex, death, labour and expenditure in post-industrial urban space. We compare ‘post-conflict’ Belfast with a number of European cities informed by spatial theorists, filmmakers as well as older critiques of urban modernity. This includes the cultural, economic and political geography of the city of Belfast, exploring how capital gets spatialised and dramatised.

We look at the problem of how political ideas get ideologically reproduced in art and culture, broadly construed (that is, in film, news, language, painting, architecture and the built environment and everyday life), public cultures and policies like lobbying and interest groups from the perspective of the industry itself and indeed from the perspective of the public through their portrayal in popular media. This builds on existing academic literature on the portrayal in films, TV series and novels as aspects of political systems. This strand also interrogates the underlying political and economic questions of the governance framework of public media corporations like the BBC and ultimately how the relationship between arts and media has shaped cultural policy in Northern Ireland.