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Young people's creative understanding of their mediaworlds

ArtLab founder David Gauntlett was awarded funding for a two-year project, which ran from September 2008 to August 2010, to develop and use new creative and metaphorical methods to explore how young people make sense of their complex mediaworlds.

An introduction to the project appears below. From the main project page you can see other features including a diary and videos produced during the study.

From the University of Westminster press release:

David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications in the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of Westminster, has been awarded £188,365 to study how young people deal with their complex media environment.

The two-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will explore young people's experience of both using and creating media.

Gauntlett says that he is trying to move beyond academic models which see people as mere 'receivers' of the media. 'The traditional notion of the media "audience" has collapsed, especially for young people, as engagement with popular culture today means creating and sharing media, as well as consuming it,' he argues. 'The old models are now only partially useful. Today's media consumers can also be media producers, sharing images and music that they have created online, making online presentations of self - such as in Facebook or MySpace, collaboratively producing knowledge in wikis, and using various "Web 2.0" tools to communicate, to share information, ideas, and media materials, and to express themselves.'

He notes, however, that the project will not simply sign up to new media hype. 'We wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are still media audiences, and young people still want to be engaged and entertained by other people's finely crafted songs and well-told stories, produced by professionals. Not everything has to be interactive. This study is much more about how young people make sense of such a rich mix of diverse media, how they creatively respond to it, and what it means in their lives.'

The study will use innovative research strategies which will ask young people aged 14-16 to build three-dimensional models, using metaphors, to explain how various aspects of TV, music, movies, magazines, games, and interactive media fit into their lives and their understanding of themselves. This work builds upon Gauntlett's project, outlined in his book Creative Explorations (2007), in which adults were asked to build metaphorical models of their identities using Lego. He explains: 'We hope to develop insightful methods, where people are given time to express things that are meaningful to them. Most people don't respond well to a sociologist with a clipboard'.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds arts and humanities research in the UK.

This project builds on the work on new research methods outlined in the book Creative Explorations (2007).

A timetable for the research project appears below.

Project timetable

Back to > Mediaworlds main project page