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Rob’s PhD Thesis: Particpation and Advocacy in Community Media (2018) De Montfort University, Leicester.

Community media is less well funded, supported and researched than other forms of media, and yet it holds considerable potential as a transformative experience and as an agent for social change. This thesis explores how the process of participation in community media represents an opportunity for reinvigorated democratic and civic conversations about issues of concern to local communities, particularly in relation to the idea of participation and advocacy.

This thesis contests mainstream media studies discourse by asserting that it is in paying attention to the lived experience and the accomplishments of people acting in lifeworlds and intimate social networks, rather than simply looking at texts, legal frameworks and institutions, that it is possible to develop a wider understanding of changes in media and digital media production situations, particularly those defined by notions of participation, activism and agency.

The study uses an ethnographically-informed mixed-methods design that incorporates participant observation, interviews and reflexive engagement. It is founded on principles of pragmatically informed symbolic interactionism, which suggest that it is possible to attend to the unfolding of human actions and understandings as they are accomplished in the collective expression of community life that are shaped by neutral social processes.