Here are a list of recent links to research publications and other documents. As an advocate of open research and collaborative development these publications are self-published via Amazon Kindle Direct, and available as e-books at no, or a minimal cost. Or, they are published with partner organisations as part of their publication collections.

Watson, Rob (2021), ‘FUTURES on Air: Community radio and public engagement’, Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture, 12:1, pp. 113–21,

Rob’s review of social value policy: Media for Social Gain and Innovation – A Literature Review of Social Value Policy Guides

Watson, R. (2019). Media for Social Gain and Innovation – A Literature Review of Social Value Policy Guides. Retrieved from Leicester:

Why is the principle and practice of social value relevant to the sustainable and resilient future of community, local and civic media in the UK? The social economy represents a change in the way we handle the long-standing and deep-rooted social, political, environmental and economic challenges in the developed and developing world. In the past it would have been relatively easy to predict how our social and economic models of business and social engagement would work in practice. To some extent there were easily identifiable winners and losers, alongside easily identifiable villains and victims. In the past political differences where easy to characterise as between the interests of those who are business friendly or those who are worker friendly, with their associated cultural differences that tapped into inherited cultures and community expectations.

Now, though, the complex levels of global interaction, alongside the increasingly dynamic nature of social communication, combined with the high levels of cultural diversity, means that contemporary citizens are expected to assimilate and grasp a picture of society that is noticeably more complex and multifaceted than in previous times. Given these challenges, this is clearly an opportune time to rethink how models of public and institutional trust are enacted in our community and social lives, and how news, community discussion and civic deliberation can be supported and enhanced. In the light of the aforementioned challenges, a useful starting point will be to identify and map-out the values and principles that might help provide, if not a complete solution, then at least a partial solution to some of these problems?

If we are to enhance the social processes and technologies that support democratic and civic engagement, what can we learn from discussions and debates about blockchain technologies, and how might they be used to help us reappraise existing and emerging forms of media engagement? If we do this, in what way might it be possible to reconfigure our media in order to maximise the principles of trust and validation that are essential to the common good and a healthy community life?


Rob’s Guide to Symbolic Interactionism – An Analytical Approach

Watson, R. (2018). Symbolic Interactionism – An Analytical Approach. Retrieved from Leicester:

Identifying techniques for understanting socially produced forms of media is being challenged as more forms of media production are generated by participants in media communities themselves. This paper summarises some of the key debates and themes of the symbolic interactionis appraoch as a way of developng a better understanding of how we use media.





Rob’s Guide to Sociological Principles for Media

Watson, R. (2018). The Sociological Return: Methodology and Social Media. Retrieved from Leicester:

In an age of social media finding an evaluative approach that explains the practical nuances of the lived experiences of social media users is complex and difficult. This paper explains how a pragmatic approach to the ethnographic study of social media can insight into how and why social media is used in the way that it is.





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

Watson, R. (2018). Participation and Advocacy in Community Media. (Doctorate). De Montfort, 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.