Dr Hilde Stephansen

Dr Hilde Stephansen

I joined the University of Westminster as Lecturer in Sociology in September 2014. I have a PhD in Sociology, MA in Social Research, and BA in Communications and Sociology, as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in the Management of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (all from Goldsmiths, University of London). Previously, I have worked as a researcher at the Open University and at Goldsmiths, and taught sociology at Goldsmiths. During Spring 2019, I was a guest researcher in the Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Since 2020-21, I have been an Academic Professional Development Fellow in the University's Centre for Teaching Innovation (CETI).

I am a political- and media sociologist whose research is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between media and communication, social processes of knowledge production, and democratic participation. I am particularly interested in the changing nature of contemporary public spheres and new opportunities and challenges for democratic participation linked to the rise of digital networked technologies. With a particular focus on citizen media, media activism and social movements, I approach the study of digital technologies from a critical, socially grounded perspective that takes media practices as a starting point and understands these as embedded within wider social practices and relationships. Running through the different strands of my work is an interest in how media and communication practices can contribute to the formation of publics at different scales, and how such publics can facilitate broader social processes of pedagogy and learning.

My current research focuses on media activism in transnational social movement networks and the implications of such activism for how we might understand the notion of a 'global public sphere'. I am writing a book on this topic called Global Media Activism, to be published by Routledge. I am also exploring the significance of 'media practice' perspectives for research on citizen- and social movement media, and I am the co-editor of Citizen Media and Practice: Currents, Connections, Challenges (Routledge, 2019). I have also been a consultant editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media.

Prior to joining Westminster I worked at the Open University on a research project called Creating Publics, which focused on the 'public' in contemporary forms of participation and public engagement. I have also worked in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths on Storycircle, an action research project about the social and digital conditions for narrative exchange and knowledge production. 

PhD students

  • Dan Petrosian - Anti-racist video activism: framing and production of new knowledges that challenge the post-truth hegemonic project (completed 2023).
  • Ed Hadfield - Place and publicness: How social media has shaped anti-gentrification campaigns in London (2020-2024).

I am interested in supervising PhD students in areas including social movements, media activism, citizen media, publics and public sphere theory, and democratic participation.

In brief

Research areas

Social Movements, Media activism, Citizen media, Public sphere theory and Media practices

Supervision interests

Media activism, citizen media, social movements, the public sphere, democratic participation