Encyclopedia Media Effects

7 02 2017

Much of my research and writing time last year was dedicated to co-editing the Wiley Encyclopedia of Media Effects. Interestingly, I was asked to develop a whole section on critical media studies in the encyclopedia, especially dedicated to the question if and how media effects studies connect to critical media theory. Some critical propositions of how media work, explicitly adopt traditional hypodermic needle models and psychological socialization theories. Moreover, many critical media theories have implicit assumptions about how media work that resemble other psychological media effects theories. Those observations were my starting point for compiling and editing the critical sections in the encyclopedia, and we thus have entries about, among other things, critical authors like Brecht, Bourdieu and McLuhan and their implicit ideas about how media work, critical theories of racism and orientalism, and feminism and their effects-theories, and critical concepts like false consciousness or intertextuality, which also include ideas about how media influence people. I am altogether pleased with the outcomes, and hope all of this will be helpful to students, PhD candidates and even my seasoned colleagues.


Roessler, P., Hoffner, C. & :L. van Zoonen (eds). International Encyclopedia of Media Effects. Wiley-Blackwell

I contributed two entries myself, for which you can find the unedited author versions here:

False consciousness as a theory of media effects – link

Intertextuality and media effects – link

Doctoral degree for Mike de Kreek

27 01 2017

My PhD candidate Mike de Kreek succesfully defended his doctoral dissertation yesterday. Mike conducted his research while working at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences at the same time. He examined local memory websites and their meaning for the neighborhood: how do they achieve empowerment at individual, collective and cultural levels, and what does their particular organisational form has to do with that? The defense committee questioned Mike about the use of several theoretical concepts (such as cultural citizenship, empowerment and memory), and about the logic of his self-designed data scraper and analytic instrument. He was praised for his solid empirical work and the outcomes of his research, especially the comparison between two Amsterdam memory sites, each with a different kind of empowerment. The ‘Geheugen van Oost‘ is carried by a small, dedicated group of volunteers who cover a select group of historical themes that invite quite a lot of comments from neighborhood residents. The ‘Geheugen van West‘, on the other hand, has a wider and less solid group of volunteers, and draws less comments, but has a more diverse collection of memories.  Mike celebrated his achievements with a large group of volunteers from both memory sites, whom he took to the Rotterdam Storyhouse Belvedere.

P1260174 kopiex.jpg

Parts of Mike’s dissertation have been published already, below is a list of references and links for follow up:

Kreek, M.D. (2016). Collective empowerment through local memory websites: balancing between group interest and common good. Dissertation Erasmus University Rotterdam: PDF

Kreek, M. D., & Zoonen, L. van (2013). New directions in research on local memory websites. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice, 22(2), 113-130. PDF

de Kreek, M., & Oosterbroek, M. (2013). The Future of Local Memory Websites as Empowering Niches in Amsterdam. In Intelligent Environments (Workshops) (pp. 653-662).PDF

SHARED principles of engaging citizens in smart cities

13 01 2017

The current mantra in research and policy about smart cities is that citizen perspectives have often been ignored in smart city research, but that for smart technologies and big data to indeed improve city management, economic and environmental resilience and the quality of urban life, it is imperative to include citizen perspectives and interests in all their dimensions in smart city and big data applications. It is, however, often unclear who are meant with these ‘citizens’, what the purpose of their engagement is, and what qualifies as ‘good’ engagement. The SHARED principles proposed here, may be the beginning of thinking about criteria that one may want to consider when designing and evaluating citizen engagement. They include my own understanding and preferences in the debate, which I will (later) develop in a better substantiated article.

S of Sustainable

Citizen engagement needs to be invited and organised in a way that it will last longer than just the launch of a project, or the development of a program.

H of Harmonious

Citizen engagement needs to be organised in ways that are inclusive and do not contradict existing legislation, social policy and/or standard norms of good citizenship and civil behavior.

A of Affective

Citizen engagement needs to include acknowledgement of and respect for different emotional investments and concerns with respect to technology and data.

R of Relevant

Citizen engagement need to engage those people who are directly affected by and involved with smart city developments and projects.


Citizen engagement needs to be aimed at providing people with a better understanding what is going on, the intellectual and practical tools to form an opinion and assessment of it, and possibly, but not necessarily, the technical tools to participate in it.


Citizen engagement needs to acknowledge and accommodate the various dimensions of diversity in cities, including gender, ethnicity, class, disability, sexuality, religion.

New grant: Big Data and Reintegration

4 01 2017

Our Centre for BOLD Cities has been awarded a grant for researching and designing personalised reintegration strategies helping people from unemployment to paid labour, based on the individual capabilities of city residents who are entitled to social benefits. Such personalisation can be developed through anonymised linkage of various data sources, which is already frequently done in other disciplines, such as marketing, medication and political campaigning.

In the project, a prominent role will be played by client councils. In so-called ‘data dialogues’, they will join the conversation on the possibilities and risks of this innovative approach, especially concerning privacy issues.These dialogues are inspired by my work with the UK/ONS and the ESRC in prepation for their administrative data centers (see here: link).

The research project is financed by ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development. ZonMw invited a number of parties, including the Centre for BOLD Cities, to write a proposal on big data in reintegration, as part of their ‘Vakkundig aan het werk’ programme, which focuses on reintegration and health. The Centre’s proposal has been reviewed by a specialised committee, and was rated as scientifically sound and socially relevant.

For the proposal, titled ‘Reintegration in BOLD Cities’, we assembled a team with researchers from Leiden University (Marike Knoef),  Erasmus MC (Merel Schuring) and the city of Rotterdam (Maarten van der Kooij).

New chapter: Collective Digital Citizenship through Local Memory Websites

23 12 2016

My PhD candidate Mike de Kreek, who will defend his thesis next month, and myself published a chapter in a recent book about digital citizenship [click here]. It is based on Mike’s research about two local memory websites in Amsterdam: the Memory of East and the Memory of West. In the chapter we show how the two websites are able to facilitate collective empowerment to a certain degree by resisting dominant influences of memory institutions, commercial popular culture and local politics. They do so in different ways, however. The Memory of East developed into a well run website with only a few but diversely covered topics. However, this limitation unintentionally excludes residents who do not identify with these topics. The Memory of West, on the other hand, presents a more diverse set of topics, but draws less participation. We connect these different outcomes to the historically different ways in which the websites have emerged and have been organised. Using theories about civic culture by, among others, Dahlgren, we conclude that, ultimately, East was  better able to resist dominant local discourses and whereas West more representative for its neighborhood’s residents.


De Kreek, M. & L. van Zoonen (2016). Collective Digital Citizenship through Local Memory Websites. In A. McCosker, S. Vivienne & A. Johns (eds). Negotiation Digital Citizenship – Control, Contest and Culture (pp. 247 – 263). London: Rowmand and Littlefield.


Scientific advice for the European Commission

29 10 2016

The European Committee has installed a new scientific advice mechanism and has invited seven scientists to form a so-called high level group (link), that produces scientifically grounded opinion on pressing policy issues. This week they convened in Vilnius to discuss research in the area of identity management and cybersecurity. Pam Briggs from Northumbria University in the UK and I joined the meeting and shared quite a lot of our IMPRINTS results. Pam moderated the session about online and offline identities, and made sure that all scientific knowledge in the room was adequately shared. That was a challenge, evidently, because everybody spoke from different disciplines and sometimes disregarded the brief to speak on the basis of evidence rather than from opinion and experience (which even scientists find hard to avoid). Informed by our IMPRINTS and other research we both stressed the need to take everyday concerns and experiences of citizens into account. One of the consequences of such a starting point maybe that the focus should not only include data protection beforehand, but also that  that citizens would benefit from quick repair actions by the government when their data are abused, stolen or simply incorrectly administered. Governments could take an example from the credit card companies in that respect. I took that from the report I did for the Dutch government last year (link). My keynote focused on human error and sloppiness as a source of cyber-risks and I argued that the distance between our offline, narrative and communal sense of self is at a too wide distance from our online algorithmic identities, or better: identifiers. As a result we are likely to feel less sense of ownership and protection of our online identity. Pam and I agreed, in our coffee conversations, that there is an urgent need for online data streams about us to become more visible and tangible, if we want citizens to understand better what is going on, and engage more and more safely with their own data.

New chapter: Gendered Citizenship: Representations of women voters in newspaper coverage of UK elections 1918-2010

13 09 2016

It has taken a while, but finally the book came out with the chapter based on Emily Harmer’s PhD thesis: here is the abstract and it is available from Research Gate.

Contemporary research has shown the propensity for women voters to be constructed in highly gendered terms in media coverage of electoral campaigns. They are represented as mothers and wives, whose familial roles impact on their political priorities. This chapter will show that these trends have their roots in historic election coverage by presenting an analysis of British newspaper coverage between 1918 (the first election that women were able to vote and stand as candidates) and 2010. The chapter draws upon a quantitative and qualitative analysis of five national newspapers’ election coverage. The analysis shows women have been consistently represented as wives whose vote reflects that of their husbands, and as mothers whose political concerns are almost exclusively bound up with the health and wellbeing of their families. Much of the time, they are represented as being predominantly concerned about the cost of living, until the 1970s when health and welfare became the biggest concern. Despite some important changes, the persistence of heavily gendered representations in the public construction of politics is limiting as it serves to portray women in simplistic terms as a homogenous mass which excludes women who do not conform to these stereotypes.

Harmer, E. and L. van Zoonen. Gendered Citizenship: Representations of women voters in newspaper coverage of UK elections 1918-2010. In: Danielsen, H.,  Jegersted, K., Muriaas, L. & Ytre-Arne, B. (eds) (2016).  Gendered Citizenship and the Politics of Representation. London: Palgrave MacMillan, p. 161-185.