Comprehensive studies in the media and cultural industries have taken a significant place in social sciences worldwide over the past 15-20 years. According to SciVal (Scopus), since 2000, the total number of publications in this field of research has increased by more than 6 times (from 6,500 to more than 40,000) owing to the multidisciplinary nature of this field. Most other research areas in social sciences have not shown such growth rates over the same period.
In terms of media and mass communications, HSE University is focused on various key thematic areas in line with today’s global academic agenda.
Research on “Mediatization”
“Mediatization” refers to all aspects of social life that have become mainstream in this field over the past five years, i.e. expansion of media impact to other types of activities (e.g., transportation, health care, everyday life, food services, etc.), which acquire new symbolic meanings owing to digital platforms. Generally speaking, the following fields are well enough represented at HSE University:
- gamification and interactivity of media content as new formats and expressive means of media aesthetics and communications. Researchers at the School of Media, jointly with the Centre for Digital Cultures and Media Literacy, are actively engaged in research with respect to the transformation and mediatization of museum art. This field is being developed in partnership with Tallinn University, Jönköping University (Sweden), Södertern University (Sweden) and several other universities in Central Europe. Today, HSE University is a leading centre in the field of research with respect to multimedia aesthetics, as well as new media and emerging forms of media cultures;
- media literacy and digital competencies in perception of media content, etc., are conducted jointly with the Centre for Digital Cultures and Media Literacy and foresee studies of mythologies and discourses in mass culture, among other things, created by media. This area is actively being developed jointly with such global centres as the University of Barcelona and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.
In future, there are plans to develop this field through:
- exploring strategies for the dissemination and reception of fake news on different digital media platforms, as well as their social impact, etc. Interdisciplinary cooperation with experts in neuroscience is planned with respect to this issue. HSE University is already engaged in joint projects with the University of Warsaw, Södertern University (Sweden), University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas and George Mason University (Washington, USA). Furthermore, joint research grants are being developed with respect to this topic;
- mediatization in education, this topic is being actively developed on the basis of the School of Media and the Laboratory of Journalism in Education. This field is closely focused on the study of strategies of schools and libraries in this field. In addition to that, ethnographic studies of different practices of health and performing arts mediatization are being conducted. HSE University promotes partner relations with the University of Bremen (ZeMKI Centre), Wroclaw University (Poland), and the Unisinos University (Brazil).
Studies of Creative and Cultural Industries
Today, the issue of creative and culture industries (the latter of which, according to some classifications, represents the core of creative industries) is one of the important topics in the context of cultural capital and territorial development. The following components of this area are represented at HSE University:
- exploring strategies of media companies and individual media projects after the advent of digital platforms and the development of participatory culture. This area of research has been launched and continues to develop in partnership with the University of Grenoble (France). As part of this collaboration, HSE University has published several monographs through leading publishers (i.e., Springer series);
- creative industries and industrialization of creativity in a wide range of content production activities, including films, TV shows and other important segments of the respective creative industries. This area shall also be developed through applied R&D work, commissioned by regional authorities, urban creative clusters, etc. The University of Leeds (UK), University Paris Nord and Grenoble Alps University (France) are HSE University’s partners in this field.
The following areas the most promising in this field:
- studies of automated and robotic creativity, i.e., creating cultural contents through the use of robotic and AI tools. The social implications of this transformation, as well as a relevant analysis in terms of media studies, will be viewed as a challenge. These studies will be implemented jointly with mathematicians who are also specialists in artificial intelligence:
- transformations in cultural and creative industries in respective regions, whereby this field takes on other contours, the rising of influence strategies of regional and urban development, as well as the formation of local identities. With this in mind, HSE University plans to develop this field jointly with the University of Helsinki and several other research centres with a particular focus on analysis of Russia’s regional environment.
Study of Communication Effects in a Digital Environment
This field, which was established as a cross between social and political studies, has become popular abroad owing to social media development. HSE University promotes this field through a whole range of issues:
- exploring the media and communication effects of new digital platforms. This subject has been considered jointly with the Free University of Berlin (Germany);
- selective perception in communications. This subject has been explored with the University of Pennsylvania;
- exploring political deliberation. This topic has been explored jointly with the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication (Oklahoma, USA). Presentations at major communication conferences (National Communication Association) and roundtables have set up based on relevant research results.
The following areas are seen as the most promising for analysis up until 2030:
- communications in health care. This field has only started to be developed abroad owing to reforms prevalent in health care, as well as new digital tools in medicine and methods for interaction with patients. HSE University has certain insights into this field. In 2020, the monograph “The Handbook of Strategic Communication — Co-Creating in Wonderland: Communication and Patient-Oriented Health Care in Russia” will be published by the leading publisher Wiley;
- non-reactive methods in public opinion studies. HSE University’s subdivisions plan to work jointly with the Free University of Berlin (Germany) in this regard.
Contributions to the Development of Education
These areas are being developed primarily owing to the successful combination of research and project-based activities. Students of Communication, Media and Design programmes engage in applied projects in gamification and multimediatization in museum operations, as well as create interactive applications and promotion projects, including those commissioned by non-commercial, state-run and commercial organizations. HSE University’s students from other fields are also engaged in these activities.
The research outcomes are used for teaching purposes through the alignment of academic profiles with respect to a number of educational programmes. The first English-taught programme in Critical Media Studies has been launched. This programme has been designed to serve as a platform for developing academic knowledge and new research areas. Furthermore, the system for involving students in academic work shall be finalized through establishing the Dissertation Committee in Media and Communications.
In fact, some research results have already been used for teaching purposes well beyond the scope of media-focused fields: minors in Media and Communications, as well as, in interdisciplinary media research, have been successfully developed and cultivated. The total number of courses in media, advertising and integrated communications has significantly increased under other educational programmes (especially in international relations), thus boosting the interest of students and potential researchers, as well as doctoral students, in this interdisciplinary field.