Media, community and the creative citizen

Exploring the use of digital media by individuals and communities, and how these technologies are being utilised to engage with creativity, local journalism and community activism.

Using phones on a train


Research background 

Media, Community and the Creative Citizens explored the many different ways in which online communications have enabled individuals and small groups of individuals to engage more frequently, deftly and in greater depth with many types of organisation. We saw value in exploring this in relation to areas of community activism, creative industries and local news ecologies.

The project was developed from a research council sandbox event that brought together community, policy and academic partners. The project was led by Cardiff University. The academic partners were BCU, University of the West of England, Open University, The Helen Hamlyn Design Centre (at Royal College of Art) and Birmingham University. Key policy partners in the project were Nesta and Ofcom.

Research methods 

The research design involved case studies from three areas of creative citizenship –community-led planning and design, creative networks, and community journalism (which was led by BCU). Through these cases, we tested ways of deploying and adapting digital and other media for use within communities. Research into hyperlocal media drew on a range of methods including content analysis, interviews, surveys and co-creation.

Research outcomes 

We found that media plays a significant role in most of the situations we studied, but that media interventions are most effective when most carefully tailored to the specific circumstances of any given community. The most reliable way of achieving that customisation is to use ‘co-creative’ methods, which enable problems and solutions to be defined by those who know the situation best, supported by those with useful areas of expertise. Creative citizenship is a promising way of thinking about the countless ways in which individuals and groups contribute valuable ideas, services and goods to communities of place and communities of shared interest.

The projects outcomes range from books and research papers to co-created community media artefacts. The project also held a major conference in 2015 to support its aims of influencing policy debates about the value of creative citizenship. 

Find out more about the project.