CCT do Media, Power and Politics at The Railway

Next Club Critical Theory


On the day that the organisers of CCT (The Cultural Engine) bottled their first batch of Seacider, a timely reminder of our next event.

Media, Power and Politics

Friday, 04 December 8pm

Upstairs bar, Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea

Following the success of our election special, this CCT event explores how people make sense of the media they consume and how raising questions about the ownership and regulation of commercial and publicly-funded media can provide an insight into the agenda-setting processes they enact.

We ask whether the arrival of new forms of digital social media is a cause for optimism – because such forms appear to provide a genuine challenge to the vested interests of established media conglomerates – or merely provides an echo chamber for the already converted. Further, we consider these developments in relation to the history of alternative media forms and their deployment by marginalised social groups.

In summary, we address a fundamental question: do people believe everything they view and read?

Tracey Jensen (speaker)

A graduate of Cambridge University and the LSE, Tracey’s current teaching and research at the University of East London looks at how policy, media and cultural texts work together to produce and circulate stigmatising ideas of families ‘in crisis’, as ‘welfare dependent’ or ‘undisciplined’. She connects these ideas to a broader analysis of the ‘post-welfare’ shift, in which citizen entitlements are becoming contractual, precarious and sanctioned. At this CCT event Tracey will discuss the recent explosion of a new genre of reality television – known as ‘poverty porn’ – which forms part of a populist authoritarianism around welfare.

Michael Bailey (speaker)

Michael teaches at the University of Essex and is currently writing a book about public sociology. His interests in this field have led him to present lectures on ‘Globalisation, Anticapitalism and Associative Democracy’ at various international universities, particularly in China. Michael connects these interests to his broader commitment to critical theory; historical sociology; working-class heritage and sociology of the media and modern culture. AT CCT he will examine the history of alternative media forms and their legacies.

Andrew Calcutt (discussant)

‘Hackademic’ Andrew Calcutt was a journalist for 25 years before he became an academic at the University of East London. As a journalist, he worked in print (Arena, Esquire, Living Marxism/LM, the Modern Review), in broadcasting (Clarke TV for Channel4), and online (commissioning editor, Channel Cyberia for MSN). As a lecturer in journalism, his priorities are good copy and clear thinking. Andrew will draw on these experiences when identifying comparative and contrasting themes in both presentations in order to open the discussion.


About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: Full academic profile:
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