Media, Culture and Ethics: Research course

Research course with professor Charles Ess (IMK) and professor II Anne Jerslev (University of Copenhagen and IMK). Extended deadline: 15 April 2016

In 2001, American media Researcher Guy Hawkins claimed, ”There is no doubt that television has taken an ethical turn”. In addition, he spoke about ethical excess and suggested that, ”television is now deeply implicated in shaping our ethical sensibilities”. Hawkins was referring to the many new reality-entertainment formats but he also asked in more general terms, ”How do we encounter televisual ethics? How does television limit or extend our conceptions of ethics?”

Guidelines and challenges

Of course, this important question could be asked, should be asked and is asked to not only in relation to other media forms – such as Social Networking Sites (SNSs), games, and so on – but also by media researchers in terms of the ethical design and conduct of their projects. For example, the Association of Internet Researchers have developed and published two sets of ethical guidelines regarding Internet research (2002, 2012: see

Moreover, the 4-year EU SATORI project gathers researchers and other stakeholders to order to advance the discussion of ethical assessment of research, including the challenges evoked by different national / cultural traditions and practices in research ethics (see in particular

Multifaceted ethics

At the same time, different subfields within studies of media and ethics approaches questions of ethics in different ways, whether these be journalism studies, social network media studies, entertainment studies, production studies, audience or user studies, studies of film and television genres, and so on. Especially privacy issues are essential to media studies today. Related to privacy matters are issues concerning data, big data, and questions about value production and ethics, as well as ethical questions related to the construction of identity (as either more individual and/or more relational), subjectivity, gender, ethnicity in a range of different programs and films, in relation to different platforms, and sites.

For ethicists, every aspect of our lives implicate ethical norms, principles, values, judgments, and thus choices.  Within media and communication studies, ethical questions may be at the forefront of a research project and/or be included as an important but more peripheral topic. Wherever they most forcefully arise, ethical questions in media studies are of a diverse and multi-faceted nature and must, in a world of ubiquitous media, be taken up as carefully and creatively as possible in order to ensure good research practices and/or offer new findings and insight regarding specific topics and issues in media ethics more broadly.

About workshop

Our workshop is guided by professor II Anne Jerslev, University of Copenhagen, and professor Charles Ess, University of Oslo. Anne Jerslev has published on Reality TV and ethics; Charles Ess has explored research and media ethics since co-authoring the first AoIR ethics document in 2002.

We invite participation from PhD students who are working with projects involving media and ethics and/or are confronted with specific ethical challenges arising within their current research projects.

Our goals

The workshop goals are to:

  1. more fully articulate these challenges;
  2. explore them in light of extant guidelines, processes, and/or a casuistic approach that compares current problematic cases with earlier similar cases;
  3. discuss issues regarding specific ethical challenges in relation to the media (media professions, media corporations, media formats etc.); and
  4. connect these issues with more general ethical theory.

Other topics addressed in the workshop may include:

  1. Ethics on closeness (intimacy, mediated faces, mediated communication, social robotics)
  2. Questions of the private realm and privacy (in relation to for example social network sites, media policies or the working of media institutions)
  3. Discussions of media representation of the Other, such as refugees, victims of terror, etc. (in factual as well as fictional genres)
  4. Questions of research ethics: how to conduct good research not only methodologically and theoretically, but also by having an ethical dimension to it – what does that really mean?
  5. Virtue ethical/republican/public sphere theory on the ability of the media to enhance communality, social solidarity and functioning public spheres.
  6. Questions of ethical theory on technological development (among others questions initiated by corporations themselves - Google has an advisory board with professors of philosophy for example)
  7. Ethical dimensions of news media, journalistic codes and conduct, media use of citizen journalism, publicness, gossip etc.

Requirements and credits

Working language: English. A minor part of the submission materials and resources may be in the Scandinavian languages.

Participation in the workshop with overview with paper will earn 2 ECTs – with full paper 4 ECTS.

How to apply

PhD students interested in participating in the workshop are required to submit a 1-2 page overview of their project, including primary research aims and methodological approaches,  along with an account of the primary ethical challenges evoked in the project, along with whatever resources (if any) the student has pursued to resolve these.

Candidates registering with full paper (max 15 pages) should be prepared to give 10 min. presentation of the paper.

Registering for the course along with Overview can be submitted to Research Advisor Elisabeth Quarré Eggen ( at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo by April 15, 2016.

Please state your research affiliation and topic for your Ph.d project.

We will notify candidates of acceptance soon after the deadline.

Published Feb. 8, 2016 1:05 PM - Last modified Mar. 18, 2016 8:35 AM