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[Commlist] Job Opening PhD Candidate KU Leuven - Conspiracy Theories on YouTube

Mon Oct 28 18:21:20 GMT 2019

4-year fully funded PhD position
Institute for Media Studies of KU Leuven, Belgium


    Imagining Opaque Power: The Production and Consumption of Conspiracy
    Theories on YouTube



Conspiracy theories about the ‘deep state’, medical industries, politicians, celebrities and mass media are highly popular in western societies - particularly amongst youngsters - and function as 'cognitive maps' or 'meta-narratives' to make sense of opaque power in globalized institutions. Critiquing the academic blind spot for the way people construct conspiracy theories in everyday life and, particularly, the role of social media therein, this research project studies how and why conspiracy theories are produced and consumed in audio-visual video’s on YouTube. To answer this question, different complementary methods are applied in three phases: 1) a multi-modal content analysis of conspirational video’s about the ‘power elite’ (i.e., politicians and popstars) to construct a typology of these oppositional readings, 2) 20 in-depth (Skype)interviews with the producers of such amateur video’s to asses their motives to critically ‘decode’ mainstream media content and their audio-visual construction of conspiracy theories 3) 20 in-depth interviews with strategically selected high school students in Flanders to empirically assess if, how and why they decode, modify, post and share these video’s on social media platforms.

          Institute for Media Studies - KU Leuven Belgium

The Institute for Media Studies is a diverse and dynamic research group studying the production, effects, uses and perceptions of media and the broader policy in which media are embedded. IMS conducts both fundamental and applied research. Moreover, the research group employs qualitative, quantitative, and multi-methodological approaches, as well as secondary data. IMS strives for excellence in both research and teaching and publishes widely in international, peer-reviewed, highly-rated journals. More particularly, the research topics of IMS are: strategic communication; journalism and news; human-computer interaction and (digital) media culture. The latter topic - focusing on the way media and culture influence each other and develop in tandem - aligns with this research project that will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Stef Aupers.
Website unit <>


The candidate:

Has a master degree in the social sciences (sociology and / or communication science / media studies)
Has a high grade point average for the bachelor and master programs
Has an affinity with / academic knowledge of digital / social media, internet culture (relevant courses, subject master thesis) Has ample experience with qualitative research (particularly content analysis, in-depth interviews) and (preferably also) digital methods Is both interested in empirical research and (the development of) theory in mediastudies / social sciences Has excellent skills in English (mastering the Dutch language is an extra asset)



A fulltime position, initially for 1 year, with an extension to 4 years after good evaluation A monthly stipend of about 1900,- euro net, depending on family situation and work experience Possibilities for further professional development (e.g. through additional courses, participation in workshops and seminars)
A stimulating and demanding research environment


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Stef Aupers, tel.: +32 16 37 23 07, mail: (stef.aupers /at/ <mailto:(stef.aupers /at/>. You can apply for this job no later than November 12, 2019 via the online application tool <> KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at (diversiteit.HR /at/ <mailto:(diversiteit.HR /at/>.

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