It is the time of the year when almost all Swedish academics within the humanities and social sciences submit new research applications. I am one of them, and today myself, and my colleagues Anne Bachmann (from Stockholm University) and Per Vesterlund (at Gävle University) finished an application which we sent to RJ with the title, The rise and formation of media studies in Sweden. We are pleased with it, but the competition will naturally be fierce. The abstract runs as follows:
From where does knowledge about media originate? Given that media studies has emerged as an academic meta discipline, remarkably little is known about its origins. The purpose of our project, however, is not to write the history of a discipline. Rather, the objective is to contribute to a scholarly understanding of complex knowledge formation processes, by treating the emergence of media studies as part of media history itself. Our pivotal idea is that media studies in Sweden emerged at the intersection between the media industry, the university and educational systems, and media politics. Increased knowledge about media during the postwar period was an effect of industry and politicians seeking to be better informed on issues as media influence, media ownership, and the habits and composition of media audiences. One hypothesis is that knowledge production around media developed circularly, often in symbiosis with changes in the media landscape, another is that institutional attitudes towards (mass)media were articulated in terms of threat and protection. Press subsidies and film censorship were, in short, opposite sides of the same discourse. The project has relevance since it situates the rise and formation of Swedish media studies as a significant case study of societal knowledge formation. With mass media as an example, the project will hence make a central contribution towards understanding the mediated complexity and dynamics of knowledge creation over time.