Published: 23 March 2023

New Leverhulme Trust project on news use at Surrey Sociology

Professor Ranjana Das, in partnership with Co-Investigators Dr Tom Roberts and Dr Emily Setty - has secured a research grant of £122,777 for a project titled ‘I’ve un-installed the news”.

The Leverhulme News Use project (project website here) looks at parents’ news use and their diverse practices of news consumption in datafied, digital societies, with a specific focus on parents’ perceptions of risks and crises.

Navigating parenthood has always involved encounters with risks, crises and uncertainties. These might relate to health, safety, global affairs, the environment, or more. Some crises and risks are perceived by parents as more personally significant – or ‘riskier’ to their child - than others, and some of these might even alter parenting choices and decisions. But, now, more than ever, news about crises and risks are mediated into parents’ palms and pockets - through always-on media and technology, as we live in high-choice and chaotic news environments, amidst overlapping global crises.

Professor Das said:

“In this project, we are asking - in what ways do parents – from a diversity of socio-demographic backgrounds - engage with the news? (How) does parental news engagement shape parenting decisions and choices? What kinds of role-modelling - of reacting to and engaging with news- is available to children? And ultimately, how do parents conceptualise truth, trust, risk and responsibility, as they engage with the news?

Dr Roberts said:

“Our case study around engagement with environmental news will shed light on parents’ eco-anxiety – or, indeed, indifference – to these issues and how it shapes their news behaviours and parenting choices and concerns.”

Dr Setty added:

“Our case study on parents’ engagement with news on young people, sex, relationships and harmful sexual behaviour will contribute novel evidence. Particularly, amidst a significantly negative coverage in RSE right now, I’m looking forward to exploring with parents how they are engaging with such coverage”.

This Leverhulme Trust news use project will run from October 2023 to October 2025, and Das, Roberts and Setty will be joined by a full-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media and Communications (the job advert is currently live here), starting in autumn 2023.

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