Deborah Chambers is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University. She has lectured and researched in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies in Britain and Australia, with previous appointments at Nottingham Trent, Staffordshire, Western Sydney (Nepean), Glamorgan, Loughborough and Liverpool Universities. Deborah graduated from Essex University in BA (Hons) Sociology and received her Masters and PhD from Kent University, specialising in the Sociology of Culture. She joined Newcastle University in 2005 to establish collaboratively what is now a flourishing Media and Cultural Studies subject area.
Deborah has written books on various aspects of media, society and social relationships. Her most recent book, Changing Media, Homes and Households: Cultures,Technologies and Meanings examines the central role played by media technologies in shaping ideas about home life from the early twentieth century to the present. Her previous books include: Social Media and Personal Relationships: Online Intimacies and Networked Friendship (Palgrave Macmillan 2013); A Sociology of Family Life: Change and Diversity in Intimate Relations (Polity 2012), New Social Ties (Palgrave Macmillan 2006), Women and Journalism (Chambers, Steiner and Fleming, Routledge 2004), Representing the Family (Sage 2001).
Deborah referees for British and overseas research councils and academic journals. Deborah has acted as external examiner for doctoral theses at universities in the UK, Ireland and Australia and is an experienced external examiner at undergraduate and taught postgraduate levels. She has developed links with media and cultural organizations through research and teaching, for example with regard to the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority journalists in the news media industry and the development of the MA in International Multi -Media Journalism in collaboration with the Press Association.
Deborah is a member of the ESRC and AHRC Peer Review College. She is an invited speaker at international conferences and seminars in a number of countries including Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, the Cezch Republic, Belgium and the USA on changing intimacies and new media technologies, women and media, and representations of ‘family’.
Deborah has engaged with professionals within the media and culture sectors. For example, she has been a guest speaker on radio including BBC Radio 4's ‘Thinking Allowed’ and has provided academic advice for various media projects as well as an ESRC funded project on the representation of ethnic minority journalists in the newspaper industry.
Roles and responsibilities
Directed the Media and Cultural Studies dimension of the submission to Unit 36, Research Excellence Framework (2014)
Member of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Ethics Committee
Research Director for Media and Cultural Studies
Contributor to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences research training programme
Deborah's research intersects sociology and media & cultural studies with a focus on social media and personal relationships; domestic media technologies and changing cultures; family life and changing intimate relationships; gender and media; sociology of journalism.
Deborah's book, Changing Media, Homes and Households: Cultures, Technologies and Meanings (Routledge 2016) explores today's complex relationships between home, family and changing media technologies. Moving beyond a narrow focus on media texts, production and audiences, the book investigates the physical presence of media objects in the home and their symbolic importance for home life. Deborah identifies the role of home-based media in altering relationships between home, leisure, work and the outside world in the context of entertainment, communication and work. She assesses whether domestic media are transforming or reinforcing traditional identities and social relations. A series of in-depth studies of the processes involved in media's home adoption include early television design, the domestication of computer tablets and the shift from 'smart homes' to today's 'connected homes'.
Her book, Social Media and Personal Relationships (Palgrave 2013) examines new modes of self-representation and interaction, and changing social networks. By critically engaging with social theories and debates about changing intimacies, she examines the concept and evolving nature of ‘friendship’ and sociability in the context of social media to theorize the rise of online friendship through digital media engagement within new, personalized networked cultures. Deborah’s research also informs debates on changing family dynamics and domestic media technologies within research on the emergence of home-based, social video gaming and a historical study of the cultural formation of television technology. Her book, A Sociology of Family Life: Change and Diversity in Intimate Relations (Polity Press 2012) assesses and engages critically with contemporary debates about the concept of 'the family', focusing on transformations in family and personal lives and the increasing diversity of intimate relations. She also advances debates about the meaning and nature of ‘family’ beyond Western cultures through a series of transnational case studies. This monograph was selected by Choice as outstanding academic title of 2013.
Deborah has worked with colleagues, David Baines and Liviu Popoviciu (Newcastle University) as principal investigator on an ESRC Seminar Series on Widening Ethnic Diversity in Journalism: Towards Solutions. This led to a series of successful seminars across six universities and also the publication of Race Matters, a Special Double Edition of Ethical Space: the International Journal of Communication Ethics (Baines and Chambers 2012). The seminar series engaged academics and practitioners from across all spectrums of the British media as well as international academics. The ESRC series has generated a series of further initiatives including a mentoring scheme between BBC North East & Cumbria and journalism students from diverse ethnic backgrounds from five universities; research on hyper-local news and journalism (David Baines) to examine the roles of local news and journalism in enhancing community sustainability. Deborah is currently working with David Baines (Newcastle University) and Irene Hardill (Northumbria University) on a project on changing news media conceptualisations and representations of ‘the local’.
Deborah supervises PhD students in media, communication and cultural studies and welcomes enquiries from future PhD students, especially in the following broad areas:
- Homes, families and the media
- Social media and personal relations; media cultures and social networks
- Mobile and domestic media technologies
- Changing intimacies and personal relationships
- Gender and media
- Sociology of journalism
Deborah currently supervises a number of PhD students from all over the world in the field of media, communication and cultural studies. She is interested in supervising students on topics including social media and personal relationships; women and media; media cultures and changing mobile and domestic media technologies; the family, changing personal and social networks; media representations of family life and gender in the media; sociology of journalism.
Postgraduate and Undergraduate Teaching
Deborah currently teaches the following Masters modules:
COM 8057 Media Analysis
COM 8163 News and Journalism: Critical Studies
Deborah also teaches on the following PhD Research Training module:
HSS8004 Qualitative Methods and Critical Analysis in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Deborah also provides supervision for several MA and BA (Hons) dissertation students.