School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Professor Deborah Chambers

Professor of Media and Cultural Studies


I am Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University. I studied Sociology at Essex University (BA Hons Sociology) before completing a Masters followed by a PhD in Sociology of Communication and Culture at Kent University (Canterbury).  Intersecting Sociology and Media & Cultural Studies, my research expertise lies within two areas. The first encompasses media technologies and media cultures. I focus on contemporary social media and changing intimacies; histories of media technologies and culture; transforming family lives and households. The second area lies in Journalism Studies with a focus on women and journalism, and local media and journalism within a global context.

I have written eight books which include the following: Changing Media, Homes and Households: Cultures, Technologies and Meanings (Routledge 2016); Social Media and Personal Relationships: Online Intimacies and Networked Friendship (Palgrave 2013); A Sociology of Family Life: Change and Diversity in Intimate Relations (Polity 2012); New Social Ties: Contemporary Connections in a Fragmented Society (Palgrave 2006), Women and Journalism (Chambers, Steiner and Fleming, Routledge 2004); Representing the Family (Sage 2001).


Before arriving at Newcastle University, I held permanent lecturer/reader positions in Media, Communication and Culture in the UK at Nottingham Trent University, Staffordshire University, and University of Glamorgan. In between, I was also a senior lecturer in Australia at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean where I collaboratively established programmes in Media and Communication Studies and the Women’s Research Centre. Immediately after gaining a doctorate, I began my career as Research Assistant in Sociology at Liverpool University, researching the impact of work schedules - continental and other shiftwork patterns - on employees’ leisure experiences and activities, and then also Research Associate in Recreation Management at Loughborough University focusing on patterns and meanings of leisure in the home.  Both large-scale projects were funded by the joint ESRC/Sports Council Panel.

As well as founding Subject Leader of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Newcastle 2005-2007, I have headed the subject's research, and postgraduate research studies. This flourishing subject area is now combined with Museum and Heritage Studies to form the exciting and leading research and teaching team of Media, Culture and Heritage within Newcastle University’s School of Arts and Cultures.

I have extensive experience as an  external examiner of doctoral theses at universities in the UK, Ireland and Australia. I currently supervise a number of PhD students from all over the world, in the field of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies. I am interested in supervising students on topics including social media and personal relationships; media cultures and changing domestic and mobile media technologies; women and media; family, changing intimacies and social networks; media representations of family life and gender in the media; Sociology of Journalism.

Esteem Indicators

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Member of ESRC and AHRC Peer Review Colleges

I have been regularly invited as a speaker at international conferences and symposia in a number of countries including France, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, the Czech Republic, and Belgium. As well as a member of ESRC and AHRC Peer Review Colleges, I have reviewed for the Irish and Dutch research councils. I am a media commentator on topics relating to digital media and culture, social media and personal relationships, and changing family life including BBC Radio 4 and blogs such as the Conversation. I am a member of Newcastle’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences Ethics Committee.

Example of recent keynotes and plenary talks

Royal Academy of Arts, London: 'Domestic Desires: Home Sweet Home': The impact of mass media on domestic spaces, RA Talks, October 2017.

Sorbonne, Paris: Mediated and simulated intimacies: The entrance of algorithms and robotics into personal life’ at conference hosted by Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 -  European Network for Cinema and Media Studies conference on ‘Sensibility and the Senses: Media, Bodies, Practices’ (keynote held in Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne) (July 2017).

University of Minho, Braga, Portugal: ‘Complicating connectivity: Social media, networked friendship and online intimacies’, Symposium on Social Media, organised by European Journal of Communication (May 2016).

Loughborough University, UK: Changing Media Technologies and Shifts in Domestic Life’ at Centre for Research in Culture and Communication Symposium on ‘Questions of Media and Time’ (June 2017).

Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon, Guest speaker delivering a series of lectures at Spring School on Geographies of intimacy: media, private life and daily life, Research Centre for Communication and Culture (CECC), Spring School on The Intersection Of Media Studies And The Sociology Of Personal Life, (April 2016).

University of Bedfordshire, UK: ‘Women’s journalistic writing in the post-war period: 1945-1975’ staff seminar, Faculty of Creative Arts, Technologies and Sciences (March 2016).

University of Bradford ‘Multi-agency, multi-user, multi-local working:  Sharing information for and about families’, ESRC Seminar series on ‘Information Sharing in Policy and Practice: What needs to be shared (and not shared) when we share information?’ (March 2015).

Hull University, UK, Sociology and Social Sciences: ‘Online intimacies and networked friendship’ (February 2013).

University of Chester, UK: ‘Promoting ‘cool’ identities: Changing representations of youth, space and mobile media’, at conference on Cool Places; Youth and Popular Culture in Department of Social and Political Science (March 2016).

Essex University, UK, Department of Sociology Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship seminar: ‘An Exploration of Mediated Intimacies and Engagement with Mobile Screen-based Media in the Home’ (February 2015).

Liverpool University and Liverpool John Moores University joint event: ‘Pioneering Media Women: from the Women’s Page to Digital media Communities’, at Challenges and Changes: Women in Journalism and Media conference, MeCCSA event (March 2014).

 Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria: ‘Media representations of Ageing femininity in celebrity culture’, Centre for the Study of the Americas in Graz, Special Series on Ageing (May 2010).

 Maastricht University, Netherlands, International Conference: ‘Fertility and Fame: Media and Academic Discourses of Parenting’, at conference Points of Exit: (Un)conventional Representations of Age, Parenting, and Sexuality, Centre for Gender and Diversity, (March 2009).



Intersecting sociology and media & cultural studies, my research specialism lies within two areas. The first encompasses media technologies and cultures with a focus on contemporary social media, public and private intimacies; histories of media technologies and cultures; transforming family lives and intimacies. The second lies in journalism studies with a focus on women and journalism, and local media and journalism in a global context.

In addition to several refereed articles and book chapters, I have written eight books which include Changing Media, Homes and Households: Cultures, Technologies and Meanings (Routledge 2016); Social Media and Personal Relationships: Online Intimacies and Networked Friendship (2013); A Sociology of Family Life: Change and Diversity in Intimate Relations (Polity 2012); New Social Ties: Contemporary Connections in a Fragmented Society (Palgrave Macmillan 2006), Women and Journalism (Chambers, Steiner and Fleming Routledge 2004); Representing the Family (Sage 2001).

My most recent book on Changing Media, Homes and Households (Routledge 2016), was written during a period of far-reaching social and technological changes. It explores the complex relationship between home, families, households and media technologies by charting key developments in the creation of the media home, from the early twentieth century to the present. The book identifies media technologies’ role in altering relationships between home and the outside world; work and leisure and how domestic media transform or reinforce identities and relations of gender, generation, social class and migrancy. The chapters provide original in-depth case studies of the processes involved in media’s adoption into the home: early television design, family-centred video gaming, the domestication of tablet computers, and the evolution from “smart homes” to today’s “connected” homes.

The book, Social Media and Personal Relationships (Palgrave 2013) examines digital intimacies in the context of changing social networks online. New forms of self-representation and modes of interaction on social media are addressed. By critically engaging with social theories and debates about changing intimacies, I explore the concept and evolving nature of online ‘friendship’ and sociability to theorize the rise of social media friendships through digital media engagement within new, personalized networked cultures.  

A Sociology of Family Life: Change and Diversity in Intimate Relations (Polity Press 2012) is a book that assesses and engages critically with contemporary debates about the changing concept of 'the family' by focusing on transformations in family and personal lives and the increasing diversity of intimate relations. The chapters also engage with debates about the meaning and nature of ‘family’ beyond as well as within Western cultures through a series of transnational case studies. This monograph was selected by Choice as outstanding academic title of 2013.

PhD Supervision

I supervise PhD students in media, communication and cultural studies and welcomes enquiries from future PhD students, especially in the following broad areas:

- Histories of media technologies

- Homes, families and media technologies

- 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



PhD supervision

 I currently supervise seven PhD students from across the world in areas that include topics on digital media and culture; social media audiences and globalisation; young people’s uses of social media; feminism and popular culture; teenage girls and film; Muslim Arab women’s engagement with social media; the history of media technologies.

Postgraduate and Undergraduate Teaching

I teach the following Masters modules:

COM 8057 Media Analysis

COM 8163 News and Journalism: Critical Studies

I also teach on the following PhD Research Training module:

HSS8004 Qualitative Methods and Critical Analysis in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

I also provide supervision for several MA and BA (Hons) dissertation students.