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What is the ZeMKI doctoral program?

The ZeMKI doctoral program deals with media and communication change in the present and past. In profoundly mediatized societies, popular culture, politics, everyday life, education, religion and art are changing. Not only do changing digital infrastructures play a role here, but also innovative practices of media use and datafication. As phenomena in these subject areas are multi-layered, the doctoral program as a whole is based on a broad interdisciplinary approach in order to strengthen the respective disciplinary doctorates. The joint exchange from different perspectives promotes understanding and enables creative approaches to solutions and research, also in each individual discipline.

The aim of the ZeMKI doctoral program at the University of Bremen is to provide cooperative and collegial support for its doctoral candidates. Participants must be enrolled as doctoral candidates at the University of Bremen and be supervised by professors working at the ZeMKI. The doctoral program is based on a binding doctoral agreement, it separates supervision from assessment and gives doctoral candidates broad opportunities to develop and complete their dissertation projects in a constructive environment.

Which disciplines are involved in the doctoral program?

The disciplines involved in the doctoral program are broad. In addition to communication and media studies, they include historyfilm studiesreligious studiessociologypolitical scienceeducation and computer science.

1st Year | Focus: exposé
Participation in eventsCourse leaderFrequency/Duration & Semester
Block event: “Exposé and Project Development”2 professors at ZeMKI3x 1 day in Winter or Summer Semester
Block event for the presentation and discussion of the projects / project ideasSupervising professors at ZeMKI1x 1 day in the semester
Workshops on self-selected topicsPhD studentsat least 1x year x 1 day
Method exercises of the MA programs of the ZeMKIChanging professors at ZeMKI2 SWS in Summer Semester
Methods groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Topic groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Lab ColloquiaLab headsseveral times a semester
ZeMKI- ColloquiaChanging professors at ZeMKIseveral times a semester
Optional events (subject-related events, key qualifications, professional career)International Summer Schools, BYRD, Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institute, external lecturersdifferent
2nd Year | Focus: empiricism
Participation in eventsCourse leaderFrequency/Duration & Semester
Block event for the presentation and discussion of the projects / project ideasSupervising professors at ZeMKI1x 1 day in the semester
Workshops on self-selected topicsPhD studentsat least 1x year x 1 day
Methods groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Subject groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Lab ColloquiaLab headsseveral times a semester
ZeMKI- ColloquiaChanging professors at ZeMKIseveral times a semester
Optional events (subject-related events, key qualifications, professional career)International Summer Schools, BYRD, Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institute, external lecturersdifferent
3rd Year / if necessary 4th Year | Focus: writing
Participation in eventsCourse leaderFrequency/Duration & Semester
Block event for the presentation and discussion of the projects / project ideasSupervising professors at ZeMKI1x 1 day in the semester
Workshops on self-selected topicsPhD studentsat least 1x year x 1 day
Methods groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Subject groupsPhD studentsat least 1x semester x 1 day
Lab ColloquiaLab headsseveral times a semester
ZeMKI- ColloquiaChanging professors at ZeMKIseveral times a semester
Optional events (subject-related events, key qualifications, professional career)International Summer Schools, BYRD, Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut, external lecturersdifferent
Closing ColloquiaChanging professors at ZeMKI1x in final phase of the dissertation
Exchange and Networking
Lab ColloquiaEach ZeMKI-Lab organizes regular colloquium dates in the semester for a scientific exchange. The dates are organized internally by the Labs, but they are open to the other members by arrangement. Regular participation in the Labs’ appointments is explicitly desired.
ZeMKI ColloquiaThe research colloquium takes place regularly on Wednesdays between 12 and 14 o’clock and includes lectures by the ZeMKI Fellows on current research projects followed by a question and discussion session. It is open to all PhD students and regular attendance is encouraged.
Day of ResearchThe research day takes place once a semester. It gives an opportunity to present project work as well as individual work within ZeMKI in different formats (e.g. presentation, sketch, data session etc.). It is not necessary to present a finished project, workshop reports are also welcome. Doctoral students are also explicitly invited to provide insights into their dissertation projects.
BrestolonThe ZeMKI is part of the BREmen-STOckholm-LONdon network, which meets once a year at one of the locations. It offers PhD students the opportunity to present their dissertation projects and get feedback from the other participants. An application to participate is required.
Summer/Winter SchoolsThe ZeMKI supports the participation in Summer Schools (e.g.: ECREA Summer School) and Winter Schools (e.g.: Digital Methods Initiative Amsterdam) for further education. An application for participation is necessary.
ErasmusWithin the framework of the Erasmus program, doctoral students can take advantage of a stay at a partner university as doctoral students or lecturers (with a teaching assignment).
Thematic clusters

The study group is concerned with the exchange of content and methodology on digital communication in political contexts. Specifically, the group is interested in phenomena of political participation on the Internet, the transformation of the political public sphere through digital media, the transformative effect of digital media for political systems, the use of political media content, the representation of political actors on the Internet, the dissemination of political news and its credibility. The study group aims to follow current research in these areas and to exchange theoretical, content-related and methodological findings. Among other things, they meet for a reading circle.

Events of the doctoral program

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PhD Writing Week 2024

The “Bildungsstätte der Wirtschafts- und Sozialakademie der Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen” will host the Writing Retreat 2024, which will take place from October 7 to October 11. The Writing Week aims to support the academic progress of doctoral candidates and offers an environment ideally suited for focused writing and research. Located in the idyllic Bad Zwischenahn, this (…)

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Academic Project Management

We are pleased to invite you to our workshop “Academic Project Management.” Learn from Prof. Kerstin Radde-Antweiler and Prof. Christian Schwarzenegger how to effectively manage academic projects, both in-person and online. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain valuable insights and guidance for managing your academic projects. Please register.

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Successfully Connecting Theory and Methods in the Thesis

We are pleased to invite you to our workshop “Successfully Connecting Theory and Methods in the Thesis.” Learn from Prof. Andreas Hepp, Prof. Christian Schwarzenegger and Prof. Stephanie Geise how to effectively integrate theoretical and methodological approaches in your thesis. The workshop is about reflecting on how theoretical work and empirical research can be related (…)

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Qualitative Interviews und digitale Verhaltensdaten

We are excited to invite you to a method-focused seminar on the integration of qualitative interviews and digital behavioral data, hosted by Lisa Merten from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research. The seminar will consist of various sessions aimed at exploring the utilization of digital trace data in conjunction with qualitative interviews. We will delve (…)

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Selected doctoral projects

  • PhD project
Li, Yuru

The Visual Framing of Politicians' Self-Presentation on Instagram and its Influence on Online Political Participation

Political actors use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to influence potential voters and other key audiences such as journalists and civil society actors. This research will examine the self-promotion strategy of politicians from the perspective of visual framing and textual framing on Instagram. For data analysis, supervised deep learning will be used to (…)

  • PhD project
LichtbildSTELTER - Kopie

Value Formations in a Video-Game-Franchise. A Comparison of Value Formations in “The Last of Us” (2013) and “The Last of Us: Part II” (2020) (seit 2020)

The video games “Last of Us” (2013) and “Last of Us 2” (2020) caused heated discussions during their release periods. While the first game prompted players’ to reflect on their moral compass through depictions of difficult decisions in crisis situations, the second instalment, published in the middle of the corona-pandemic, caused a polarizing controversy about (…)

  • PhD project
Schmitz_0

Journalistic Tools as "Boundary Objects" - A Media-Ethnographic Study of their Specifics as well as Dynamics of Development and Appropriation in Journalism

The dissertation focuses on new journalistic tools under the conditions of digital media change. The tools are understood as „boundary objects“ (Star&Griesemer, 1989). Such a socio-technological perspective makes it possible to analyze their (technical) specifics as well as to grasp the negotiation processes in the context of concrete development and appropriation processes. Methodologically, the work (…)

  • PhD project
Kuehn,Hendrik

Journalistic narratives after the audience turn: How new journalistic narratives address their audience

PhD project On the internet, the old business model of mass media is no longer viable and journalism must seek the attention of the audience in the area of conflict between quality reporting and personalized experience. An audience turn has taken place, which is also changing journalistic narrative styles.Hendrik Kühn’s dissertation project examines how this (…)

  • PhD project
Dietrich_450x600

The Aesthetic Dimension of Mental Illness

Films can impressively shape the everyday image of mental disorders (mental illness) and develop complex forms of expression for the representation of mental disorders that go beyond the scientific descriptions (such as the ICD-10 or DSM). In addition, they reflect scientific characterizations of mental disorders and open up new, everyday-based insights for the health sciences. (…)

  • PhD project
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Data Pratice in School Social Work

When looking at the interface between school social work and digitalization, it becomes clear that there is little knowledge and even less insight into the interactions between them. The literature states, among other things, that digitalization “just happens” (Ermel 2020: 42). Nevertheless, it is becoming apparent that digital media affect school social work at different (…)

  • PhD project
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Among Anti-Vaxxers, Esoterics and Right-Wing Radicals: Anti-Covid Communities’ Social Media Activism on Telegram

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, various groups in Germany and other global regions have protested against governmental measures implemented to combat the virus. The Covid-skeptic scene in Germany particularly utilizes the social media platform Telegram for information exchange and the coordination of protest activities. In my PhD project, distinct anti-Covid communities on Telegram (…)

  • PhD project
Vanessa Richter

AI Imaginaries - The Role of (Social Media) Platforms in Shaping (Public) Future Perspectives of Technical Development

Artificial intelligence is considered a key technology today, even if it is interpreted in different and ambiguous ways. As AI products become part of everyday life, new fears of job losses and promises to lighten the workload are emerging, impacting major public investment in research and industry and being reflected in political discourse and legislation. (…)

  • PhD project
Profilfoto_Laura_Liebig

Agenda Setting and Discursive Power in the German AI Discourse

Due to promises of groundbreaking technologies and a considerable hype, the issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is receiving increasing attention. Besides the focus on innovation driven by actors in business and research, it is primarily political and media actors who take on ethical and legal considerations, such as human-centredness or discrimination, and thus shape the (…)

  • PhD project
Ghozzi

The Construction of Mental Health among Muslim Influencers on Instagram. A comparative Study between German and Tunisian Actors.

“Can only a Muslim therapist really treat me well? How important is it that the therapist has the same faith?” These questions come from a post on the Instagram page of a German influencer of Muslim faith. Like many other influencers on Instagram, the influencer “psych.beck” deals with questions about mental health, self-care, nutrition, fitness (…)

  • PhD project
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Discourse Power in the (Digital) Public Sphere

The internet is permanently changing the structure and logic of the political public sphere: the former gatekeeping position of traditional media is disappearing and new actors are entering the arena. Jan Rau’s dissertation project investigates how and to what extent German far-right and right-wing populist actors can exploit this transformation of discursive power relations. Specifically, (…)

  • PhD project
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Gender-specific Subjectivation Processes of Young People in the Informal Digital Learning and Educational Space YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular Internet offerings for young people in Germany and serves many of them as an informal learning and educational space for researching information for leisure interests, school and training (Feierabend et al., 2021; Wolf, 2015). YouTube is a space that is structured along stereotypical notions of gender (Döring, 2019; (…)

  • PhD project
fritzsche

1968 and 1969 as Epochal Years. On the History and Aesthetics of Argentinean and Mexican Documentary Films and Social Movements

“The camera is the inexhaustible expropriator of image-weapons; the projector, a gun that can shoot 24 frames per second.“ The 1960s have gone down in history not only in Latin America as the years of the so-called social movements and the political struggle of left-wing groups. It was about political participation and civil rights, but (…)