The overarching theme of my research is Participating Audiences2.1, i.e., how (some) members of the active media audience have become ‘produsers’ of content. The ‘2.1’ is a kind of pun: the so-called Web2.0 is characterized by its platforms for participation (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, WordPress). My 2.1. takes this one step further by focusing on the people who are participating. Most of my research is a collaborative effort. With my PhD students Joyce Neys, Lela Mosemghvdlishvili, Johannes Von Engelhardt, Ruud Jacobs, Wendalin van der Giessen, Pieter van den Heede, Lei Yang, Roel Lutkenhaus and Anne van Eldik and with other colleagues inside and outside ERMeCC. The projects executed are subsumed under three headings:
1. UGC (user generated content)
The ubiquity of the Internet allows users to publish their self-created content. Often, (new) media are used as tools to express particular views (Mosemghvdlishvili & Jansz, 2013a) or for social change (Neys & Jansz, 2010; 2014), with the Kony2012 viral YouTube campaign as a recent example (Von Engelhardt & Jansz, 2014). We also study how users shape technology in creating UGC (Mosemghvdlishvili & Jansz, 2013b). In 2015 our PhD student Lei Yang received a 4 year grant from the China Scholarship Council to investigate how the Chinese Hui minority uses social media in health communication. Lei and I collaborate with Yuping Mao (Los Angeles). In 2018, Lei realized two international publications about her fieldwork among the Hui in Shenyang City (Yang et al, 2018a; 2018b).
To what extent young users assume a specific role as produsers is studied in our externally financed project about online creativity of Dutch teens (Jansz, et al., 2015). Teenagers as well as their parents are active users of social media, which enabled us to study the relation between Internet use and family cohesion. How parents and children deal with the opportunities and challenges of playing games and using the Internet was studied by Peter Nikken (Netherlands Youth Institute, NJi) and myself (Nikken & Jansz, 2006, 2007a,b, 2014).
In 2015 I started a new project focusing on the local norms developed by young ‘produsers’ of content on social media. My research assistant Annabel Draaijers and I have been investigating how teens develop rules regarding their WhatsApp activities, and what kind of online behavior they expect from their close friends. The papers are currently under review.
2015 was also the year when the collaboration with Martine Bouman of the Center for Media & Health was intensified. Thanks to a large grant from the Vriendenloterij we could start a PhD project about entertainment media and social change. Early 2016 Roel Lutkenhaus joined our team. In 2019, Roel published an international articale about his analysis of the Dutch vaccination debate on Twitter (Lutkenhaus, Jansz & Bouman, 2019).
In 2017 Julia Kneer, Liesbet van Zoonen and I received a major grant from the Erasmus Initiatives scheme. It enabled us to hire Anne van Eldik as a PhD researcher on the project Urban Media Engagement that investigates the role of media and media production in the development of identities and engagement of young, urban media (prod)users. We collaborate closely with the Rotterdam ‘makerspace’ Bouwkeet. 2. The first survey study among Rotterdam youth has been published in 2019 (Van Eldik, Kneer, & Jansz, 2019)
2. Persuasive gaming
In 2013 the Netherlands Society for Scientific Research NWO awarded our team a huge Topsector Creative Industries grant. Our project Persuasive Gaming in Context started as a collaboration between Joost Raessens (University Utrecht), Ben Schouten (Technical University Eindhoven) and myself. We have been able (and lucky!) to hire Teresa de la Hera as a post-doc (UU) and Martijn Kors (TU/e) and Ruud Jacobs (EUR) as PhD students. Our research is done in close collaboration with game companies IJsfontein and Submarine. At ERMeCC (EUR) the PGIC project continues research that was done previously by Joyce Neys, myself and others on using online games for civic participation (Neys & Jansz, 2010, 2014; De Grove, Van Looy, Neys & Jansz, 2012). By now, the project produced a number of important publications by the different team members. In 2020 we will publish our edited volume on Persusasive Gaming that will include our own research, but also the contributions from renown international game scholars.
In 2014 two smaller game-related projects received funding from competitive grants: the Fogland game was supported by a KIEM grant from NWO and CLICK.nl, the Dutch creative industries knowledge and innovation network. Julia Kneer (ERMeCC, project leader) and I are researching the possibilities of a rather unconventional anti-smoking game. We collaborate with the Rotterdam based serious gaming company Ranj. A 4 year PhD project on the representation of war in video games was supported by the EUR REI scheme (Research Excellence Initiative). Pieter van den Heede is the PhD researcher, supervised by Kees Ribbens (NIOD) and myself (Van den Heede, Ribbens & Jansz, 2017).
3. Media & Emotion
The participating audience is an involved audience. The emotions linked to involvement have been studied in relation to video games. I argue that playing games provides a safe laboratory for experimenting with identities and emotions, especially for adolescent men (Jansz, 2005; 2015). The emotion ‘interest’ has been on our research agenda as well (Tan & Jansz, 2008). Recently, we linked it to persistence and gamer identity in our effort to explain why gamers continue to play despite all in-game frustrations (Neys, Jansz & Tan, 2014).
With respect to the emotional impact of other media, Johannes Von Engelhardt and I completed a theoretical piece about how Western audiences respond to distant suffering as it is presented on TV as well as online (Von Engelhardt & Jansz, 2015).