Humanitats i Comunicació

Culture and Society

Proposta de tesi Investigadors/es Grup de recerca

Contemporary configurations of body, gender, sexuality and affections

These days, relationships between body, gender, sexuality and affection have become a field characterized by a growing questioning of binarism and by the emergence of other potential forms of organization. Nevertheless, "traditional" relationships persist in our environment.

With this proposal, our aim is to carry out in-depth analysis of the contemporary configuration of these relationships and how they manifest in both online and offline interactions, and with the emphasis upon masculinities. We believe that feminist epistemologies, particularly Posthumanism and New Materialism, provide us with the perfect framework for analysing these configurations from a different, non-binary standpoint.                        

 Dr Begonya Enguix Grau MEDUSA

Relations between body, gender, affections and politics

The anthropology of the body and feminist epistemologies (Posthumanism and New Materialism) have made our body an active participant in social life and an element that is neither limited nor contained by our skin. Nowadays, the body has a gender and gender requires a body, and neither gender nor body are neuter or neutral. Body and gender are assembled, intersected, inserted and connected with affections and emotions, with political effects.

Within this line, two research sublines are proposed:

  1. Bodies, affections, politics and gender: body, gender and affections in national construction; gendered bodies and their possibilities, affections and political effects; the use of the body and gender discourse as a political tool; masculinity and politics.
  2. Gender activisms: LGTBI activisms; egalitarian masculinities, etc.
  Dr Begonya Enguix Grau MEDUSA

Scientific/technical controversies in Wikipedia

Wikipedia has become, amongst many other things, the main public communication channel for science. Given this, we seek to analyse the way scientific knowledge, in its different branches and disciplines, is presented, discussed or questioned via this collaborative encyclopaedia. Following the common strategy in science and technology studies (STS) we can analyse how controversial scientific matters –those around which there is still no clear consensus – are shown on Wikipedia, how the associated entries are constructed and what discussions and disputes take place there – analysing, for example, the discussion pages and the editing and revision history. The goal is to ascertain the extent to which the open nature of the encyclopaedia and the non-expert nature of its editors affect how the discrepancy or non-stabilized scientific knowledge is presented.

Dr Eduard Aibar  

The neoliberal transformation of academe in the case of humanities and the social sciences: effects and resistance

The impact of neoliberal politics and practices has been causing the most significant transformation of contemporary science and academe since the mid-twentieth century. Neoliberal academic policies have been putting more emphasis on the creation of commercial value than in achieving social wellbeing or knowledge; the use of patents has been encouraged more than the open dissemination of knowledge and private investment has been promoted in universities and research projects, to foster those lines of research with greater commercial application and, therefore, prospects of a financial return. Existing literature on these matters focuses on natural or "hard" sciences, such as the biomedical field, whilst areas such as the humanities and the social sciences have been studied far less. In this line of research, we seek to analyse, firstly, this almost unexplored terrain, based on specific cases such as those of the "digital humanities" and, additionally, identify and study initiatives or experiences of resistance – in terms of both content and organization – in and outside of the academic sphere.

Dr Eduard Aibar  

Neoliberalism in 'gendered academia': subjectivization processes and resistance

This line provides two sublines of research:

  1. Obedience and disobedience within a neoliberal academic and scientific context from a gender perspective.What do 'obey' and 'disobey' mean and what do we understand by them in this context? How do academics and researchers discuss obedience? Where are the boundaries between obedience and protection? What disobedience practices can be identified, in what circumstances and with what consequences? Can we appreciate any differences from a gender and/or generational standpoint in the behaviours, discourses and consequences associated with such practices?
  2. Neoliberalism in 'gendered academia': the impact of assessment technologies on the construction of subjectivities. This line seeks to study the processes by which an ethos of management has begun to govern in academic and scientific institutions which in turn has led to the influx of competencies and skills foreign to this field. What impacts this 'intrusion' has on academics' and researchers' subjectivization and control processes, and on the design of their academic careers, and what consequences it has from a gender perspective.
Dr Agnès Vayreda i Duran MEDUSA

Critical event studies. Events as drivers of social change (or transformers) in the context of socially uncertain times

Events such as festivals, carnivals, congresses, sporting events, demonstrations or contemporary rituals are analysed in a field of research called 'Event Studies'. Nowadays this area of study expands and moves from business and policy to socially, culturally and contextually driven approaches (Getz; Richards; Quinn; Smith). This situation offers academics the possibility of addressing events as contemporary social activities, with effects and actions, but also as drivers which shape and transform societies. We have been working on different aspects related to traditions, gender, sustainability, inclusion, social relations and networks as well as liminality. 

Therefore, we offer guidance for research from a critical perspective, relating to events and their consequences or potential for our society. We expect research projects to be based on social science methodology. Proposals should employ a qualitative methodology, but we also offer the possibility of working with quantitative measures. We encourage, therefore, those candidates who want to examine the role of contemporary events in our society.

The candidate will be able to join the discussion generated in the framework of the recent EU-financed research project HERA, entitled “Festivals, events and inclusive urban public spaces in Europe” (2019/2022)

Dr Alba Colombo IdentiCat

Constructing clandestine and anonymous spaces of resistance

We propose to conduct an ethnography of the new modes and tactics of political and social resistance emerging in present-day Catalonia through the lens of event studies (Getz; Richards; Quinn). The Catalan pro-independence movement can be characterized as innovative in terms of its rhetoric and collective mobilization. It produces a plethora of creations with collective representations and displays based on the synchronization of crowds for specific visual, emotional and symbolic effects. These include demonstrations featuring coloured shapes; the occupation of large strategic infrastructures; human chains hundreds of kilometres long; small localized and networked displays of specific slogans and messages; massive festivals, and the saturation of landscapes with symbolic colouring. Since the Spanish authorities opted to prosecute political and social leaders, the requirement of anonymity has led this social movement to organize and plan events in new ways through new dramaturgies of collective celebration and resistance. The movement also draws upon technology to design and direct protests.

We will welcome research projects that engage in what these new forms of resistance and disobedience, their rhetoric, narratives, design, actions and reactions, and technological appropriations tell us about the use and appropriation of the political, symbolic and public space more specifically.

Dr Alba Colombo

Dr Joan Pujolar


Bodies, affections and technology

Life is made up of encounters – encounters that may determine the course of one's life. This knowledge forms part of the most basic wisdom of any human being and, in fact, of any living being. From the standpoint of posthumanist thought, bodies are conceptualized as an assembly of different elements that give rise to organisms that go beyond the skin covering them. 

From this standpoint, we propose researching human encounters with digital technologies (and also with robots and artificial intelligence) to understand some of the effects of these encounters/assemblies on the ways we relate to others (humans and non-humans), on constructing ourselves as subjects and on thinking of ourselves as humans/posthumans.

Dr Francesc Núñez Mosteo MEDUSA

Emotional practices

This line of research aims to encourage theses seeking to approach the study of emotions as a kind of practice (following Monique Scheer). The notion of emotions as a practice highlights the importance of habitus and the contexts within which emotions arise (embodied and situated). We approach emotions as a practical engagement with the world. Emotions emerge from bodily dispositions determined by a social context. Emphasis is placed on the dimension of emotions as something we do (emotional performativity) rather than something we have. We would also like to highlight the importance of the body in these practices and the oft-forgotten fact that the world is socially ordered and structured (into classes and genders, for example). 

This emotional perspective shares the posthumanist view of the body as something that is not static, a body with a universal foundation that produces ahistorical emotional arousal but is characterized by its capacities for action and interaction.

Dr Francesc Núñez Mosteo MEDUSA

Cultural studies: emerging forms of popular culture viewed through the lens of inequality 

Research on the link between emerging forms of popular culture (defined as culture mediated by the media and consumption) and the dynamics of reproduction, legitimation and dissolution of social hierarchies on the basis of the three classic lines of work on cultural studies: a) analysis of the culture industry; b) analysis of cultural practices; c) critical analysis of the discourses of/in/about popular culture. 

The methodological approaches can vary from ethnographic and qualitative studies, through cultural practices and tastes to semiotic analyses of cultural products; from quantitative studies of cultural consumption or networks of relationships in specific areas to analysis of cultural policies or public discourses. The areas of research are preferably – although not exclusively – youth cultures, popular music, audiovisual productions, celebrities and contemporary myths, both in the specification of particular groups, styles and communities and in the broader sense, of process associated with the global circulation of culture products.

Dr Roger Martínez Sanmartí

Dr Isaac González Balletbó

Dr Natàlia Cantó-Milà


Contemporary social theory and intellectual history

This line of research is aimed, firstly, at theses looking at the emergence of an idea in social thought that ends up as the driving force and articulation of a social theorization, be this in the work of a particular author (such as the concept of relativism in the work of Georg Simmel or the theory of social fields in that of Bourdieu); in a school or tradition of thought that shapes a specific view of the objects of study or the very objects of study themselves (such as the relational approach to sociology); in a theoretical standpoint or a concept that has changed over the course of time (such as that of globalization or, broadening the historical perspective, that of social class). 

It is also open to theses seeking to trace intellectual relationships or those between ideas, by means of translations, dialogues or exchanges of all kinds that help a particular concept or paradigm spread beyond the boundaries of time, place, language or discipline. So, this line of research is home to theses that analyse the dissemination of a concept or theory, and the reception of an author's work within a context different to that of its creation.

Thus, the main lines of research are:

  • Sociological theory in the 19th-21st centuries.
  • Contemporary social theory.
  • The intellectual history of the ideas of the 19th-21st centuries.
  • Sociology and fiction: The uses of fiction in enriching, informing and provoking theorization.

Dr Olivia Gassol Bellet

Dr Natàlia Cantó-Milà


Culture and social change in the contemporary world

Every form of cultural expression (art, literature, film, series, music, etc) is involved – one way or another – in the construction of the narrative tapestry with which individuals and societies ascribe and recognize meanings and create cosmovisions. This tapestry arises from social positions, particular moments in history, circumstances, structures and contexts (which it both represents and configures) whilst weaving more or less shared imaginaries. 

This research proposal focuses on the study of culture, defined as a universe of meanings that is incorporated into our lives and that transforms them, with regard to the dynamics of social change that are arising in the contemporary world. The main lines of research are:

  • Analysis of cultural models and discourses within the context of social change. 
  • Institutionalization and cultural policies.
  • The study of cultural phenomena and products as the driving force, scenario or platform of or for social changes.
  • Mass culture and the culture industry.
  • Historical and generational changes in youth cultures.
  • The role of culture in processes of political change and in the construction of ideological horizons.
  • The role of culture at times of crisis and/or revolution: the workers' movement, neighbourhood movements, trade unionism, the different waves of feminism, new masculinities, anti-capitalism, anti-globalization, degrowth, ecologism, etc.
  • Imaginaries of the future and social transformation.
  • Myths, images, iconography and linguistic construction in ideological and/or political discourses: fascism, the far right, social democracy, communism, Marxism, nationalism, etc.

Dr Roger Martínez Sanmartí

Dr Olivia Gassol Bellet

Dr Natàlia Cantó-Milà


Visual culture and society

The present proposal invites PhD candidates interested in exploring the role of visual culture in contemporary society. This includes an examination of photography, the visual and performing arts, film and video, and electronic media, focusing on the historical foundations of visuality as well as theories of visual culture and aesthetics. Candidates are invited to explore the role of visual culture in society in connection with: 

  • The symbolic construction of race, class, and gender
  • Visual dimensions of social life
  • Visual history of social practices and social artefacts
  • Art-based research and visual research methodologies
Dr Amalia Creus KIMO

Social segregation imaginaries, discourses and practices

The proposal is open to research projects focusing on the analysis of social and political imaginaries, discourses and practices related, explicitly or implicitly, to social segregation (understood as relational closure and the production of social and symbolic borders) and social desegregation (understood as relational openness and dissolution of social and symbolic borders). The aim is to analyse social closure and openness processes as key aspects of understanding contemporary society.

The proposal welcomes a diversity of methodological approaches, ranging from ethnographic research about specific social groups to critical analysis of political or artistic discourses, including the statistical study of the intensities, causes and consequences of segregation. The preferred, but in no way exclusive, areas of research are school and geographic segregation and the making and dissolution of symbolic borders in their different dimensions (class inequality, gender, ethnic identifications, cultural disposition and tastes in general, moral horizons, etc.).

Dr Isaac González Balletbó

Dr Roger Martínez Sanmartí

Dr Natàlia Cantó-Milà