Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Moving on

I started my Ph D project in September, 2007. During my undergrad studies I used to say that "Whatever I do, I'm NOT doing a Ph D" much in the same line that I spent my high school years saying "Wherever I'm going to university, it WON'T be Lund". I wanted to be in the "real" world, working in public administration or with communication or whatever. As a student union representative I had seen too much of the downsides of doctoral studies, and to be frank, I didn't know if I was good enough. As an undergrad you tend to see Ph D students as Übermenschen (they're not).

But as I was finishing my Master's Degree, a couple of my teachers at the department encouraged me to apply for the Ph D programme. I was immensely flattered. As a student, you're usually happy with the occasional "OK" from your teachers, scribbled in the margins of an essay. Being considered as someone worthy of taking up an academic career made me instantly rethink my plans.

As it happened, the Department of Political Science had been involved in a somewhat vague, but very generously funded project - the Wahlgren Foundation Doctoral Programme - in which five doctoral students from different academic disciplines (political science, media and communication, film studies, and press studies) would write theses under the common theme of media, democracy and globalization.

I had been interested in the prospects of social media in the political realm, been an avid blogger since 2005, and fiddled a little with student journalism, so I felt this was up my ally. I applied and got - thank God! - the position.

I suggested a supervisor I had never met - Jan Teorell - which turned out to be a stroke of luck. Together with my assistant supervisor, Magnus Jerneck, I got a team of Virgils that guided me through academic Inferno. My supervisors didn't have the faintest clue what a social network site was (Jan does now, I'm still not sure about Magnus), but they knew political science.

And I made it through. I wrote the book, I defended it, I got a laurel wreath and a golden ring.

After almost six years of research, teaching, admin and some parental leave, it is time for me to move on. I really love my home department, and it has been a fantastic journey, but I am also very happy to being able to continue my research in an exciting new place with new wonderful people.

From August 1, I will start at the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund university. Here, I will work in the NEMO project (New Media, Modern Democracy), headed by Philip Young. I will be doing all sorts of interesting things, but I will focus on a theme that I touched upon in my dissertation: how does the use of social media change the communication culture of political parties? The empirical focus will be on the Swedish parliamentary parties, and I am looking forward to interviewing parliamentarians and let them talk about how they use social media internally.

Hopefully, I will be able to do a few interviews at Almedalsveckan. If you happen to be there, and if you want to ask me about my research, get in touch! Send me an email or contact me on Twitter.

I am happy to go to the Dept of Strategic Communication, which is not a completely foreign place to me - I have been giving guest lectures and seminars here for the past four years - but I will keep in touch with the political scientists back home. And the journey continues.

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