Themes and Research Questions

In this project we aim at gaining insights into the relationship between media practices and socio-economic development in Africa. Research Questions (RQs) and themes are meant to identify and name central issues that the project. 

Main RQ: To what extent and in what ways are processes of social change in contemporary Africa affected by new media?


 On this page you will find this project’s research questions (RQs) and all updates
connected to each specific RQ. However, it is important to bear in mind that in reality the themes are closely intertwined, the distinctions made here are analytical only.  In project outlines and -plans, we have slightly different focuses depending on the framework they are related to.

RQ 1  has a methodological slant, the next six are thematically oriented and the last two are analytical. They are all relevant for the whole project but – with the exception of the Botswana case that will attend to all RQs – each case will give a particular focus to some more than others in order to take advantage of prior field work by the researchers involved



The project starts with producing a platform for sharing and defining common task and foci. In the middle part the partners diversify into different field sites, before all are brought together in common analytical work and dissemination. This should maximize the chance of finding a proper balance between diversity and variation, and generalisatiom and analytical synthesis.

Concerns (RQ 1): What concerns are media uses linked to?

Media are always used for specific purposes, which determine their social functions. Thus, a crucial precondition for understanding their effects are to reveal the various concerns media practices are linked to. 

Economy (RQ 2): - What effects do new media have on local economic life?

Media affect economies in various ways. This project approach to economy is by way of ordinary people’s practices that have economic significance.

Politics (RQ 3):   What new political divisions and alliances do media generate?

New media affect politics and political practices in new ways. The project shall study such effects from the perspectives of ordinary citizens and through cases.

 Sociality (RQ 4): How do media affect household, family and kinship relations?

Much media use is linked to concerns related to the household, to family and kin. The project will integrate this theme as a crucial part of the shaping of media practices.

Gender (RQ 5):  How do media affect gender relations and sexual practices?

As an aspect of all social practice gender clearly affects, and is affected, by new media technologies and practices. The project shall focus on to what extent and in what ways relationships (as practice) between sexes are affected, as well as how conceptions conceptions change.

Cultural concerns (RQ 6): What effects do new media have on health and religious practices?

New media spread new information in new ways. This means that ideas and perspectives linked to cultural concerns such as morality, religion, the person and body, and hence health are affected. How and what are of concern for the project.

Mobility (RQ 7): How do new media affect space/place and mobility?

Obviously new media affect to what extent, in what ways and where people move. They are both part of a socio-technological process of change and their relationships need to be explored.

Change and diversity (RQ 8): In what ways can social changes be linked to media practices, what social mechanisms are in operation? 

Although the project focuses on the concrete,   a central concern is to be able to generalize and provide a bigger picture of the media in an African context. 

Comparison (RQ 9): What patterns of differences and similarities do we find? 

We compare over time and between the researched sites.  This is an especially powerfull means for  generalisation and theorisation. 

Theory and Methodology (RQ 10): 

The project’s thematic novelty and exceptional design provide unique possibilities for both methodological and theoretical developments, which is an ambition for the project.