Bespoke London | Kent State University

Bespoke London

Media and Polarization

To understand the extent to which media choice, specifically news media coverage, might be linked to heightened polarization surrounding the referendum asking British citizens whether the nation should leave or remain in the European Union, CCI doctoral student Mark Turner employed a qualitative research approach. Turner conducted a series of interviews in London during spring break 2017 and found that consuming specific media with an overt ideological agenda from specific outlets was a symbol and symptom of existing polarization in the United Kingdom, but that the referendum did not start the fire.

Being in London less than a year after the vote was a stroke of lucky timing for Turner and the Bespoke London cohort, but Turner believes that the trip would have been fruitful for his research at any time.

"The United Kingdom has a different outlook from the United States on its expectation of media and the idea of objectivity. The differences showed through data and through anecdotal experiences I could have only captured on this trip abroad. Also, the collegial nature of Bespoke London can’t be understated. In a qualitative approach, the data analysis requires careful dissection and reflection. Being able to share the ongoing analysis with other students doing research as an outsider in another country was extremely valuable,” said Turner. “Traveling is ``the trip abroad will not only inform my academic career going forward, it will inform my life.”

Soccer Fandom

CCI doctoral student Zach Humphries also traveled to London with the Bespoke London cohort to conduct research on how soccer (football) fans in London perform their fandom in online and offline environments. He also studied how these performances impact societal structures within the communities and neighborhoods in Northern London.

“For me, researching abroad opened my mind to new ideas, opportunities, and research interests. It was such a luxury to be able to travel abroad and gain valuable experience while simultaneously expanding my research portfolio,” said Humphries.