Miss Ellen Watts

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Personal profile


I joined PIR as a PhD student in 2014, having completed an MSc in New Political Communication here at Royal Holloway, and a BA in Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Salford. My thesis is titled 'Celebrities as Political Representatives: Explaining the Exchangability of Celebrity Capital in the Political Field'. I was supervised by Professor Andrew Chadwick and Professor Ben O'Loughlin, and funded by the ESRC. I passed my viva in December 2018, and was examined by Professor John Street (UEA) and Professor Nick Couldry (LSE). 

I am primarily interested in the relationship between politics and popular culture, with my research interests spanning the fields of political communication, sociology, and cultural studies. My thesis presents an original theoretical model for explaining how (and when) celebrities are able to work across the fields of entertainment and politics, arguing that their ability to obtain political capital is contingent on making successful claims to represent citizens. I take a case study approach, exploring the role of celebrities in grassroots campaigns, election campaigns, and online feminist activism, and consider the consequences for citizens when celebrities claim to speak in their interests. 

During my time at Royal Holloway I also worked as a research assistant and project manager on externally funded research projects. Myself and a team of researchers worked with the British Council to conduct social media research, exploring online engagement with their international cultural program Shakespeare Lives. 


In 2018-19 I was a Teaching Fellow in Quantiative Methods here at Royal Holloway. I co-convened PR1000, which gives students a practical introduction to commonly used research methods in PIR (interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis and content analysis). During my time at Royal Holloway I have also taught experimental and quantitative methods, and research design. My colleagues and I were awarded a Team Teaching Prize in 2016, for our innovative approach to assessments which supported students to conduct and write up their own experimental research.



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