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Faculty of Communication SciencesUniversity of Tampere The School of Communication, Media and Theatre


Kaarina Nikunen             

Professor of Media and Communication Research 


Email: kaarina.nikunen [at]

Tel: +358 401904094

Office: Main Building E307 (Kalevantie 4)

Office Hours: By appointment


New book coming out in February 2019:

Media Solidarities: Emotions, Power and Justice in the Digital Age (SAGE 2019)

Research intrests

My research explores the ways in which media constructs understanding of the world: social justice and solidarity are important concepts in my work. I study the relations between media structures, popular engagements and affective dimensions of media. The vital question for me is how conditions of media shape the ways we engage with social and political issues, and how this guides our understanding of our role and responsibility as political subjects.

Media Solidarities

My current research focuses broadly on questions of media and social justice. This work draws on theorizations of solidarity, hospitality, cosmopolitanism and transnationalism. My research here investigates how media imageries and contexts of production shape the ways in which we understand our roles as political subjects and response to marginalization and suffering. Thus I am looking at media as technology that crafts engagements: how to react; how to feel; how to participate. My work includes investigation of humanitarian reality shows and ‘doing good’ reality, social media engagements and journalism of hospitality. This research area also includes an ethnographic research on European refugee politics, geographic imagination and politics of place in the Mediterranean coast, in Southern Italy.

Media engagements, technology and the everyday life

This area of research brings together work on digital technology, political movements and sensibilities of engagement. The emergence of populist and white power movements on digital media form an important area of study as well as research on constructions of ethnicity, race and gender on social networking sites of the young. I am particularly interested in the emerging forms of politics (both politics proper and identity politics) where ironic engagements, technological design and commercial context define and shape understanding of how to engage in public discussions. My work on ethnicity and race in media is available in publication Media in Motion: Cultural Complexity and Migration in the Nordic Region (Ashgate, 2011), edited together with Elisabeth Eide as well as in several journal article published in 2008-2014.

My interest in social media and participatory cultures dates back to my PhD (Faniuden aika, TUP, 2005) that explored television fan cultures, and is presented also in my research on performances of sexuality and porn cultures. These issues are discussed more detail in our edited book Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture (Oxford: Berg 2007) as well as in Finnish anthology Jokapäiväinen pornomme (Tampere: Vastapaino 2005).

Ongoing projects:

Datafication, Data Inequalities and Data Justice 2018-2019 exploratory workshops lead together with Anne Kaun Södertörn University  and Rikke Andreassen Roskilde University (NOS-HS)

HYBRA: Racisms and Public Communications in the Hybrid Media Environment 2016-2019(Academy of Finland)

Information and Emotions in the Refugee Debate, 2016-2017 (Helsingin Sanomat Foundation)

BIBU: Tackling biases and bubbles in participation 2017-2021 lead by Anu Kantola (Helsinki) STN funded project: Kansalaisuuden kuplat ja kuilut


Completed research projects funded by the Academy of Finland:

Structures of Compassion 2010-2013 (directed by prof. Ullamaija Kivikuru)

Immigrant Youth and Popular Media 2007-2009


Research networks:

Datafication, Data inequalities, Data Justice


EUKids Online

COST Action IS0906: Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies



London School of Economics 1.4.-30.6. 2017

Tulane University 1.1-30.4. 2016

Stanford University 1.1.-31.12. 2012

SOAS, University of London 1.1.-30.6. 2009


Selected publications:


New book on refugees, emotions and media: Pakolaisuus, tunteet ja media

More information:

pieni Pakolaisuus_tunteet_ja_media (1).jpg


Eide, E. & Nikunen, K. (eds.) (2011) Media in Motion: Cultural Complexity and Migration in the Nordic Region. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Paasonen, S., Nikunen, K. & Saarenmaa, L. (2007) (eds.) Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture. Oxford: Berg.

Nikunen, K. (2005) Faniuden aika. Tampere: TUP.

Kupiainen R., Kotilainen S., Nikunen K., Suoninen A. (2013) Lapset netissä - puheenvuoroja lasten ja nuorten netin käytöstä ja riskeistä. Mediakasvatusseuran julkaisuja 1/2013.

Nikunen, K. (2011) Enemmän vähemmällä: laman ja teknologisen murroksen vaikutukset suomalaisissa toimituksissa 2009-2010. [More with Less: Recession and Technological Change in the Finnish Newsrooms] Tampere: Tampereen yliopisto, Median, viestinnän ja teatterin yksikkö.

Nikunen, K. (2008) (ed) Fanikirja. Näkökulmia nykyajan fani-ilmiöön. Jyväskylä. Nykykulttuurin tutkimuskeskus.

Luostarinen, Eskonen, Horsti, Nikunen, Pöyhtäri (2007) Maahanmuutto ja media. Eurooppalaisia tutkimuksia ja kotimaisia ennusteita. Tiedotusopin laitos. Tampereen yliopisto.

Nikunen, K., Paasonen, S., Saarenmaa, L. (2005) (toim.) Jokapäiväinen pornomme. Media,seksuaalisuus ja populaarikulttuuri. Tampere: Vastapaino.


Nikunen (2016) Doing Good Reality, Masculine Care and Affective Capitalism. ephemera: theory & politics in organization 16(4): 163-184.

Nikunen (2015) Media, Passion and Humanitarian Reality Television. European Journal of Cultural Studies October 12, 2015.  DOI: 10.1177/1367549415609324 

Orgad, S. & Nikunen, K. (2015) The Humanitarian Makeover. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 13:2, 229-251. Link to the article:

Nikunen, K. (2015) Politics of Irony as Emerging Sensibility of Anti-Immigrant Debate. In Rikke Andreassen and Katherine Vitus (eds.) Affectivity and Race:  Studies from Nordic Contexts. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015.

Nikunen, K. (2015) Intimacy Re-Defined: Online Sexual Performance and the Urge of Posing. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 11(1). Special Issue on Digital Media, Sex and Performance.

Nikunen, K. (2014) Hopes of Hospitality: Media, refugee crisis and the politics of a place. International Journal of Cultural Studies, May 8 2014.

Nikunen, K. (2014) Placing Fandom: the persistence of national TV programming and the attraction of transnational spaces of fandom. In L. Duits, S. Reijnders, K. Zwaan: Research Companion On Fan Cultures. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 249-262.

Nikunen, K. (2013) Losing My Profession: Age, experience and expertise in the changing newsrooms. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Crticism  Vol. 15(7) 868–888.

Nikunen, K. (2013) Difference in Reality: Ethnic minorities and the boundaries of the nation in reality TV in Finland. Popular Communication, 11(4):303-317 Available here

Horsti, K. & Nikunen, K. (2013) Ethics of Hospitality in Changing Journalism: The Response to the Rise of the Anti-Immigrant Movement in Finnish Media Publicity. European Journal of Cultural Studies, August 2013 16(4): 489-504.

Nikunen, K. (2013) Re-imaging the Past in Transnational Online Communities. Transit Vol. 8(2)2013.

Cola, M., Nikunen, K., Dhoest, A & Titley, G. (2013) Lost in Mainstream? Ethnic minority audiences for public and private television broadcasting. In N. Carpentier, K. Schroder, L. Hawlett (eds) Transformations: Shifting Audience Positions in Late Modernity. London & New York: Routledge, 82-100.

Dhoest, A., Nikunen, K. , Cola, M. (2013) Exploring media use among migrant families in Europe . Theoretical foundations and reflections. Special issue on Media, technology and the migrant family, edited by C. Ponte & M. Georgiou. OBS* 7(1): 13-31.

Nikunen, K. & Laiho, M. (2013) Uhreista Parhaat? Lapset Irakin sodan ja Gazan kriisin lehtikuvissa. Media & Viestintä 35(3-4): 98-117.

Nikunen Kaarina (2011) In Between the accented and the mainstream. Cutting across boundaries in Kniven i Hjärtat. Television and New Media (12)1:46-65.

Nikunen Kaarina (2011) Satellite Living: transnational Television and Immigrant youth in Finland. In Eide & Nikunen (eds) Media in Motion: Cultural Complexity and Migration in the Nordic Region, Aldershot: Ashgate, 219-236.

Nikunen Kaarina (2010) Online Among Us: Experiences of Virtuality in Everyday Life. Nordicom Review 32:2-3, 75-82.

Nikunen, K. (2010) Rakastamisen vaikeudesta: Internet, maahanmuutto-keskustelu ja tunteet. [On Difficulty of Loving: Internet, immigration debate and emotions] Media ja Viestintä 33(4):7–26.

Nikunen, K. (2009) Musliminuoret ja transnationaali media. [Muslim Youth and Transnational Media] Nuorisotutkimus 3/2009, 74-79.

Nikunen Kaarina (2008) Emerging Transnational Sensibility among Migrant Teenagers. Lessons Learned doing Media Research in Multiethnic Classrooms. Ingegerd Rydin & Ulrica Sjöberg (eds.) Mediated Crossroads: Identity, Youth Culture and Ethnicity. Nordicom. Göteborg, pp.153-173.

Nikunen, Kaarina and Paasonen, Susanna (2007) Porn Star as Brand: Pornification and the Intermedia Career of Rakel Liekki. Velvet Light Trap, 54(1).

Nikunen, Kaarina (2007) Intermedial Practises of Fandom. Nordicom Review 28(2)111-128. 


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