Sofie Van Bauwel

Spotlight_Sofie_Van BauwelGetting to know… Sofie Van Bauwel

Associate Professor
Ghent University
Personal website


What are you currently working on?

Currently I am involved in different projects but they all have one thing in common which is gender, as a central focal point or as being imbedded in the research.

Together with Dr. Sander De Ridder and researcher Burcu Korkmazer we are working on a four year project funded by FWO (Flemish Research Council) on Online Moralities and Sexual Reputation. This research project focuses on sexual morality and ethics in digital youth cultures. Within these youth cultures, we can note that online reputations are seen as one of the central dynamics of internet sociality. The aim of this project is to address (1) what it means when reputation is becoming more media-related than before in youth cultures, (2) how these media-related reputations introduce particular sexual politics in youth cultures and (3) how society responds to these changes.

Together with my colleague Prof. dr. Frederik Dhaenens and researcher Florian Vanlee I am involved in a four year funded research (FWO) on Sexual Diversity on the Small Screen. A qualitative research into the representation of and public debate about LGBTs in Flemish television fiction series.

Thirdly I am doing research on the representation of ageing femininities. In postfeminist television content the representation of femininity has been changed. For example we see more diversity in femininities and intersections with other identities. But what about the ageing women?

What has been your most memorable project so far, and why?
It is difficult to pick one but I think my answer would be a small project on media literacy called ‘road to school’ in which children documented the road to school which they took every day by visuals and audio-material. I did research on the manner this project produced knowledge for these children on audiovisual media and the way they became media literate. It was an ethnographic research which took a lot of work but it was really fun to do and we got an inside in how these projects work in relation to try to produce media literacy.

Which achievement are you most proud of, and why?
To establish a research track on gender and sexuality together with our researchers. Including gender in research but also in teaching as I lecture a course on media and gender.

What is an important question from parents and practitioners that we as academics cannot provide a good answer to yet?
The evident and unanswered question. Questioning the effect of media on an audience of young people in our contemporary complex media contexts.

What would be your work motto?
Keep your dreams alive, be passionate, creative, and critical. And don’t forget: have a laugh and do not take yourself too seriously all of the time.

Which of your publications is your favorite, and why?
I think I am most proud of the Routledge book on gender and media that I wrote together with my Dutch colleague Tonny Krijnen. It offers a critical perspective on the relationship between media and gender and not only looks at representations but also at production and reception.

If you had unlimited resources, what kind of project would you want to do and why?
This question makes me smile. But the first idea that comes to my mind is a long-term ethnographic research on evolutions in gender representations of youngsters and their ideas on gender and beauty across emerging adulthood.

If you had to give one piece of advice to young CAM scholars, what would it be?
Don’t let yourself become a rat in the academic rat-race. By for example only publishing to publish and using methods as re-using data over and over again, using methods of data gathering to get quick and easy data to publish. Don’t use your participants as only data. Give them a voice and agency and be respectful. Dig deep and try to really understand what you are researching and don’t be afraid of theory.

Who would you like to put in the spotlight next, and why?
I would like to nominate Charu Uppal because she has done a great job with her research on Disney princesses and audiences of young girls from an international perspective, giving these girls a real voice in the research and using a creative method.

To download a copy of this edition of CAMmer in the spotlight click here.