MS 113: Media and Democracy Final Research Paper (35%)

Deadline: 8th May (11:59 pm)

The final research paper originates in the course material and requires individual research. You have to write a 7-8 pages (minimum of 1800 words) paper that offers a clear, strong, well-organized, and well-supported argument. The research paper should draw from course material and from independent research.

You can focus on one of the course themes and or create a topic out of your own interest.

I will be adding a grading rubric to this guide.

Course Topic List: What is the relationship between democracy, public culture and media

  1. The crisis of democracy thesis: Cambridge Analytica case study – Is American and UK Democracy under threat , the 2016 US Election and 2015 Brexit referendum? Look for articles on surveillance, misinformation studies and Post-truth society
  2. Social media, Public Sphere and SurveillanceThe impact of new information technologies on democracy. Social Media platforms and Surveillance Capitalism. Do Social media platforms threaten democracy nationally and transnationally?Do the new media –Internet news, blogs, and social media– perform valuable democratic press functions? How can citizens use the media to best advantage? How do political elites use social media platforms to gain power over people?
  1. History of Democracy: characteristics, origin and development. Functioning democracy/representative democracy: Liberalism and Civic Republicanism
  2. History of Political Ideologies (Liberalism, Conservatism, Fascism and Socialism) and focus on the contemporary rise of the right-wing populism in many countries.Populism and Authoritarianism. Scholars and analysts argue that there has been re- emergence of ‘populism’ in the last decade. Does the rise of right-wing populism across the globe pose a threat to the institutions of democracy? Has globalisation (and economic collapse of the financial crisis of 2008) resulted in neo-liberal austerity, which has brought about a resurgence of right-wing? Or is the resurgence of right-wing populism due to cultural backlash  due technological changes in the media landscape?
  3. The Political economy of media in shaping democracy: Explore Media ownership, concentration and conglomeration. Who owns the media? To examine the paradox of democracy and media capitalism. Robert McChesney “Does capitalism equal democracy?”  What does concentration of media power mean? State propaganda and social control. Government regulation and deregulation. What about state  propaganda especially war propaganda? See Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda thesis – 30 years on.
  4. The politics of Journalism – Is journalism is in decline? Democracy cannot be successful without free press. Free press is very essential, as it is the voice of the people. The media is considered as fourth pillar of democracy, as it plays a crucial role in shaping the public minds.  See Robert McChesney’s interview on , ‘The Death and Life of American Journalism,’ Democracy Now! 2010. Are  Journalist public watchdog or lapdog for media corporations? Media bias in representation, fairness, objectivity, truth. What does objectivity and fairness mean in the News media?
  5. The Politics of Popular and Celebrity Culture and Democracy: Media Representation and ideology, Politics and Entertainment/ Advertising and  Consumer culture: ideology, hegemony, consumerism, neoliberal capitalism. What is the relationship of celebrity culture, public sphere and citizen identity formation?
  6. Plural Citizenship and Public Sphere: Race, Gender, Sexuality -Pluralism and Multiculture: New forms of citizenship – intimate citizenship identity and New theories of citizenship. Feminist citizenship: Is Citizenship gendered? Inclusion and Exclusion, a feminist perspective.
  7. Global Public Sphere: Examine the role of Globalization in changing national citizenship. Are there boundaries between National and Global Public Sphere? Do we need to understand democracy as a global institutions? Globalization and Cosmopolitan Citizenship. Comparing national and transnational democracies, Indian and US democracy or you can just focus on the Indian democracy. How have transnational media organizations influenced Indian democratic structures since India’s entry into global capitalism?To what extent has social media helped and or hindered democracy in India?How has media’s role of a watchdog of the government functions changed in India? Has Indian media abandoned its obligation to social responsibility instilled in the era of socialist governance?


  1. You should begin to think of your research topic for the final paper from now on, week 6.
  1. Once you have some idea of a topic you will need to do a quick keyword library search (Oskicat) and figure out what is the scope of the topic.  It is only after you have reviewed a few peer-reviewed articles that you will be able to decide a specific focus. Research relevant media and cultural studies theories. Start by looking back to the articles you have studied in the course for both concepts and theoretical frames that you can apply to the research question/topic you are examining. Your topic should align with critical discussion of the ways in which media is crucial to shaping democracy, public culture and citizens.
  2. After doing a bit of research,  talk to your GSI and discuss your ideas before going ahead to the next stage. Begin to collect relevant material, like newspaper articles, information on the key debates on the topic and peer reviewed articles. You are welcome to come and meet with me in my office hours. The GSIs and I will be able to help you with this process once you have a broad idea of a research topic.
  3. Once you are certain about the research topic, formulate a research question.
  4. Formulate a thesis from your research question: The next step is to create an outline and decide on your thesis statement. What do you want to find out about your research topic? Your research question will narrow your focus. Then, move to the next part, which is the formulation of a thesis. What is your argument going to be?
  5. Over the Spring break: Once you have a thesis (remember that you can change this later if it does not reflect your research findings), start crafting and outline and your introduction. In the introduction, you need to discuss the background and the context of your research topic in its relation to media and democracy, e.g., why is your topic important in understanding this relationship, what are the key debates for the topic and how it fits into larger socio-political concerns either nationally and or transnationally.
  6. From Week 11, your GSIs will make time to meet with you about final research paper. In week 13, we will need to get serious and get you to produce an outline for the final research paper.
  7. You must use relevant course material. Four references must be from the course material and three will come from the independent research. Identify the relevant concepts related to the topic and elaborate on specific explanations of the theories, concepts, terms that have been covered in the class. Use empirical examples that are related your topic that can highlight your in-depth knowledge. Remember to  research and include the social, historical and geopolitical context of your topic.


Deadline: You will submit online on bspace through Turnitin on Friday, 8th May (11:59 pm) at the end of review week.

Incorporate a number of traditional academic sources (a combination of journals and academic monographs).

Submit an electronic copy online required through Turnitin plagiarism tool in bcourse.

Word limit minimum, 7-8 pages (1800). You will lose points if you go below 1800 or above 2200.

You must submit a Word document online and not a pdf document through bcourse turnitin submission. Use Times New Roman font,size 12. Get someone to proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.

You are required to cite at least 7 peer reviewed journal articles or book chapters (4 from the course and 3 from independent research).

Your grade will be determined by, (1) your comprehension, application, and critical thinking on key readings and course materials, (2) comprehension and application of key concepts, empirical examples and theories.  Critical thinking includes independent research.

Research Paper Structure

  1. Cover page with your research question and a thesis.
  2. Introduction: Briefly introduce your thesis originating in your research question and topic. Give reasons for choice of research question and thesis.
  3. Body of the paper will provide a critical analysis of your research topic. Some background information and the context of research topic is also useful. This usually means a historical and political context of the research topic. You should integrate contributions of scholars from seven ( mostly peer-reviewed journal articles but textbooks also allowed), four from the course and three from independent research. Your engagement with seven references should be substantive.
  4. Conclusion and Reflection: You should provide a brief summary of the paper and the ways in which your paper has provided strong evidence supporting your thesis originating in your research question.
  5. All quotations need page numbers. Try not to use many quotes as it is always better to paraphrase in your own words. Reference all scholars you have used.
  6. Bibliography should be at the end for all the references you have used in the essay. Be consistent with your citation style, be it APA and MLA citation style.

 Checklist at the end of writing process


Does it address the relationship of media to democracy and political culture? Does it show understanding of it? Does it provide an outline of the essay?


Are there clear paragraphs?

Does each address a specific point?

Does each help to build a logical argument?

Is the essay structured chronologically?

3.Application of theoretical and empirical information

Is there a discussion of key concepts?

Are key concepts consistent? Are there any misunderstandings of concepts?

Are claims supported with appropriate evidence, e.g.?

Statistics; quotations; references; examples (not personal/tabloid)

4.Knowledge and understanding of the topic

Does it show familiarity with key debates/literatures?

Are there any misunderstandings?

Clarity of argument

Is the argument easy to follow?

Are there any contradictions?

Are there any irrelevancies?


Does the student use his/her own examples/choice of quotations?

Does s/he provide own interpretations/critical analysis, in own words?

6.Writing / Presentation style

Are sentences too long/too short?

Write simply and concisely

Grammar – get help from study skills if needed

Spelling – be careful of spell checker


Does it restate the main argument?

Does it summarize the key points?

Does it show independent research?

See File on bcourse labeled Final research paper 

Final Research paper – How to develop a research question and a thesis? in the File