I’m an early career researcher in political communication, and Teaching Fellow in Research Methods in the School of Politics and International Relations and Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London.

I completed my PhD in the New Political Communication Unit in 2018. My thesis provides a new theoretical model for explaining how celebrities work across the fields of entertainment and politics. I argue for a renewed focus on the role of representation in this pursuit of political authority, finding across case studies that celebrities intervene in the political field through claims to represent the interests of citizens. The research for this thesis was varied and unpredictable, taking me from marches around London behind (beside?) Russell Brand, through trawling tweets about celebrity endorsements during the 2015 General Election campaign, to talking feminism with citizens on Emma Watson’s online book group. I have broad research interests, but always come back to questions of how politics and popular culture intersect and what this means for citizens.

I’ve been turning my cautionary tales into research methods teaching at Royal Holloway since 2015, across quantitative and qualitative methods. I currently co-convene a module where first year students conduct their own research using interviews, focus groups and textual methods, and occasionally put me to shame. I often catch myself talking about research methods outside the classroom because other people have been too polite to stop me, especially digital methods.

You can follow me on Twitter, or email me at ellen.watts11@gmail.com


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