His earlier work concerned contemporary media audiences, and has moved towards a focus on the everyday making and sharing of digital media and social media, as well as the power of making in general, and the role of these activities in self-identity and building creative cultures.
Gauntlett graduated from the University of York in Sociology in 1992. He completed an MA in Women's Studies at Lancaster University then took his PhD and then taught at the University of Leeds from 1993 to 2002, then was appointed Professor of Media and Audiences at Bournemouth University. In 2006 he joined the School of Media, Arts and Design at University of Westminster as Professor of Media and Communications, becoming Co-Director of the Communications and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), from 2010-15. From 2015-17 he took a new title as Professor of Creativity and Design, and became Director of Research across Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design.
In 2018 he took up a role as a Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University, Toronto. In a blog post he attributed the move to dismay at Brexit, as well as a wish to do more interdisciplinary and creative work.
Gauntlett's critique of media 'effects' studies sparked controversy in 1995, and since then he has published a number of books and research on the role of popular media in people's lives. In particular he has focused on the way in which digital media is changing the experience of media in general. Since the late 1990s he produced the website Theory.org.uk.
In the 2008 book, Reading Media Theory, Barlow & Mills state: "David Gauntlett is a prominent, public academic, who has spent his career engaging in research activities which have deliberately involved the public, and have crossed the traditional divide between the academic community and the outside world."
New creative research methods
This approach asks participants to make something as part of the research process. Gauntlett's work of this kind began with Video Critical (1997), in which children were asked to make videos about the environment, and then in a number of projects which are discussed in Creative Explorations (2007). As well as studies in which participants have been invited to make video, diaries, collage, and drawings, Gauntlett has explored the use of Lego Serious Play as a tool in sociology and social research. This approach makes use of metaphor and invites participants to build metaphorical models of their identities. The process of making something, and then reflecting upon it, is claimed to give a more nuanced insight into participants' feelings or experiences.
Media Studies 2.0
In 2007, Gauntlett published online the article Media Studies 2.0, which created some discussion amongst media studies educators. The article argues that the traditional form of media studies teaching and research fails to recognise the changing media landscape in which the categories of 'audiences' and 'producers' blur together, and in which new research methods and approaches are needed. Andy Ruddock has written that Gauntlett's "ironic polemic" includes "much to value", and acknowledges that the argument "is more strategy than creed", but argues that audiences still exist, and experience mass media specifically as audience, and so it would be premature to dispose of the notion of 'audience' altogether. In other areas there has been less acceptance: Andy Medhurst at Sussex University wrote of Media Studies 2.0, 'Isn't it odd that whenever someone purportedly identifies a new paradigm, they see themselves as already a leading practitioner of it?'
Making is Connecting
In 2008 Gauntlett proposed 'the Make and Connect Agenda', an attempt to rethink audience studies in the context of media users as producers as well as consumers of media material. This argues that there is a shift from a 'sit-back-and-be-told culture' to a 'making-and-doing culture', and that harnessing creativity in both Web 2.0 and in other everyday creative activities will play a role in tackling environmental problems.
These ideas are developed further in his best-known book 'Making is Connecting: The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0' (Polity, 2011). The book was described by Clay Shirky as 'a terrific account of how creativity, craft, and community intersect in the 21st century'.
The Second Edition of 'Making is Connecting' was published in 2018, including "many new sections as well as three brand new chapters on creative processes, do–it–yourself strategies, and platforms for creativity".
- Making is Connecting: Second Expanded Edition (Polity, 2018).
- Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media and Communications Studies (Peter Lang, 2015).
- Making is Connecting: The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0 (Polity, 2011). Translations published in Korean (2011) and Italian (2013).
- Media Studies 2.0, and Other Battles around the Future of Media Research (Kindle, 2011).
- Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences (London: Routledge, 2007).
- Media, Gender and Identity (Routledge, 2002; second edition, 2008).
- Web.Studies (edited collection, Arnold & Oxford Univ Press, 2000; second edition, co-edited with Ross Horsley, 2004). Chinese translation published 2003.
- TV Living: Television, Culture and Everyday Life (Routledge, 1999). Written with Annette Hill.
- Video Critical: Children, The Environment and Media Power (John Libbey, 1997).
- Moving Experiences (John Libbey, 1995; second edition, 2005).
- "Recent Publications". Grapevine. Alumni Office, University of York (Autumn/Winter 1997): 23.
- David Gauntlett (2017), 'News from me: Hello Canada!', 4 September 2017
- David Gauntlett (1995), Moving Experiences: Understanding Television's Influences and Effects, London: John Libbey
- David Gauntlett (2005), Moving Experiences, second edition: Media Effects and Beyond, London: John Libbey
- Will Woodward (1999), 'Viewers admit their guilt at watching too much TV', The Guardian newspaper, Friday 30 April 1999
- David Gauntlett and Annette Hill (1999), TV Living: Television, Culture and Everyday Life, London: Routledge
- Charlie Peverett (2002), Review of 'Media, Gender and Identity' Archived 12 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine, HERO: The official online gateway to Higher Education, 2002
- David Gauntlett (2002, second edition 2008), Media, Gender and Identity, London: Routledge
- AHRC Case Studies: Young People's Engagement with Online Immersive Worlds, Arts and Humanities Research Council, May 2008
- Dan Sabbagh (2008), 'Viewers Boys and girls stay in to play on BBC's virtual island Adventure Rock', The Times newspaper, 22 May 2008
- Julian McDougall (2007), 'Creative Transformations: What to do with "Media 2.0"?', In The Picture – The Media Education Magazine[permanent dead link], Issue 58, November 2007
- David Gauntlett (2000), 'A double dose of digital drivel', The Times Higher Educational Supplement, 22 September 2000
- David Gauntlett, ed (2000), Web.Studies: Rewiring Media Studies For The Digital Age, London: Arnold
- David Gauntlett and Ross Horsley, eds (2004), Web.Studies: Second edition, London: Arnold
- Times Higher Education (1999), 'Fou.cault.uk', 19 March 1999
- Times Higher Educational Supplement, Awards Shortlist Archived 5 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, September 2007.
- David M. Barlow and Brett Mills (2008), Reading Media Theory: Thinkers, Approaches, Contexts, London: Pearson Education, p.422.
- University of Oslo (2007), Creative Production, Self-expression and Identity Archived 31 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Intermedia, University of Oslo
- David Gauntlett (1997), Video Critical: Children, The Environment and Media Power, London: John Libbey
- David Gauntlett (2007), Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences, London: Routledge
- Anthea Lipsett (2005), 'Lego and professor click over research', The Times Higher Educational Supplement, 8 April 2005
- Representing Identities, part one (2008), video about creative methods research, on YouTube
- Arts and Humanities Research Council, list of research awards
- Times Higher Education (2008), 'Grant winners', 7 February 2008
- British Film Institute, Media Studies Conference 2007 Archived 7 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 4–6 July 2007
- Transforming Audiences International Conference, 6–7 September 2007
- Andy Ruddock (2008), 'Media Studies 2.0? Binge Drinking and Why Audiences Still Matter', Sociology Compass, Volume 2 Issue 1 Page 1-15, January 2008.
- 'Towards a Brave New World? The Media Studies 2.0 Debate' Archived 3 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, presentation by Geoff Lealand, University of Waikato, at AMES conference, May 2007
- Blog/forum about Media Studies 2.0 by William Merrin
- 'Micromedia: The Power of Many Ones'[permanent dead link] by Ravindra Mohabeer
- David Gauntlett (2008), 'The Make and Connect Agenda', online at http://www.theory.org.uk/david/makeandconnect.htm.
- David Gauntlett (2009), 'Making is Connecting', extracts etc online at http://www.makingisconnecting.org.
- Polity Press, 'Making is Connecting: Second Expanded Edition'