Communities and Communication conference reflections

Figure 1: Phil Hill (2021) Conference paper and presentation

I found the experience of delivering a paper on my research to be a really valuable one (Fig: 1). Even though the presentation centered around the photography that I was producing for the last module, the paper that I wrote was written recently and created an opportunity to re-assess some of the research that I have done throughout this MA. It highlighted the areas that remain relevant to my practice and also some of the areas, which I had moved on from but would benefit on a closer re-evaluation for the FMP. For example, Barthes’ concept of the idiorythmic is and area worth applying to my current work – how we have our beliefs but entrench and separate them from each other, even refusing to accept the opinion of others. This is something that I can use for ‘Unreliable Narrator.’ Barthes also spends time discussing the way that a communities sense of self is built on (among other things) what it excludes, but also can choose to keep the expunged close as a way of comparing oneself (2012, p. 81). There are also elements of distance, which Barthes refers to Nietzsche’s ‘Pathos of Distance’ to highlight the way we elevate ourselves above what we wish to expel to create a kind of nobility (p. 132). I made this reference in relation to the way that we distanced ourselves during the pandemic but feel that it could easily refer to the way that we distance ourselves from one another through belief and ideas. I came to this research fairly early in the MA process but quite enjoy the way that its importance changes with the context of the way that I work.

Ross, was also working on delivering a paper at a separate conference, and it was also really valuable to gain peer support in the writing and editing of the presentation.

Figure 2: Phil Hill & Communities & Communication (2021) Online Communities and Communication Conference

Conference takeaways

Keynote speaker, Nichola Twemlow made an interesting observation regarding the young people that she supports through the YMCA. Talking about the value of communities, she noted:

“people can define themselves by the labels they are given”


This really resonated with me and the way that I might consider applying class under the project themes. Working at an FE college I can really relate to this statement as the demographic of students that I teach regularly do not believe in themselves and the potential value that they have. For example, the Btec qualification that they study is considered slang for something being second rate – ‘that’s such a Btec xxx.’ It also really resonates with my own personal experiences if growing up within a working class home – the idea that you are not good enough is something that I hear often from my close family and potentially fuel for some of the other beliefs that they hold. Darren Mcgarvey understands this feeling when he discussed the way that the EU referendum argument for remain was based very much in the ‘on average’ benefits that it would have without truly grasping that if you come from a below average (economically) then these are not actually benefits to you (2018).

Twemlow’s statement is a useful method of framing aspects of my project and a way of discussing some of the content that I might include in a final sequence.


Barthes, R., 2012. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of some Everyday Spaces. Translation ed. New York: Columbia University Press.

McGarvey, D., 2018. Poverty Safari. Main market edition ed. London: Picador.

Twemlow, N., 2021. Communities and Communication Conference 2021: Connections. Staffordshire, Staffordshire University.

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