My Research Vision
My vision is to produce thought provoking quality research that is relevant to academics, practitioners and wider society. Growing up in post-conflict Northern Ireland, I became aware of the existence of competing public discourses. This experience fuelled my desire to investigate how public messages are produced and disseminated, alongside their impact in a divided society and in contemporary democracies generally. I believe exploring the roles and relationships of ‘communication elites’ is paramount to understanding the workings – and health – of democratic societies. I seek to collaborate with academics, practitioners and communities to deliver high impact, internationally recognised research in the areas of politics and government, trust, media and communication.
Charis Rice is a Research Associate at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) at Coventry University, working in the Trust and Workplace Relations group. Charis obtained her PhD from the University of Ulster in the area of Government Communication. She has since worked as a Lecturer in Communication and as a Research Consultant for a major Management Consultancy. Her research interests focus on political communication and on exploring trust, power, and communication at an interpersonal and institutional level. Charis is also interested in the role of Ministerial Special Advisers; she has published in a Special Edition journal on this topic and is currently planning further collaborative research in this area. Charis has published in a variety of peer reviewed journals and presented her work at a host of international conferences including: the International Communication Association (ICA), the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), the Political Studies Association (PSA), and the International Conference in Public Policy (ICPP). She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
- Rice, C. and Somerville, I. (2017) ‘Political contest and oppositional voices in post-conflict democracy: The impact of institutional design on government-media relations’, International Journal of Press/Politics, 22(1):92-110. Online first doi: 10.1177/1940161216677830.
- Somerville, I. and Rice, C. (2016) ‘Deliberative democracy and government public relations in a deeply divided society: Exploring the perspectives of Government Information Officers in Northern Ireland’. In: Somerville, I., Taylor, M., Toledano, M., and Hargie, O., (Eds.) International Public Relations: Perspectives from Deeply Divided Societies (pp.72-93). London: Routledge.
- Rice, C., Somerville, I., and Wilson, J. (2015) 'Democratic Communication and the Role of Special Advisers in Northern Ireland's Consociational Government'. International Journal of Public Administration 38 (1), 4-14.
- Rice, C., and Somerville, I. (2013) 'Power-sharing and political public relations: Government-press relationships in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions'. Public Relations Review, 39 (4), 293-302.
- Rice, C., Somerville, I., and Wilson, J. (2013) 'Government communication in a post-conflict society: Contest and negotiation in Northern Ireland's consociational democratic experiment'. In Organisational and Strategic Communication Research: European Perspectives. ed. by Concalves, G., Somerville, I., and Melo, A. Portugal: Livros LabCom, 167-191
- Government communication in the devolved, power-sharing context of Northern Ireland
Doctoral research funded by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL), Northern Ireland. This research analyses government communication within Northern Ireland. The central focus of the thesis is the roles and relationships of government communicators and journalists in the power-sharing post-conflict context of Northern Ireland, and how they can be located within broader debates about government communication in democratic societies. In-depth elite interviews were carried out with two kinds of government communicators, civil servant Government Information Officers (GIOs) and politically appointed Ministerial Special Advisers (SpAds), as well as political journalists working in Northern Ireland. This method enabled a comprehensive analysis of the government communication process. As with other political contexts, power and trust dynamics between these individuals are important in explicating how information is disseminated from government, and how it is managed between government and the media. However, this thesis also illuminates the particular issues which a consociational system and post-conflict context produce for government communication, thereby addressing the wider democratic implications of government communication for a post-conflict society.
- Democratic responsibility in a divided society: exploring public trust in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
Post-doctoral research funded by Coventry University. Through in-depth interviews with three fundamental groups in the democratic process, the media, government and community representatives, this project aims to produce new insight into trust in Northern Ireland. While the discourse of post-conflict civic life often includes reference to issues of ‘trust’ and communicating trust, little is understood about what this means to the key groups involved in the creation or otherwise, of public trust. The project seeks to improve understanding of public trust among stakeholders e.g. government, media, scholars and citizens in Northern Ireland and to provide practical recommendations for successful trust building in the long term. The findings from this project will be used to inform a larger comparative research project into trust in divided or post-conflict societies with international partners.