Professor David Hesmondhalgh


I did my PhD in the 1990s at Goldsmiths, University of London, on independent record companies and their links with punk, post-punk and rave culture, supervised by Georgina Born. My first full-time teaching and research job was also at Goldsmiths. I worked in the Sociology department at the Open University from 1999 to 2007 where I chaired the production of a major course, Understanding Media, which involved five books and many other distance-learning materials. I've been at Leeds since 2007, and from June 2010 to December 2013 was Head of the Institute of Communications Studies - this was the name of the School of Media and Communication prior to August 2014.

Much of my research has been about music. My book, Why Music Matters (published in September 2013), was about the ways in which music might enhance people's lives, individually and collectively, and what often stops it from doing so. It's been translated into Spanish and Russian.

I'm also known for my research on media industries and media production. My book The Cultural Industries (Sage) is an analysis of changes and continuities in television, film, music, publishing and other industries since the 1980s, and of the rise of the tech platform corporations that have played an increasingly important role. The fourth edition, published in December 2018, is a thoroughly revised, updated and expanded version of the third, published in 2012. It's now unrecognisable from the first edition of 2002, and has grown to over 500 pages. It's been translated into various languages, including Chinese, Russian and Italian.

Another widely cited book is Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries, (co-written with Sarah Baker, 2010) which examined work in the contemporary media and cultural industries. The book was based on research funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2006 to 2009. It’s been translated into Korean. 

Culture, Economy and Politics: The Case of New Labour (Palgrave, 2015, co-written with Kate Oakley, David Lee and Melissa Nisbett) was a critical study of the cultural policies of the British 'New Labour' government of 1997 to 2010. It covered arts and 'creative industries' policies, heritage, regional cultural development, and various other issues, and was based on research funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2012 to 2014. 

I've also edited various books and a special journal issue on 'Race, ethnicity and cultural production', jointly with Anamik Saha.

My current research projects include a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office on Music Creators’ Income in the Streaming Era (PI: Hyojung Sun, University of Ulster; CI: Richard Osborne, Middlesex University) and How Cultural Workers Negotiate Racism in the Digital Era (PI: Francesca Sobande, Cardiff University, CI: Anamik Saha, Goldsmiths University of London), funded by the ESRC Digital Futures at Work Research Centre Innovation Fund. I also lead the Cultural and Creative Industries strand of the ESRC Digital Futures at Work Research Centre

I’ve been awarded paid Fellowships/Visiting Scholar positions at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania (2016) and by Microsoft Research New England (2019) as part of the Social Media Collective there. At Leeds, I have affiliations with the Centre for Employment Research Innovation and Change and the Bauman Institute, 

I'm often asked how my name is pronounced. Here's my attempt to transcribe it: 'Hez-mun-dalsh', with the stress on the first syllable. But nearly everyone gets it wrong, and I really don't mind. I live in Yorkshire but the name comes from East Lancashire – and so do I. 


  • REF Unit of Assessment Lead

Research interests

My research interests include the following, and I welcome PhD enquiries in these and other areas:

  • Digital platforms as they relate to media and culture, e.g. music and video streaming services
  • Media industries/cultural industries/creative industries
  • All aspects of media and cultural production, contemporary and historical
  • Music, society and culture, including popular music
  • Social theory and theories of media, and the relations between them, especially with regards to inequality and justice (including dynamics of race, gender, and class)
  • Media work, employment, careers etc.
  • Media and cultural policy
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA Oxford, MA Northwestern, PhD London

Student education

In 2020-21 I’m leading the undergraduate dissertation module and a new module on Digital Platforms, as well as serving as Programme Leader on the MA in Promotional Media. 

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>