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Tanner Mirrlees, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Tanner Mirrlees, PhD Tanner Mirrlees, PhD

Assistant Professor and Director, Communication and Digital Media Studies, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

Analyzing the economic and political drivers and impacts of creative industries and cultural goods around the world



Tanner Mirrlees, PhD Publication Tanner Mirrlees, PhD Publication Tanner Mirrlees, PhD Publication



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The creative industries are powerful agents of economic, political and cultural change, in Canada and around the world. Tanner Mirrlees, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of the Communication and Digital Media Studies Program in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities (FSSH), is an award-winning teacher and communications scholar who advocates for media that supports democracy and social justice. His research focuses on key topics in the political economy of communications tradition such as empire and communications, cultural industries and cultural policy, the politics of popular culture, and the transformation of work in the global information age.

Early in his career, he has already authored several books including Hearts and Mines: The U.S. Empire’s Culture Industry, Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Globalization, and The Television Reader. An Associate of UOIT’s Decimal Lab, Dr. Mirrlees is also exploring first-of-its-kind research on how interactive war video games prefigure and feed into the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) research and development of transhuman technologies.

Engaging students in meaningful dialogue, intervening in real-world debates, and showcasing critical research in the field, Dr. Mirrlees received the FSSH Teaching Award in 2013, just one year after he joined UOIT. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University’s Department of Politics and Public Administration. Dr. Mirrlees earned his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Guelph, where he developed a passion for performance and the political meanings of texts. His interests shifted toward communication studies and he pursued a joint program at York University and Ryerson University, earning his Doctorate in Communication and Culture in 2008. That same year, he was honoured with the Governor General’s Award (Gold Medal) for the highest distinction in scholarship for the doctoral degree.

Industry Expertise (10)

Computer Gaming


Government Relations

International Trade and Development


Media - Broadcast


Motion Pictures and Film

Public Relations and Communications

Social Media

Areas of Expertise (10)


Political Communication

Popular Culture

Cultural Industries

Cultural Policy


Creative Work

International Relations



Accomplishments (3)

UOIT Faculty of Social Science and Humanities Teaching Award (professional)


Upon completion of his first year of teaching at UOIT, Dr. Mirrlees was received the award for his inspiring and engaging teaching methods.

Guelph-Humber Student Association Faculty Appreciation Award (professional)


This award is granted to a professor, selected by students, who demonstrates exceptional teaching skills and a willingness to go above and beyond the course requirements to meet student needs and facilitate a positive learning environment.

Governor General’s Award (Gold Medal) (professional)


This award is granted to a doctoral student for their outstanding scholastic achievements and graduation with the highest average.

Education (3)

York University and Ryerson University: PhD, Communication and Culture 2008

University of Guelph: MA, English and Theatre Studies 2002

University of Guelph: BA, English and Theatre Studies (Honours) 2001

Affiliations (5)

  • Canadian Communication Association
  • International Association of Media and Communication Research
  • Popular Culture Association of Canada
  • Union for Democratic Communications
  • Society for Utopian Studies

Media Appearances (4)

Looking at the popularity of making a murderer

Channel 12 Durham  tv


Tanner Mirrlees, Professor of Communication and Digital Media Studies, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at UOIT: “In the American media landscape, there’s long been this dramatic tension or this particular trope or thematic element that positions a “Big Government” state entities versus the “little guy.” And Steven Avery is the quintessential example of the little guy Everyman who is being effected in quite a negative way.”

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Social media posts spell the end of federal candidacies across Canada

Durham Region  online


Tanner Mirrlees is an assistant professor in UOIT’s Communications and Digital Media Studies program. He said it’s not uncommon for political parties to try to dredge up items that may embarrass their opponents. “But what’s new is we have this thing called the Internet and the world wide web, and social media in particular which is a treasure trove of personalized data and information about politicians that they may or may not even know exists.”

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Voter turnout is low: here’s why

Durham Region  online


We Canadians say we are proud to be part of one of the most democratic countries in the world and that we cherish democracy.

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Media Capitalism, the State, and 21st Century Media Democracy Struggles: An interview with Robert McChesney

MR Zine  online


Robert McChesney, eminent historian and political-economist of the media, founder of the Free Press, leading U.S. and international media activist, and author of The Political Economy of the Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas and Communication Revolution: Critical Junctures and the Future of the Media, spoke with Tanner Mirrlees, of the Socialist Project, about contemporary media capitalism and 21st century media democracy struggles to understand and change it.

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Event Appearances (10)

Transforming Transformers: How the DOD Communicates through Global Hollywood

Popular Culture Working Group, International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)  Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec


Revisiting Herbert I. Schiller: Communication and American Empire Today

Political Economy of Communication Section, IAMCR  Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec


Teaching (to) Labour in the Creative Industry: A Pedagogy of the Precariat?

Labour in Circulation: Perspectives from Communication and Cultural Studies  York University, Toronto, Ontario


Stuart Hall, Hegemony and Media 2.0

Society for Socialist Studies, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences  University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario


Speculative Policy-Making and Science Fiction: Elysium as a Critical Dystopia

Canadian Communication Association (CCA), Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences  University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario


An MICC in Canada?

UDC: Circuits of Struggle  University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario


Reality TV’s Low to Now Wage Workforce

The Paradox of Low-Wage, No-Wage Work, Alternate Routes  Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario


The Canadian Army’s YouTube Channel and Soldier-Generated Content

CCA, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities  Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario


Hollywood, the Financial Crisis and the End of the World

Historical Materialism  York University, Toronto, Ontario


A Critique of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Alternative Routes: Capitalism in the Classroom: Neoliberalism, Education and Progressive Alternatives  Toronto, Ontario


Courses (3)

Information and Society

COMM 2410U, 2nd Year, Undergraduate Course

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Entertainment Goes Global

COMM 2270U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course

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Work in the Information Age

COMM 3510U, 3rd Year Undergraduate Course

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Articles (6)

U.S. Empire and Communications, Today: Revisiting Herbert I. Schiller Political Economy of Communication


This article revisits, refines and renews Herbert I. Schiller’s theory of U.S. Empire and cultural imperialism. Apart from one exceptional book-length examination of Schiller’s life and work and a few excellent essays published following his passing, Schiller’s theory is often rejected by scholars inside and outside of the political economy of communication tradition. Although important changes have reshaped the global communications landscape over the past four decades, Schiller’s theory of U.S. Empire and cultural imperialism continues to have conceptual, descriptive and analytical value for 21st century research.

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Reality TV’s Embrace of the Intern triple C


This article describes and analyzes how 20 reality TV intern job ads for 19 different reality TV studios represent the work of interns and internships in the capitalist reality TV industry. By interrogating how the job postings depict the work that reality TV studios expect interns to do, the skills that TV studios expect interns to possess as a prerequisite to considering them eligible for mostly unpaid positions, the asymmetrical power relations between studios and interns, and the studios’ utilization of “hope” for a career-relevant experience to recruit interns, the article argues that the reality TV intern is actually a misclassified worker.

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A Critique of the Millennial: A Retreat from and Return to Class Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research


Since the turn of the millennium, millions of people born between the late 1970s and the late 1990s have been categorized as millennials. A media discourse tells people what a millennial is and is not, shaping how those people it depicts as millennial may perceive themselves and how others perceive them. This paper examines four media representations of the millennial: a member of a youth cohort, a consumer, a worker to be managed, and an immiserated victim of hard times.

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The Canadian Armed Forces “YouTube War”: A Cross-Border Military-Social Media Complex Global Media Journal: Canadian Edition


The goal of this paper is to conceptualize, contextualize, and critically analyze the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) use of YouTube to promote itself, recruit soldiers, and frame its role in the post-9/11 U.S.-led NATO war in Afghanistan.

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Prospects for Communication and Culture in Canada Social Sciences Research Network


This paper introduces Canadian communication studies research focused on the nexus of social power and the media. Combining political economy and critical cultural studies approaches, the paper conceptualizes the media as a site where power is exercised, reinforced and contested and engages with critical studies of the power relations between media owners and media workers, media corporations and the nation-state, and corporate-government media complexes, media messages and media viewers.

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Digital Militainment by Design: Producing and Playing SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics


This article examines the nexus of global digital capitalism and U.S. militarism in two popular war games: SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs and SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs.

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