At Civic Studios, we research and produce civic entertainment

 

Civic Studios is a production house based in Mumbai, India. Incubated at the MIT Media Lab, the production house focuses on creating content in the genre of Civic Entertainment i.e. films, television, radio, and digital content, that encourages civic engagement, creates knowledge about public institutions, and illustrates various models of change and participation. 

MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA

Research @MIT Media Lab

The Civic Entertainment research project at the Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab studies models of democratic participation, develops frameworks around citizen engagement, and explores the ways in which entertainment can create thought and behavior-change. 

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Content Production

Civic Studios creates and supports stories about public institutions such as the executive, legislature, judiciary, and bureaucracy, and aims to present narratives around accountability, monitoring, and citizen participation to strengthen these institutions.


Problem Statement

Civics is the study of rights and duties, but little in the real world prepares us to exercise or practice these rights and duties. For public institutions and government to function well in a democracy monitoring, accountability, and feedback through citizen participation are vital.

Peter Levine, professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University, argues that the subject of “philosophy addresses the nature of justice but not actions that might be available to you to make the world most just”, political science is about the study of government and politics, but not “what you and I should do together”, and professional schools may teach us how to be lawyers or policy-makers, but “no department teaches strategies for citizens”.

Barriers to civic participation include:

  1. Limited knowledge about government systems and processes

  2. Mistrust of political and public institutions

  3. Lack of self-efficacy in citizen power

Research Streams

 

  • Developing frameworks of civic engagement and the cost and consequence of participation

  • Understanding the power of fiction media towards creating thought and behavior-change

  • Creating case studies of past and current civic entertainment film and television shows from around the world

  • Studying the representation of protest and activism in the news and in popular culture

The research has a special focus on civic entertainment in India and will additionally include:

  • Researching models of modern day civic participation in India

  • Exploring representation of civic, social, and political change in Bollywood and other Indian entertainment

 

Click here for the MIT Media Lab project page


The studio offers financial, research, and creative support for content in the space of civic entertainment.

Production and financing | In-house development and production, as well as co-financing and co-production of projects that fit the studio’s goals.

Grants | Grants for projects that are seen as relevant to civic entertainment. Such a grant may be given at any stage of development from pre to post production.

Research and impact strategy consulting | Qualitative and quantitative audience research as well as impact planning and evaluation services for external projects.

Writing and research workshops | In order to build research, talent, and a community around civic entertainment, the studio hosts and organizes workshops and events specific to this genre.

Fellowships | 2 to 12 month residential or remote fellowships for research and/ or content creation on subjects relevant to civic entertainment.

Types of stories and narratives:

  • Awareness and knowledge of how government and public institutions function

  • Examples of real-world citizen participation and their success stories

  • Method narratives on practicing power through protest, petition, plea

  • Stories of activists and activism, reform and not just revolution

  • Accounts from inside the system by bureaucrats, policy-makers, and political leaders

  • Perspectives and experiences of under-represented identities and communities

Anushka Shah   Founder, Strategy & Operations

Anushka Shah

Founder, Strategy & Operations

Roohi Bhatia   Content Manager

Roohi Bhatia

Content Manager

Samyuktha Varma   Research Lead - Civic Participation

Samyuktha Varma

Research Lead - Civic Participation

Gregory Almeida   Researcher - Media Analytics

Gregory Almeida

Researcher - Media Analytics

 
Kavindya Thennakoon   Research Fellow - Media Impact

Kavindya Thennakoon

Research Fellow - Media Impact

Rounak Maiti   Research Fellow - Perceptions of Public Institutions

Rounak Maiti

Research Fellow - Perceptions of Public Institutions

Ethan Zuckerman   Advisor, MIT Media Lab

Ethan Zuckerman

Advisor, MIT Media Lab

John Firth   Advisor, MIT Economics; Center for Global Development

John Firth

Advisor, MIT Economics; Center for Global Development

Contact Us

If you're interested in our research at the Media Lab, keen on partnering with us for a study, want to send our Mumbai-based production firm a content idea or submission, or just want to talk to us about civic entertainment, we would love to hear from you!

Click here to see any open positions at Civic Studios, Mumbai and the MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA.

 
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