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   Anushka works as a researcher at the Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab where she runs the Civic Entertainment project, and is also the founder of Civic Studios. Anushka has a background in applied statistics and digital text analysis, and has previously worked with non-profits and political parties in India. She divides her time between Mumbai and Boston.

Anushka Shah | Founder

Anushka works as a researcher at the Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab where she runs the Civic Entertainment project, and is also the founder of Civic Studios. Anushka has a background in applied statistics and digital text analysis, and has previously worked with non-profits and political parties in India. She divides her time between Mumbai and Boston.

Roohi Bhatia | Content Manager   Roohi has worked in content management, qualitative research, and PR across the development and corporate sectors. She is passionate about creating content that drives social impact at scale. At Civic Studios, she manages audience research and creative production.

Roohi Bhatia | Content Manager

Roohi has worked in content management, qualitative research, and PR across the development and corporate sectors. She is passionate about creating content that drives social impact at scale. At Civic Studios, she manages audience research and creative production.

Namrata Sharma | Research Manager   Namrata has worked in social research, program design and organizational management within the development sector in India. She is focused on using design thinking principles and research to develop effective social interventions, and measure their impact. At Civic Studios Namrata leads qualitative and quantitative research on civic, social and development issues.

Namrata Sharma | Research Manager

Namrata has worked in social research, program design and organizational management within the development sector in India. She is focused on using design thinking principles and research to develop effective social interventions, and measure their impact. At Civic Studios Namrata leads qualitative and quantitative research on civic, social and development issues.

Samyuktha Varma | Senior Researcher   Samyuktha has a background in water management, sanitation, social policy and gender. At Civic Studios she conducts research on civic participation theory and practices in India. She also hosts a podcast called In The Field that looks at development issue in India.

Samyuktha Varma | Senior Researcher

Samyuktha has a background in water management, sanitation, social policy and gender. At Civic Studios she conducts research on civic participation theory and practices in India. She also hosts a podcast called In The Field that looks at development issue in India.

 
Gregory Almeida | Researcher   Greg is currently a law student in Mumbai and he has 9 years of work experience between the social sector and event management industry. At Civic Studios, he focuses on the intersect of law, civics, and media.

Gregory Almeida | Researcher

Greg is currently a law student in Mumbai and he has 9 years of work experience between the social sector and event management industry. At Civic Studios, he focuses on the intersect of law, civics, and media.

Kavindya Thennakoon | Research Fellow   Kavindya Thennakoon is an anthropology and film studies major at Wellesley College with a focus on design anthropology and development. Her fellowship with the Civic Entertainment project at MIT Media Lab focuses on developing guidelines for creating entertainment with impact.

Kavindya Thennakoon | Research Fellow

Kavindya Thennakoon is an anthropology and film studies major at Wellesley College with a focus on design anthropology and development. Her fellowship with the Civic Entertainment project at MIT Media Lab focuses on developing guidelines for creating entertainment with impact.

Rounak Maiti | Research Fellow   Rounak Maiti is an artist, writer and researcher from Mumbai, India, living in Los Angeles, with an academic background in Cognitive Science and Cultural Studies. At Civic Studios, Rounak has lead an ethnographic research project exploring Indian citizens' perceptions surrounding the legal system.

Rounak Maiti | Research Fellow

Rounak Maiti is an artist, writer and researcher from Mumbai, India, living in Los Angeles, with an academic background in Cognitive Science and Cultural Studies. At Civic Studios, Rounak has lead an ethnographic research project exploring Indian citizens' perceptions surrounding the legal system.

Ethan Zuckerman | Advisor   Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists.

Ethan Zuckerman | Advisor

Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists.

Opportunities

  • Media Research Fellowship (posted June 2019)

  • Research Internships (posted June 2019)

Please click here to see details of all opportunities.

There are no other open positions at the moment, but if you believe your work and background align with our interests, please do drop us an email at hello@civicstudios.com.

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!

Please email us at hello@civicstudios.com, or then leave a message below.

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