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Steven Ciampaglia

Culture Spy: Teenage Cultural Production and Media Conglomeration

This study explored the effect media conglomeration has on the ability of teenagers to actively participate in the production of their own culture.

A 6-week critical participatory action research case study was conducted with 15 teenage collaborators from the Chicago area. During the course of the study, the participants collected cultural data on their peers by employing the same surveillance techniques used by teen correspondents working undercover for marketing agencies. From this data, the participants formulated a profile of contemporary teen culture. The participants then compared their profile of teen culture with representations of teen culture presented in popular media texts marketed specifically to teenagers, including movies, television shows, commercials, magazines, catalogs, websites, etc.

The participants expressed their findings in commentaries produced in the media forms they had critiqued: video, audio, photography, and digital graphics. These commentaries were compiled and published on a website for teenagers called CultureSpy.com.


Steven Ciampaglia received his BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1994. Before attending SAIC, Steven was a training coordinator for CAN-TV (Chicago’s cable access television station). In 2001, he won a Hometown Video Festival Award from The Alliance for Community Media for his co-production of Kiss the Vote 2000, a television program produced in collaboration with people with developmental disabilities. Steven has taught media production classes at Marwen, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Stockyard Institute, and SAIC.


Thesis Advisor: Dalida Maria Benfield Associate Professor, Chair, Art Education

Thesis Reader: John Ploof Assistant Professor, Art Education; Director, MAAE Program

Second Reader: Kevin Tavin




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