Mikkel Bækby Johansen

Mikkel Bækby Johansen


I study culture wars, opinion spaces, public discourse, intellectualism, and platform cultures. I specialize in research about the mediated cultural diffusion of ideas, the positioning strategies and performances of public figures, and the negotiation over authority in a hybrid media landscape.

My current research in the HorizonEurope project ‘SMIDGE’ is centred on the production and diffusion of conspiracy theories and potentially extremist narratives on social media.

As both PhD fellow and postdoc, I have studied intellectuals and their audiences, journalists, celebrities, and cultural intermediaries, asking questions such as: Who do we listen to when forming our opinion on politics, art, and other domains of public culture? What is the distinct role of media in constructing authority around public figures and their arguments?

In my dissertation, ‘Public Intellectualism in the Digital Age: The Case of the Intellectual Dark Web on YouTube’, I develop a theory of contemporary public intellectualism, focusing specifically on authority constructions and positioning on YouTube, based on empirical case studies of public intellectuals Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Coleman Hughes.

Other research interests include: cultural critique, journalism, public opinion and democracy, and the changing institutional orders of Western societies. My academic profile is situated between the disciplines of Media Studies, Journalism Studies, and Philosophy, while also History and social theory have had a special impact on my general analytical approach. 

Besides my research, I teach various courses in Media Studies.

Fields of interest

  • Cultural criticism
  • Journalism
  • Political philosophy and public sphere theory
  • Public intellectuals, experts and opinionators
  • Digital platforms
  • Culture wars and the configuration of cultural values



  • Journalism, Culture and Society: Theory and analysis (MA).
  • Academic Internship (Projektorienteret forløb), 30 ECTS (MA).
  • Introduction to Film- and Media Studies (BA).


  • BA projects in Media Studies.
  • MA theses in Media Studies.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Sense and sensibility in intellectual discourse on YouTube: Anti-emotional positioning in the case of Affleck vs. Harris

    Johansen, Mikkel Bækby, 2023, In: Journal for Cultural Research.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Public Intellectuals on New Platforms: Constructing Critical Authority in a Digital Media Culture

    Johansen, Mikkel Bækby, 2021, Rethinking Cultural Criticism: New Voices in the Digital Age. Kristensen, N. N., From, U. & Haastrup, H. K. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 17-42 25 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Public Intellectualism in the Digital Age: the case of the Intellectual Dark Web on YouTube

    Johansen, Mikkel Bækby, 26 Dec 2022, København. 327 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

ID: 212554169