Erika Polson

Erika Polson

Associate Professor

Director of Internships

  • Faculty

What I do

Associate Professor, Media, Film and Journalism Studies
Director of Internships for MFJS


globalization, digital media, cultural communication, digital placemaking, geomedia, media and status

Professional Biography

Erika Polson joined the University of Denver in 2011, after receiving a PhD in Mass Communication from Penn State University in 2009 and spending two years as a professor of global media studies at Saint Louis University's Madrid campus. Dr. Polson teaches in the media studies, strategic communication, and international/intercultural communication programs in the MFJS department. Her research focuses on globalization and media, and more recently on digital media and global mobility, and appears in publications such as Media, Culture & Society; Communication, Culture & Critique; the International Journal of Communication; and New Media & Society, among other journals and edited collections. She is the author of Privileged Mobilities: Professional Migration, Geo-social Media, and a New Global Middle Class (2016), and co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Media and Class (2020) and the special issue on ‘Digital Placemaking’ in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (June 2021).


  • Ph.D., Mass Communication, The Pennsylvania State University, 2009
  • MA, Integrated Marketing Communications, Emerson College, 1999
  • BA, Liberal Studies, Oregon State University, 1996

Professional Affiliations

  • International Communication Association
  • International Association of Media and Communication Research
  • Association of Internet Research


Since Privileged Mobilities came out in 2016, Dr. Polson has continued to research digital media and globalizing middle classes, often focusing on digital place-making practices of mobile people. Through a series of recent case studies, she has critically examined how location-aware platforms and social media serve to connect people (temporarily) to place through the production of experience, and how the growing market for experiences is altering boundaries and creating new and contested claims to places.

In a chapter written for Papacharissi's The Networked Self, Vol 2 (2018), Polson explores how, as travel experiences pass repetitively through social media channels, they seem increasingly staged or cliché; as travelers seek new ways of obtaining unique experiences, such authentic travel experiences are increasingly sought through efforts to “live like a local”. She critically considers how AirBnb, EatWith, Tinder, and similar apps are used to connect travelers to local experiences. In another chapter (in the Routledge Companion to Media & Class (2020) co-edited with Lynn Schofield Clark and Radhika Gajjala), she analyzes a range of discourses about being or becoming a digital nomad, critically considering them in a political-economic context of labor and mobility. More recently Dr. Polson co-authored a study of how AirBnb Experience hosts shifted their work to Online Experiences to help 'travelers' experience place through virtual experience in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of a Special Issue on the topic of "digital placemaking" (which she co-edited with Germaine Halegoua) in the journal, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (2021).

Closer to home, Polson examines street art murals in Denver’s RiNo Art District, and explores how practices of circulating the images on Instagram may play a role in the gentrification of the district for an article in a special issue of Space & Culture on the topic, "gentrification and the right to the geomedia city."

Areas of Research

global middle class
geo-social media
digital placemaking
privileged mobilities

Featured Publications

Halegoua, G., & Polson, E. (2021). Exploring digital placemaking. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 27(2).
Polson, E. (2018). 'Doing' Local: Place-Based Travel Apps and the Globally Networked Self. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Platforms, Stories, Connections. (Vol. 2). Routledge.
Polson, E. (2019). Information SuperCalle: Fixed Mobility on Havana's WiFi Streets. In R. Wilken, G. Goggin, & H. Horst (Eds.), Location Technologies in International Contexts. New York, NY / London, USA / United Kingdom: Routledge.
Polson, E. (2011). Belonging to the network society: Social media and the production of a new global middle class. Communication, Culture & Critique, 4(2), 144-163.
Polson, E. (2016). Negotiating independent mobility: Single female expats in Bangalore. European Journal of Cultural Studies.


Polson, E. (2021). Socialities and Mobility Fetishism. GeoMedia 2021. Online/Remote: University of Siegen (Germany).
Polson, E. (2020). Panel: Socializing the networked individual: Considering mobile socialities. Association of Internet Researchers. online: AoIR.
Polson, E. (2021). The "Hashtag Sociality" of #Solotravelers. International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference. Online/Remote: International Communication Association.
Polson, E. (2020). Panel: Digital Placemaking. Association of Internet Researchers. online: AoIR.
Polson, E. (2019). Digital nomads and the production of aspirational mobility. Media Colloquium. Copenhagen, Denmark: IT University of Copenhagen.
Polson, E. (2019). From the tag to the #hashtag: Street art, Instagram, and gentrification. Aesthetics of Gentrification. Portland, OR: Slow Lab at University of Oregon.
Polson, E. (2018). The Socialities of Place-Based Mobile. ICA Annual Conference. Prague, Czech Republic: Place-Based Travel Apps and the Aspiring Local.
Polson, E. (2018). Mobile Girls: Geo-Social Media and the Feminization of Expat Labor. Media, Techno-political Action, and Social Justice Symposium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University School of Communication and Information.
Polson, E. (2018). Place-Based Travel Apps and the Aspiring Local. ICA Annual Conference. Prague, Czech Republic: International Communication Association.
Polson, E. (2017). "Do You Do Local?" Place-Based Travel Apps and the Exotification of Everyday Life. GeoMedia 2017. Karlstad, Sweden: Department of Geography and Communication, Karlstad University.


  • Honorable Mention: IAMCR Urban Communication Award , IAMCR
  • Dean's Award for Excellence (DAFE), $5000, CAHSS