Contemporary collective action, social movements, civic and political protests are characterized by a growing complexity of actors, contents, repertories, contexts, and effects. Grappling with the implications of late modernity, scholars worldwide have reflected on the cross-fertilization of individual practices and collective mobilizations. They have foregrounded unconventional forms of engagement, through reflexive, expressive and embodied acts of dissent cutting across the cultural, political, and social domains, in persistent as well as increasingly transient modes of organisation and belonging. Within this field, some accounts graft social media as an independent variable that would mitigate the democratic deficits of mass-mediated and institutionalised politics. Others would warn of the power imbalances and the inequalities in participation particularly social media reinforce or heighten.
Seeking to kindle an imagination that situates social media in lived experience and practice, this conference intends to unpick the history and the present of linkages but also of any signs of a conscious uncoupling of network technologies, broadcasting media and physical places where protest participation is enacted. In doing so, we aim to tackle the significant challenges posed to democratic politics, social theory and research by resultant variable communication ecologies.
The organizers invite theoretical reflections and empirical analyses tracking continuities and changes in protest participation arising in the blurred lines between social media, broadcasting media and physical places. In particular, the conference welcomes contributions that address the following questions:
- What forms of civic/uncivic protest participation are (de)activated in contemporary communication ecologies?
- What are the effects of these different forms of participation on institutional politics, political culture, civic education, collective identities and the media?
- Which structural – both societal and technological – elements of contemporary communication ecologies enable, accentuate or discourage protest participation?
- Which type of content converges and is hybridized in the practices of protest participants, of protest-covering media or of the organizations that are targets of protest?
- Which forms of exclusion are being overcome or heightened in the communication ecologies where protest participation is instantiated?
- What are the conceptual challenges ahead of us? As we query communication ecologies, do concepts old and new, e.g. “mediatization”, “convergence”, “remediation”, “boundary publics”, “connective action” continue to be analytically informing for mapping the nature and meaning of participation in protest as well as in the civic life beyond it?
- Which methodological obstacles arise for research oriented towards analysing protest participation in variable communication ecologies? And how do we overcome them?
Proposals will be reviewed by the scientific committee on a rolling basis. The final deadline for submission is 30th January 2015. Without compromising scientific standards, the Conference aims for a wide geographical representation of scientists. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out at the earliest opportunity and no later than March 2015.
Camera-ready papers are expected one month ahead of the conference. Manuscripts should be 7-8,000 words in length (including references). Manuscripts will be distributed among conference guests.
Conference Registration for presenters will be possible upon confirmation of acceptance. Registration will close on 30 April 2015.
The Final Programme will be published in May 2015.
Following the Conference, participants will be invited to submit a revised version of theirpapers for consideration by the journal iCS – Information, Communication & Society which will dedicate a special issue to the conference proceedings. More information about making a submission to the iCS is available on the journal website. At that time, contributions will also be selected for an edited collection.