The 6th Annual PhD Conference at the Institute of Communications Studies - University of Leeds
Convergence, Engagement and Power: Digital Convergence and the Challenge to Global Hegemony.
24 May 2012
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Natalie Fenton (Goldsmiths University) & Stephen Coleman (University of Leeds)
Call for Papers
From Iran to China, Cairo to Oakland, Chechnya to Tunisia, bold claims are being made about the role that new technologies are playing in the emergence, sustenance, and viability of populist political movements. Empowered by the prosthesis of technical devices, the '99%' appear to have bypassed the monopoly of the mass media through the creation and sustenance of alternative media channels, disseminating information, ideas and political expression unhindered. As such, a question must be asked; how is the authority, legitimacy, and hegemony of the ruling elite being threatened by convergent media?
Focusing deeper on the role of technology, these events are often mediated by popular social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These interactive platforms have permeated every aspect of day-to-day life, but questions remain as to the role they play in building and sustaining a true democratic discourse. The innovation of these technologies originates in a global hegemonic system which retains their ultimate ownership through existing corporate and financial systems. On the world stage, Western governments pour praise on so-called technologically mediated movements like the ‘Arab Spring’, yet domestically the same leaders oppress similar political collectives such as the Occupy movement.
In addition to the political and technological dimensions, there is a multifaceted and multi-layered convergence at play which is influencing the ways existing media forms are produced. Consumers have now become producers, and traditional cultural industries now share space with user-created digital domains of production. Has the notion of convergence reinvigorated the cultural industries by making the production process more democratic, or is it undermining their hegemony over the media we consume?
Optimistic expectations and pessimistic disdain are polarizing the debate within academia, hence these issues beg for critical questioning; to what extent are publics, through their engagement with new technology and convergent media, influencing or challenging political, corporate, and social power structures within society? Once the issues are laid bare to analysis, is the global hegemonic landscape really changing in the digital age?
In light of these technological, cultural, social and political events, we invite research students from any related discipline to submit their papers to the 6th Annual PhD Conference at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.
This international conference aims at fostering debate among graduate students by bringing together those researching areas related to media convergence in a formal conference environment, to critically engage with this exciting topic while also gaining the chance to hear from leading keynote speakers in the area of political communication.
Submissions related (but not limited) to the following questions are warmly welcomed:
To what extent has media convergence changed the concept or perception of political and/or economic power?
- Who now holds power?
- To what extent is information or knowledge a commodity of power?
In what ways are social structures changing?
- Is technological change facilitating social change?
- How are the current dimensions of power organised (e.g. horizontal, vertical, or rhizomatic)
- Are there emerging dimensions of power facilitated by new media?
Is there a relationship between convergence and culture?
- How does convergence relate to cultural identity?
- Will the next war be ‘cultural’?
- Is convergence ethnocentric/anthropocentric? Is it creating a new unseen digital divide?
How does media convergence affect power structures?
- The notion of ‘bottom up versus top down’; is a reassessment now needed?
- When convergence occurs, who balances power?
- Has the power balance between human and technology changed?
- Who owns - or who should own - symbolic texts in new media?
Please email a 300 word abstract plus institutional affiliation and short bio to the following email address by February 28, 2011 (earlier submissions welcome!)
Review of Abstracts and Papers:
Abstracts and papers are submitted to peer-review.
Author Notification of Abstracts accepted
Full Paper Submission
About the venue:
The Institute of Communications Studies is an internationally renowned centre for teaching and research in communications, media and culture. Our research is multidisciplinary and we have particular strengths in the areas of cultural industries, international communication and political communication.
The study of communication and media at the University of Leeds has its origins in the Centre for Television Research, established in the late 1950s and led from 1963 to 1989 by Professor Jay Blumler. With the Centre, the University of Leeds was one of the first to embark on the academic study of communication in Europe and one of the very few universities to undertake serious research on contemporary media at that time.
ICS is now one of the largest departments of its kind in Europe, currently offering a number of undergraduate degrees, postgraduate taught degrees and a postgraduate research programme.
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