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[ecrea] Call for papers Seminar Gender and controversies online Lyon 2016 ELICO

Thu Jul 23 02:37:55 GMT 2015

Call for papers

Seminar Gender and controversies online

January - June 2016 / Lyon (France)



Gender, as a theoretical tool which challenges the idea of  “sex
differences” and raises awareness on gender-based discriminations, is
being debated, discussed, and subjected to several conflicts of
definition, which also embrace whom is entitled to define the concept
and which themes are covered by it. The concept of gender, as well as
gender-related theory, have been controversial for a long time. This
polemic is linked to the ancient controversy around “sex differences”.
Therefore, the study of gender in the public sphere has to take into
consideration present polemics and previous controversies.

This seminar takes place within the context of current research on data
science applied to online controversies and the online public sphere. In
which ways do digital devices heighten the controversies? How do they
allow the researchers to observe new polemical relations? Does the
amount of online discursive data allow the observation of different
gender/ed interactions?

The specific type of interactions developed within the online public
sphere (digital identities and communication patterns) tend to lead to
polemical uses (smear campaigns, thematic hashtags…) but also
paradoxically to dilute political stakes and critical charge of feminist

The goal and stake of this seminar are to understand in which way
specific online modes of interaction (pseudonymity, short temporality,
“cascade effect”) may contribute to gender-related polemics, to the
conflict of definition around the concept of gender, but also to the
erosion of the concept’s critical edge. Online public sphere is often
compared to places where opinions are being confronted, but it rather
supports “debates by dissociation”, debates in which divergent opinions
grow in a parallel way instead of  really confronting each other.  This
leads to the outcome of high-magnitude debates, debates in which the
original confrontation of ideas is diluted in a multitude of
micro-debates fed by a vast number of contributors.

Studying the discourse on gender in different instances allows to
capture issues related to the sociology of networks, to social and
linguistic conservatisms, to the disaffection of some part of the public
for certain media and the development - or the obsolescence - of certain
discursive practices. In this perspective, we will take into account
proposals about gender-related issues and their comments on the online
versions of mainstream media, on pure players, on social networks, on
feminist blogs and forums as well as on media and blogs focusing on the
theme of "gender theory" to confront it.

The analysis of the anchor points of definitions that are emerging in
the digital space, by articulating explicit and implicit dimensions,
allows to understand how the discourse on gender remains unstable : it
can renew itself while continuing to convey traditional representations.

One goal of this seminar is to strengthen dialogue and collaboration
between researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds (communication
and medias studies, law, linguistics, political science, sociology,
computer science...), to connect the methods and knowledge of
controversies in digital spaces - while underlining the specificity of
these digital spaces and device in the light of political controversy
and polemics that update and feed it by impacting the social body.

Indeed, the different methods of discourse analysis, as well as computer
science, media sociology, semiotics, are all possible approaches to
seize how this controversy is deployed and reconfigured in various
digital spaces and device.

These approaches are also all confronted to the labile unsteady and
polymorphous dimension of discourses that are involved in gender
controversies, as well as their polyphony. This seminar not only aims to
sustain dialogue between researchers on gender and controversies, online
public sphere and opinion mining, but also offers more visibility to new
collaborations and emerging researches, by contributing to a collective
publication at the end of this seminar.

This seminar will be organized around four themes:

Theme 1 (January, 29th 2016) : Polyphony in the discourses about Gender
: social liberalism, Gender backlash, New Definitions, dilution

Online discourses about Gender are very polyphonic. There are at the
same time liberal talks (in spontaneous campaigns online to support the
victims of discriminations), conservative backlashes (demonstrations
against gay wedding, lad culture), and the diminution of feminist
criticism (Pop feminism). Analysing this kind of contents, we would like
to adopt a perspective inspired by Cultural Studies to study the
representations at stake and the movement of those issues - in spheres
different than from institutions or activists. How the digital spaces
could be a pace for the raising of new forms of discourse on gender.

Theme 2 (March, 11th 2016) : Cyberbullying and prevention

Since online violence (symbolic and verbal) has its specificities,
scholar investigate gender-based violence through the analysis of
cyberbullying. Online violence affects particularly women and sexual
minorities : harassment, slander, revenge porn, homophobic slurs,
disclosure of sexually explicit pictures without consent, geolocation
and monitoring... How does cyberbullying replicate on a larger scale the
traditional forms of gender violence, how is it different? Could it be
possible to use digital devices to raise awareness about gender-based
violence and prevent it.

Theme 3 (April, 1st 2016) : A quantitative analysis of Gender
representation in digital spaces ?

Gender could be a very relevant issue to analyse the conflicts in
definition and to measure, in a quantitative and qualitative ways, the
stereotypes and social roles. This theme aims to confront statistical
approaches on complex and big data. How can such approaches be adapted
to an algorithmic approach? How do they depend on a preliminary
qualitative study, in order to determine the categories of analysis? Is
it really possible to « measure » Gender online ?

Theme 4 (May, 27th, 2016) : Feminism and antifeminism online

In this session, we want to study more structured uses of digital
spaces, specifically from activists and / or institutions. Online media
provide an efficient sphere for activists speeches (feminists,
anti-feminists, masculinists, conservative religious groups)  to seem
more structured and focused for Government actions for women to be more
visible. What are feminist and antifeminist strategies to enter digital
spaces ? In which way do the analysis of digital activism tools and
devices allow us to analyse the structure of the controversy about Gender ?

Submission details  :

The seminar Gender and controversies on line revolves around four
sessions between January and June 2016. It takes the form of conferences
on four days with one invited speaker per thematic session. Ther
presentations wil be French and  in English (a simultaneous translation
will be set). In addition to these speakers, we wish to open this
seminar to other point of views.

Submission deadline : september 15th, 2015.

Paper format : an abstract of no more than 450 words (bibliography
included) + a short bio-bibliographie (200-250 words) + the preference
for one of the four themes.

Submissions are welcomed from all disciplines, and we would particularly
encourage PhD students and early career researchers to apply.

There are no other requirements with regard to the format.

Papers must be uploaded on an EasyChair platform :


Scientific committee (in progress)


Aurélie Olivesi (ELICO)

Isabelle Hare (ELICO)

Stéphanie Kunert (ELICO)

For any question or for further information, please mail us :

aurElie.olivesi[at] <>

isabelle.hare[at] <>

Stephanie.Kunert[at] <>.


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