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[ecrea] Call for Papers for the Second Issue of the journal Communication and Culture Review published by Pondicherry University, India

Sun Oct 14 13:07:27 GMT 2018

Theme of the Second Issue: Researching Political Communication and Citizenship in the Digital Age

Digital media enable individuals to share knowledge, experiences, opinions, and ideas among each other. The means of participation that social media afford has significantly enhanced democratic ideals by way of allowing citizens to articulate their voices impacting political structures. Globally, an estimated 2.5 billion people use social networks on a daily basis. With their tremendous growth, social media have become an indispensable space modern political campaigning leverages for propaganda. It has created new ways of mobilizing public opinion and inspiring participation in political and civic activities. While public addresses by politicians mobilise citizens as a collective around a specific location, the networked architecture of the digital space produces congeries of fragmented yet networked collectives across varied spatio-temporal dimensions uniting on issue-based political ideologies.

Politicians have begun to appropriate these media spaces as it is easy to govern the target audiences by calibrating and crafting propaganda messages through quantitative metrics. The abundance of digital tools has ensured that citizens as data bodies could be tracked, measured, quantified and reached more effectively. The rise of algorithms, what Napoli (2014) identifies as 'algorithmic turn', inflects political communication altering the situated practices of poll campaigning into a public relations endeavour. For instance, the use of bots to facilitate interaction between candidates and citizens instantiates the fusion of human and nonhuman agents posing critical questions to understanding the domain of political communication.

Further, platforms like Facebook and Twitter enable candidates to directly reach out to voters, mobilize supporters, and influence the public agenda. These fundamental changes in political communication therefore present election candidates with a widened range of strategic choices. Over the last decade, changes in the communication environment due to innovations in digital technologies (Castells, 2009; Chadwick, 2014), which themselves accompanied a process of modernisation and professionalisation of electoral competition have forced political parties to adopt and integrate in their campaigns increasingly sophisticated digital communication practices. Although academic research on digital media campaigning has flourished in the past several years, the scenario is still unclear and deeper insights are necessary to understand how political communication is shaped by digital media. Research has extensively documented the integration of new media tools, and Twitter and Facebook specifically, in election campaigns held in Western democracies (see Gibson, 2013; Jungherr, 2015), whereas the underpinnings of digital technologies in elections could be captured quite profoundly in the Indian and other democracies.

Researchers have an important opportunity to contribute to theory-building and revisit underlying key questions such as: How has social media and other forms of digital media use by political candidates evolved over time? Is there any conclusive evidence that politicians’ use of these tools increases their favourability or strengthens citizen engagement? What are the key factors that may mitigate the effects of social media on voters? Do these effects hold true in different contexts and for different platforms? Most importantly, does stronger reliance on social media/digital media motivate voters to retain higher levels of political knowledge or political participation, and if so, what are the underlying mechanisms?

Given the evolution of social media/digital media use over time and their growing importance for political communication, this issue of Communication and Culture Review seeks empirical research articles as well as theoretical reviews that will strengthen and add to the knowledge base of political communication literature. Combining a number of articles under this research umbrella could lead to important theoretical and methodological contributions, and also bridge several disciplinary domains including journalism, mass communication, new media, sociology and political science.

The forthcoming issue welcomes papers on topics including but not limited to:

Digital media/social media and democracy
Digital media/social media and citizen participation
Digital media/social media and the (im)possibility of public sphere
Algorithms and political communication
Factors impacting poll campaigning strategies in the digital age
New media technologies and their effects on socio-political matters
Articulation and shaping of ideologies by political parties through digital media
Memes as visual tools for activism and propaganda in modern politics
Platforms, algorithms and their role in shaping public attention
Democratic subjectivity and the politics of digital space
Subaltern voices and political participation in digital media

Castells, M. (2013). Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chadwick, A. (2017). The hybrid media system: Politics and power. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Gibson, R. K. (2013). Party change, social media and the rise of ‘citizen-initiated’ campaigning. Party Politics, 21(2), 183-197. Jungherr, A. (2015). E-campaigning in Germany: A net revolution? Essex: Routledge. Napoli, P. M. (2014). Automated media: An institutional theory perspective on algorithmic media production and consumption. Communication Theory 24(3), 340-360.

Important dates

Full Paper submission: January 3, 2019 (Full paper should not exceed 8000 words)
Notification of selected papers for peer review: January, 15, 2019
Intimation of final acceptance/correction/rejection: March 5, 2019
Publication of the issue: March 30, 2019

M. Shuaib Mohamed Haneef, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Head i/c
Department of Electronic Media and Mass Communication
Pondicherry University
Puducherry, India - 605014
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