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[Commlist] CFP - Re-connecting voices in the framework of open government. The strategic role of public sector communication

Tue Aug 27 14:08:00 GMT 2019

Call for paper
PACO - Special Issue– N.2, 2020

“Re-connecting voices in the framework of open government.
The strategic role of public sector communication”

Guest Editors

Alessandro Lovari (University of Cagliari, Italy)
Lucia D’Ambrosi (University of Macerata, Italy)
Shannon A. Bowen (University of South Carolina, U.S.)

Call for paper
The overall goal of this special issue is to investigate the strategic role of public sector communication (Canel, 2012; Canel & Luoma-aho, 2018; Faccioli, 2000) to re-connect voices in the framework of open government (Lathrop & Ruma, 2010). In contemporary society, characterized by a growing sense of distrust in institutions (Edelman, 2018; Rosanvallon & Goldhammer, 2008) and by the impact of digital technologies and social media, different actors are enabled to raise their voices to contribute to policies and public debate, to create and to delivery of public services, but also to protest or obstruct government actions (Bennett & Segerberg, 2012; Coleman & Shane, 2011). This plurality of voices is not only spread and made visible via the Internet and the social web, but also portrayed in media coverage, and integrated throughout public sector communication strategies and initiatives. Re-connecting voices means intentionally and strategically aiming at creating flows, platforms and environments where these voices can meet, fertilize and face each other, enabling participation and innovative digital communication practices, fostering civic engagement or revitalizing forms of democracy. Some scholars refer to this area of communication as instilling symmetry or dialogical feedback loops (Grunig, 2000). In this context, public sector communication can have a strategic role to manage voices and relations with citizens, media, and collectivity (Bartoletti & Faccioli, 2016; Harisson & Wessels, 2013). The use of social media platforms in the institutional communication mix has deeply transformed and rearticulated these relationships and practices (Lovari & Valentini, 2019; Haro-de-Rosario et al., 2018; Warren et al., 2014). The participatory potential of every citizen/user is constantly increasing, so as the opportunities of inclusion and listening of digital and traditional publics for public administrations are wider and often unexplored (Bowen 2013; Massoli & D’Ambrosi, 2014). Nowadays, social media represent one of the most important areas to experiment and improve new forms and practices of public sector communication (Dahlgren, 2009; Kent, 2013; Ducci, 2015). The special issue aims at investigating the plurality of voices and the re-articulation of communication strategies and practices around open government. The issue will critically reflect the strategic role of public sector communication in building an open government approach, considering the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enable innovative processes and/or to influence citizens’ behaviors in order to achieve specific policy objectives (Capano & Pavan, 2018). In this prospective, open government is investigated also in respect to contexts in which data are produced and disseminated, in order to ensure the effective voices from citizens to be integrated in public policies (Harris &Fleisher, 2017). At the same time, this increased transparency and citizens’ participation could foster digital surveillance. The production of communication enabled by digital platforms makes everything more transparent and controlled, evolving in a digital panopticon in which everyone can be observed and controlled. Surveillance of digital publics, data collection and their manipulation are related problems, and they represent an ethical challenge for public sector organizations and threats for citizens (Lyon, 2018; Zavattaro & Sementelli, 2014). Moreover, the special issue will focus on how different voices intertwine or conflict in a hybrid, fragmented and corporatized media system characterized by the increasing spreading of problematic information. From one side, the public sector voice will be taken into consideration, focusing on offline and digital communication implemented by public organizations, investigating ethical, sociological, and political implications. Many questions arise in this context. What are the ethical responsibilities of public sector organizations with regard to citizen engagement? Are public sector organizations prepared to face these challenges? With trust in government at an all-time low, communication can represent a key to building open and accessible discourse, as well as helping to make government both responsible and reflexive? How do public sector communicators can give visibility to citizen voices? What are the skills required to address the challenges? On the other side, this special issue will focus on citizens’ voices, investigating grassroots communication practices and dynamics of participation in conventional or protest-oriented ways. For instance: how do citizens’ voices engage (or disengage) with governmental and public sector organizations? How do citizens perceive public sector organizations’ communications? What are the effects produced and enabled by open government’s initiatives in different countries? What are the threats of adopting an open government approach in citizens’ perception? What measures should be taken with regard to information, privacy, and the ethical responsibilities of the public sector with digitally-collected information? Furthermore, other voices, such as NGOs, non-profit associations, and news media, will be taken in consideration for the special issue.

Articles, employing different theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches, should explore one or more of the following thematic areas: • The evolution of public sector communication models and strategies in the open government framework; • The value and the role of public sector communication in the participatory processes; • Strategic communication practices for listening and engaging with citizens’ voices;
•	Social media as enabling platforms for trust and participation;
• Rhetoric of technological innovation, misalignments between public sector communication’s strategies and policies, and citizens’ expectations and needs; • Civic hacking practices, between dissent and proactive communication behaviors;
•	Media representation of open government’s value and practices;
•	Unheard voices and grassroots communication practices;
• The ethical responsibilities of public sector communication, often in relation to data and privacy in the digital realm.

•	Submission of Long Abstracts: 10th November 2019
•	Submission of Full Articles: 10th March 2020
•	Provision of peer reviewed feedback: 15st May 2020
•	Submission of revised accepted articles: 19th June  2020
•	Publication of the Special issue: 15th July  2020

Articles should be no longer than 10,000 words, including notes and references. A maximum of 10 articles will be published.
Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at

Abstracts must be sufficiently detailed to allow the PACO editorial board to judge the merits of the paper, including:

(1) A description of the topic,
(2) The theoretical framework,
(3) Empirical data, time frame and research methods,
(4) Findings.
Abstracts lacking these information will be immediately rejected.

Please address any queries to the Editors
Proposals and papers have to be sent to the guest editors:
(lucia.dambrosi /at/
(alessandro.lovari /at/

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