Political Communication Division PhD Student Preconference

Abstract submission deadline: 1 February 2017 (750 words max.)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 9:00 – 17:00
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Peter Van Aelst (U of Antwerp), in collaboration with Kimberly Gross (George Washington U), Thomas Zerback (LMU Munich), Sebastian Valenzuela (Pontifical Catholic U of Chile), and Claes de Vreese (U of Amsterdam)

View Call for Papers

What will your preconference be about?

This preconference is about YOU. There is no common subject, the starting point is your PhD research project.

Why should we have this conference?

This preconference contributes to building a new generation of political communication scholars. You improve your work, You learn about academia, You meet new people.

What do you envision to come from your preconference?

This preconference helps to build international networks of young scholars that share the same interests and are willing to cooperate.

Don’t believe me? Ask someone who participated before! Here are a few testimonials from PhD students from the last edition in 2015.

“The pre-conference was super helpful for me in two ways. First, the advice I got on my project and for my future as an academic has been important. Second, the small setting meant that I got to know the participants well. In fact, every ICA I re-connect with the other students who were part of my cohort, and our diverse group is an awesome support system as we embark on our careers.”
Shannon McGregor (U of Texas)

“I will always fondly remember the political communication preconference for graduate students. It was a valuable experience during my PhD life. I not only received vital feedback on my PhD thesis from great peers, but I also met terrific PhD students from all around the world with whom I still keep in touch. Meeting them at conferences is always fun.”
Christiane Grill (U of Vienna)

“As a first-time ICA conference attendee, the Political Communication preconference provided the perfect setting for connecting with fellow young scholars and getting helpful feedback and tips for my project and the academic world in general. Definitely the best way to kick-off an ICA conference as a PhD student within this field!”
Kim Andersen (U of Southern Denmark)

“I really enjoyed my participation in the PhD Preconference. It provided me with an extensive introduction to academia in general and the field of political communication in particular. Moreover, presenting and discussing work with peers in a supportive environment enabled me to improve my own work whilst getting inspired by the research of others. The preconference’s schedule ensured that enough time was reserved for constructive feedback on each contributor his or her work. All in all, I can highly recommend the PhD preconference of Political Communication!”
Michael Hameleers (U of Amsterdam)

Populism, Post-Truth Politics and Participatory Culture: Interventions in the Intersection of Popular and Political Communication

Abstract submission deadline (extended!): 20 January 2017 (800 words max.)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 9:00 – 17:45
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Cornel Sandvoss (U of Huddersfield) and Stephen Harrington (Queensland U of Technology)

View Call for Papers

What will your preconference be about? 

From the Donald Trump’s shock victory in the US presidential election to the successful BREXIT campaign, via the rise of far right Freedom Party in Austria and the Front National in France, to the emergence of new Left movements across Southern Europe or Corbynism in the UK, we witness dramatic and rapid transformations to the substance of political discourse and decision making across Europe, North America and beyond. This preconference draws on the rich body of work in the study of new political formations, political campaigning, the eroding boundaries between political and popular communication and between popular entertainment and popular and populist politics to provide a forum for the presentation of current research on the rapid rise of political populism, political movements and ‘post-truth politics’ in 2016 in different national and international contexts, and thus aims to provide comparative perspectives on transformations of political discourse, participation and electoral behaviour.

The rise of new political movements and campaigns, including but not limited to the rise of far-right populism, are distinctly multi-factorial. In exploring the premises and consequences of this rise we distinguish between media intrinsic and extrinsic factors. While the preconference will focus on media intrinsic factors that are closely associated with changes in political discourse as a result of a.) technological change including processes of digitisation and media convergence, b.) transformations of media ownership and (broadcast) market deregulation and c.) the proliferation of forms participation and textual production among media users and audiences, it also acknowledges the wider economic, social, cultural and political factors that have informed and driven these transformations.  We invite contribution to a range of related fields of research including:

  • Infotainment and political discourse
  • Citizen journalism and political participation
  • The crisis of political journalism
  • The role of comedy and other entertainment in political discourse
  • Media, politics and trust
  • Social movements, protest and digital media
  • Social media and the public sphere
  • Media ownership and power
  • Fans of politics and political campaigns and movements as fan cultures
  • Political discourse, Othering and anti-fandom
  • The affective and emotional qualities of political support and voting
  • Political campaigning and restyling of politics

Participants are invited to examine a range of associated cases and phenomena from across the world, including, but not limited to:

  • Far right populism including the Tea Party, Donald Trump, Brexit, Fidesz, Front National and the FPÖ.
  • Movements against neo-liberalism and austerity including Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, Syriza, Podemos and Momentum.
  • Forms of civic action and political interventions by media users and audiences across the political spectrum as well as within realms of entertainment.

Why should we have this conference? Why is the topic covered and/or approach taken by your preconference (a) timely and (b) relevant? Why should people submit their work or plan to attend?

We are stating the painfully obvious here: Trump, Brexit, and other far right electoral victories in particular mark not only a challenge to the nature of political discourse and indirect democracies but also carry profound social, cultural and economic threats. Communication, media, cultural and journalism studies have a key role to play in the analysis of the transformations of political communication that have facilitated the emergence of post-truth politics and populism and, crucially, in formulating meaningful and effective responses – as conference organisers we hope many ICA members will join us in this effort. Proposals for contributions to the preconference should be submitted online at https://goo.gl/FcdSjZ. For any further questions on the submission process please contact Cornel Sandvoss at c.sandvoss@hud.ac.uk. The proposal submission deadline is midnight (GMT) on 20th January 2017.

What do you envision to come from your preconference: In which direction do you expect it to pull political communication scholarship? Does is it aim at fueling new collaboration and/or a specific kind of research?

The preconference will foster a dialogue between scholars working within different conceptual and methodological traditions in order to advance interdisciplinary debates and approaches to the study of contemporary popular and populist politics; building on this analysis the preconference will conclude with reflections on how this analysis can and ought to translate into interventions on behalf of communication scholars in the political process and its communicative infrastructure. We will also be dedicated time to international networks and funding opportunities.

Reflecting the broad scope and interdisciplinary nature of the phenomena under investigation, we invite submissions to any of the above themes and topics in the following formats: full research papers, position papers, panels and mediated/alternative submission formats.

Normative Theory in Communication Research

Abstract submission deadline: 15 January 2017 (4,000 characters max.)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 9:00 – 17:45
Where: U of California, San Diego, CA
Organizers: C.W. Anderson (City U of New York), David Karpf (George Washington U), Daniel Kreiss (U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Oxford U), and Matthew Powers (U of Washington)

View Call for Papers

In this preconference, we seek to bring communication scholars together to spark a conversation on the normative foundations of scholarship and move the field towards more explicit discussions about the relationship between communication and democracy. 

What will your preconference be about?

This preconference examines the role of normative theories in communication research. Normative theories concern the ideal functions of government, media and public communication. The premise of this preconference is that such theories rarely receive explicit treatment in communication scholarship. Often, researchers simply imply their normative standpoints through the research questions they ask about “participation,” “civility,” “two-sided information flows,’ ‘knowledgeable citizens,’ ‘rational debate and deliberation,’ ‘polarization and partisanship,’ ‘interactivity,’ and ‘quality information.’ In bringing together scholars from a range of normative traditions, this preconference aims to make democracy and normative theories a central object of analysis for communication scholarship. 

Why should we have this conference? 

When communication scholars explicitly discuss their normative models of democracy, they tend to be deliberative, following the guiding theorist of the field, Jürgen Habermas, and rich veins of deliberative research work by scholars such as James Fishkin. More common, however, is research that implicitly holds up rational debate among disinterested, non-partisan citizens premised on quality information as the normative ideal. Meanwhile, when scholars do not explicitly embrace deliberation, they tend to hold up an ill-defined, procedural idea of participation as the ultimate democratic value, often without any consideration of the ends towards which it is directed.

While deliberative theory and vague ideas of participation continue to hold significant appeal in communication research, we suggest that they are not–and need not be–the only models. In the past two decades there has been a tremendous flowering of normative work in other fields that casts new light on democracy itself. Social movement scholars have argued forcefully for the importance of contentious politics, emotion, identity, and culture to the practice and promise of democracy. Sociologists have argued that ‘civility’ often serves to cut-off critique and frankness should be valued as an alternative. Political theorists have embraced the normative importance of spectatorship in contrast to deliberation and participation, invoking communication research around media events. Others have worked to reclaim the value of partisanship in an era of extremist, single-issue civil society organizations. Meanwhile, some scholars have sought to re-establish the value of representation, while others have argued strongly for the value of agonism as the proper domain of the political. We hope that this preconference can spark conversation about the normative foundations of communication research.

What do you envision to come from this preconference?

We are hoping for submissions that interrogate the democratic foundations of communication research across its various subfields. These can include articles on the history of normative models of democracy in the field, original theoretical papers that propose democratic frameworks or synthesize work in adjacent fields, or empirical papers that make a significant theoretical contribution to democratic theory in the field of communication. We hope that the conversations from the preconference will reinvigorate discussions about normative theories in communication scholarship.

Media Performance and Democracy – The Debate Continues

Abstract submission deadline (EXTENDED!): 31 January 2017 (500 words max.)
When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 10:00 – 17:00
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Josef Seethaler (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Linards Udris (U of Zurich)
Keynote speakers: Gianpietro Mazzoleni (U of Milan) and Silvia Pellegrini (Pontifical Catholic U of Chile)

View Call for Papers

What will your preconference be about?

The preconference will focus on media performance and its link to democracy from a variety of perspectives. First, it takes into account that the measurement and evaluation of media performance depends on the model of democracy so we want to put special emphasis on the various normative foundations scholars on media performance use. Second, the preconference encourages scholars from all over the world to share their perspectives, regardless of the state of democracy in their countries. Third, we will discuss whether scholars should use an etic, more “universal” approach in evaluating media performance or an emic, more culture-specific approach. Apart from linking this question to the different normative models, the etic/emic question also deals with how to evaluate media performance for different types of media. For instance, we welcome contributions that analyze whether all kinds of social and “alternative” media call for a different evaluation of media performance than for mainstream “legacy” media. Fourth, we should not forget that the analysis of media performance should not be restricted to descriptive content analyses of what the media offer. Rather, we welcome debates about the levels on which scholars should analyze quality, for instance on the level of media system structures, media policy, organizational standards, or quality perceptions of the audience.

Why should we have this conference? Why is the topic covered and/or approach taken by your preconference (a) timely and (b) relevant? Why should people submit their work or plan to attend?

As our keynote speaker Gianpietro Mazzoleni (U of Milan) will argue, the preconference comes at an important time for us as political communication researchers. The issue of media performance is highly relevant because in a lot of countries, not only is trust in the media eroding but trust in the democratic institutions is also generally on the wane. There is an ongoing debate on whether this is a result of legacy media actually performing “worse” than before (for whatever reason) or whether this is a result of (populist) political actors using “alternative” media strategically to exploit grievances, just to name a few reasons.

Furthermore, we believe it is very relevant to discuss the general theme of the San Diego conference, meaning how researchers can make “communication interventions” in public. To underline this, we invited Silvia Pellegrini (Pontifical Catholic U of Chile) as one of our keynote speakers. Working on a large-scale project on media performance in Chile that has been going on for more than two decades and been in the spotlight, Silvia can share invaluable experience on the role of the researcher in publicly discussing and fostering media performance. We are sure that a lot of colleagues have conducted similar work (albeit not on such a large scale) and published policy-oriented research, and we really welcome their submissions reflecting on this.

What do you envision to come from your preconference: In which direction do you expect it to pull political communication scholarship? Does is it aim at fueling new collaboration and/or a specific kind of research?

One of our main goals is to bring scholars together that contribute to the debate about media performance and thus ultimately the normative underpinnings of our research. Of course, political communication researchers always rely on normative assumptions but we think these assumptions should be made more explicit to stimulate more profound discussions. Also, scholars in several countries have been conducting projects on media performance in single countries, producing lots of data and experience which now could be used for comparative purposes. Having ourselves conducted large-scale studies on media performance in Austria and Switzerland, respectively, we, the preconference organizers, are looking forward to these submissions, which eventually should strengthen international collaboration. With our preconference, we also want to bring in more practically oriented researchers, also from outside academia, in order to bridge the theory-practice gap and to exchange innovative ideas to further development of research on democratic media performance.

Online and Newsworthy: Have Digital Sources Changed Journalism?

Abstract submission deadline: 1 February 2017 (500 words max.)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 8:30 – 13:00 (half-day)
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Sophie Lecheler (U of Vienna), Sanne Kruikemeier (U of Amsterdam), Sarah Van Leuven (Ghent U), and Liesbeth Hermans (Radboud U)

View Call for Papers

What will your preconference be about?

We want to know to what extent the digital revolution has changed how journalists approach and use sources during the news production process. To do so, we invite scholars from both political communication as well as journalism studies or other related disciplines to showcase their original research focusing on one of four aspects of online sourcing in journalism. First, we ask which online sources are most prominent within news reporting, and/or whether they have replaced more traditional sourcing techniques? Second, we want to show research that asks why and how journalists use online sources during their daily work and in the newsroom. Third, we want to focus on the consequences of online sourcing for audience perceptions of journalism, for example in terms of the credibility of news and journalism. Fourth, we aim to investigate potential changes in the relationship between journalists and elite actors as sources, who now have multiple options to communicate with audiences directly. 

Why should we have this conference? Why is the topic covered and/or approach taken by your preconference (a) timely and (b) relevant? Why should people submit their work or plan to attend?

The use of reliable sources is one of the most important aspects of journalistic news production. However, when making news, journalists now increasingly use social media, websites, wikis, and online encyclopaedias as sources. In today’s 24/7 news cycles, online sources offer a quick, convenient, cheap, and effective way for journalists to gather information on developing stories, and they increasingly also trigger news stories. But, what are the consequences of online sourcing for the quality of news and the journalistic profession? Can all online sources be reliably verified? Do online sources change the power relationship between political actors and journalists?

A comprehensive answer to these (and other related) questions is pressing within the field of political communication and beyond. If the journalism-source relationship has changed, then this may have important consequences for the quality of political information citizens receive on a daily basis. In a time of political change, good and reliable news has become ever more important.

The preconference is also a place for interdisciplinary exchange. Journalistic sourcing is studied in political communication, but also in journalism studies and other sub disciplines.

What do you envision to come from your preconference: In which direction do you expect it to pull political communication scholarship? Does is it aim at fueling new collaboration and/or a specific kind of research?

This preconference aims at fueling new collaborations between scholars working in different sub disciplines. Therefore, we welcome both theoretical and empirical papers for the preconference, and want to encourage PhD students and young researchers to submit. As mentioned above, we also aim to bring together both qualitative and quantitative researchers, ranging from methods such as ethnographic research, interviewing, to content analysis, big data, survey and experimental designs. We encourage the use of different theoretical approaches to understand online journalistic sourcing techniques (e.g., framing, journalistic role perceptions, storytelling, conceptions of the newsroom). We also hope to inspire participating scholars to form working relationships that may lead to applications for future collaborative funding or a special issue within a related journal.

Political Communication in the Online World: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Perspectives

Abstract submission deadline: n/a (no Call for Papers)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 9:00 – 17:00
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Gerhard Vowe (Heinrich Heine U of Düsseldorf), Barbara Pfetsch (Free U of Berlin) Patrick Rössler (U of Erfurt)
Keynote speaker: Eszter Hargittai (U of Zurich)

View Full Program

What will your preconference be about?

The preconference is intended to be a forum for drawing a conclusion: How has political communication changed in the wake of the diffusion of online media? What are the politically relevant consequences of this diffusion? Which progress has research made to describe and explain the changes of political communication? This conclusion will form the basis for an outlook on how future research can investigate changes of political communication. There are three relevant aspects of the conclusion and outlook:

  • Conclusion and outlook with respect to empirical research. The present state of knowledge for all components of the processes of political communication will be depicted: Setting of issues and position by actors, distribution of media content through the interaction of traditional mass media and social media, individual and collective reception, effects on the individual level, the organizational level and the societal level.
  • Conclusion and outlook with respect to theories. How do the traditional theories of political communication research hold up in the new media environment? For example, can the theory of agenda building explain how challengers establish their issues and interpretations? Those questions will be addressed by the preconference. It will also be discussed if the changes of political communication lead to changes of policies and politics.
  • Conclusion and outlook with respect to methods. Did we succeed in using the potential of online media for the collection and analysis of data, for example by reconstructing networks of political communication? Costs and benefits of new methods will be discussed, based on the experience made in the last years of communication research. We will also look at methodological challenges that are brought along by the accelerated changes of the media environment and by fundamental innovations like individualized services in political communication.

Why should we have this conference? Why is the topic covered by your preconference (a) timely and (b) relevant? Why should people plan to attend?

The preconference topic is timely and relevant. The rapid spread of Internet-based communication poses challenges for all parts of society. Recently, several financial crises, threats posed by international terrorism, and the immigration crisis determined the global agenda. Through online communication, these crises are underlined and become more acute. Of course, dramatic social and political changes, such as increasing migration, cannot be explained by the rise of the Internet alone. However, their impact and dynamics are not conceivable without the Internet. In fact, these challenges are likely to increase – an acceleration of societal and political change is clearly observable.

Then again, the development of Internet-based communication provides us with opportunities to tackle these challenges socially and politically. Hence, the Internet is both: part of the problem and part of the solution.

Participants can expect four workshops of 90 minutes each as well as one opening and one closing presentation. The workshops consist of four brief presentations of 10-12 minutes each, and give the opportunity for detailed feedback and extensive discussion. The presenters are invited speakers from different nations. Thus, there is no call for papers.  The preconference will take place in the conference hotel of the ICA conference from 9 am to 5 pm on Mai 25th and will be organized by Patrick Rössler (University of Erfurt, Germany), Barbara Pfetsch (Free University of Berlin, Germany), and Gerhard Vowe (University of Düsseldorf, Germany). For further information see http://www.fgpk.de/ica-preconference-2017/ or contact Ole Kelm (ole.kelm@uni-duesseldorf.de).

What do you envision to come from your preconference: In which direction do you expect it to pull political communication scholarship? Does is it aim at fueling new collaboration and/or a specific kind of research?

The preconference wants to foster the relevance of online media in political communication research. Specifically, as online media are often only considered as a tool for information, the preconference aims to offer a more nuanced view of various functions of online media for political communication. New developments of established theories that are transferred and reviewed in the context of the online world will be presented. Moreover, the preconference wants to illustrate how to use methods in political communication practices that are related to online media (e.g., data mining). Finally, the Internet has questioned our standardized research methods. The contributions of the preconference want to present new and more accurate methods.