Participatory Communication Research Section - Call for Proposals

The Participatory Communication Research (PCR) Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) invites the submission of proposals for papers and panels for IAMCR 2024, which will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 30 June to 4 July 2024.

The deadline for submission is 7 February 2024, at 23h59 UTC.

See the CfPs of all sections and working groups

Theme

IAMCR conferences address many diverse topics defined by our 33 thematic sections and working groups. We also propose a single central theme to be explored throughout the conference with the aim of generating and exploring multiple perspectives. This is accomplished through plenary and special sessions, as well as in some of the sessions of the sections and working groups.

The central theme for 2024 focuses on "Whiria te tāngata / Weaving people together: Communicative projects of decolonising, engaging, and listening" - which draws upon a Maori proverb about the strength that comes through common purpose.

Consult a detailed description of the main theme

The Maori proverb Whiria te tāngata / Weaving people together, the main theme for IAMCR Christchurch 2024, deeply resonates with the essence of participatory communication, as it entails the idea of common good and common purpose conceived, built, lived, nurtured and participated by a community. As an inspiration, the action words - decolonising, engaging, and listening - also further this identification.

Therefore, the Participatory Communication Research Section is open to receive proposals within the thematic perspective of the general call that enhance the contributions of participatory communication in a diversity of fields, including (but not limited to) development and social change, activisms, politics and democracy, citizenship and consumption, climate change and sustainability, health and care, culture and arts, urban and rural, education and literacy, and the everyday. Interdisciplinarity, creativity and innovation are encouraged to challenge the general call also with specific thematic lines:

Theories, methodologies and ethics of participatory communication

Participatory Communication articulates academic approaches and intervention experiences, which come from different geopolitical contexts and from diverse perspectives. This allows and requires a constant discussion on the ways in which we understand participation and participatory communication, and the contributions we recognize. What advances in participatory methodologies and theories have been proposed and studied? What are the ethical implications? How do we position ourselves as researchers and/or practitioners? PCR Section welcomes case studies, models, and other participatory communication breakthroughs that might open new scientific horizons.

Participation and decolonization

Much is said about decolonization and thinking from the South, but the peoples of the South were already doing it before there were terms for it. We propose to recover intervention experiences and theoretical, methodological and ethical contributions on popular communication, alternative communication, communication for social change, communication for social justice, which discuss the ways in which participation is understood in these initiatives. What are the main contributions of these perspectives to the global knowledge on participatory communication? What are the common themes and practices among different traditions of thought? And what about the phenomena of neo-colonization, evident in consumption as a global narrative, but also in political discourse? How does participation interact and what role does it play in the preservation of local values and cultures?

Participation and the political sphere

Democratic institutions foster political participation which is not just limited to the right to vote. Participation within the political sphere is challenging as political activity is both personal and public with societal repercussions. In a highly mediated world, participating in political events comes with its own set of complexities. A fair and vibrant democracy encourages individuals as well as civil society groups to actively engage and contribute to the growth of society and the country at large. Even though many a time, the government has the last word, citizens actively participate in the political sphere. Participation here is not restricted to just one sphere but intersects with multiple other public and private spheres of activity. The very ideals of participatory communication acknowledge the multidisciplinary nature of individual action within a democratic system. The section invites papers on extensive practices of participation in the political sphere.

Institutions, civic engagement and participation

Participation as a practice has achieved considerable attention from scholars, agencies, organized groups, civil society groups and even governments which poses a serious threat to the fundamental concept of participation. An institutionalized idea of participation tends to be more strategic than organic. The strategizing of participatory ideals disempowers the structure and empowers the institutions thereby making the process more rigid and limiting in nature. Participation as a material idea needs critical attention as the concept is constantly evolving. Democratic institutions seem to face a crisis expressed in the alienation and absenteeism of electorates, opening ground for polarization and dark participation. Citizenship and participation in the political sphere and in the everyday are fruitful fields for reflection at PCR. Concurrently, participatory strategies have been consistently been implemented by companies, institutions and even countries in order to promote specific strategic objectives; eg: participatory governments, participatory budgets. And frequently criticized for instrumentalizing participation, understood as an organic mechanism of democratic organizations. Are the words strategy and participation contradictory? What operational and ethical challenges are at stake?

Participation, communication for development and social change

Practitioners as well as academics working in the field of Communication for Development and/or Social Change (CDSC) are invited to critically reflect on the role of regional communication, and on its participatory dimensions. What are the similarities and differences in how CDSC is conceived and practiced across the globe? Who are the changemakers, what are their goals and challenges, and how do they articulate and perform processes of change? A broad spectrum of initiatives – ranging from institutional actors such as governments and INGOs, to smaller NGOs, civil society platforms, and social entrepreneurs – may reflect on the role of participation and on how the transformation of social, cultural and political territories influence and/or function as a pretext for their work.

Activisms, resistances and social movements

Facing socio-political and economic crises, movements, activist collectives and community resistance have emerged over the years. Communication plays a key role in these collectives and initiatives, especially since the popularization of socio-digital networks. Our Section invites to critically discuss the actors, media and communication practices oriented to social change, as well as the challenges that are experienced in the midst of polarization, restrictions, the return to authoritarianism, wars and the reinforcement of borders, which characterize our times. How do indigenous peoples' resistances and activist collectives find creative ways to communicate? What experiences can we share about community media, digital activism, data activism and more? How do different collectives working for common causes intersect and interact?

Participatory Cultures

What brings people together in participation? Participation as taking part, as belonging, as a practice of conviviality. What drives participation? And what prevents it? Motivations and challenges to participation have been studied thoroughly, emphasizing the importance of agency and empowerment. As the part of the world that lives in comfort zones where access, connectivity and literacy and other preconditions for participation are guaranteed, seem to become numb, what is the place and role for participation? Is dissatisfaction a condition to participate? And what is the role of utopia - “I have a dream” - in participation?

Participation and digital communication

Participatory processes in our times are crossed by digital communication. On the one hand, the digital has been an important scenario for the participation and/or visibility of different actors. On the other hand, polarization, disinformation, digital attacks, surveillance and more, are factors that inhibit participation. Papers that critically discuss the link between participation and digital communication are welcome. How are digital communication practices in participatory processes? What are the implications of algorithmization, platformization, datification in these processes? What challenges does artificial intelligence open in social and political participation?

Participation and uncertainty

Risk? Crisis? The fear of the unknown? Although uncertainty as a concept has been the subject of psychological, economic, health and behaviour research, and intolerance to uncertainty has been identified and studied, it does not substantially feature in communication and participatory investigation. Does uncertainty about the future promote the need for participation? Is the participatory drive of communities enhanced by times of incertitude? Is the perception of risk a driver for participation and for creative and innovative forms of participation? Proposals that address these themes are encouraged.

Guidelines for abstracts

Abstracts are requested for papers to be presented in person at the conference in Christchurch. Abstracts submitted to the Participatory Communication Research Section should have between 300 and 500 words and must be submitted online here. Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted.

The deadline to submit abstracts is 7 February 2024, at 23.59 UTC.

It is expected that each person will submit only one (1) abstract. However, under no circumstances should there be more than two (2) abstracts bearing the name of the same author, either individually or as part of any group of authors. The same abstract, or a version with minor variations in title or content, must not be submitted to more than one section or working group. Such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be rejected by the abstract submission system, by the Head of the section or working group or by the Conference Programme Reviewer. Authors submitting the same work to multiple Sections or Working Groups risk being removed entirely from the conference programme.

Proposals are accepted for both single papers and for panels with several papers (in which you propose multiple papers that address a single theme). Please note that there are special procedures for submitting panel proposals.

See important dates and deadlines to keep in mind

Languages

PCR traditionally accepts contributions in English, French and Spanish, the official languages of IAMCR, and makes an effort to ensure language facilitators in all events. We also encourage presentations in at least two languages (slides in the alternative language: eg: communication in Spanish and slides in English) when indicated.

See resources for IAMCR conference preparation and participation

For further information about the Participatory Communication Research Section, or if you have questions about themes, submissions or panels please contact: iamcr.pcr@gmail.com

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