Popular Culture Working Group

The Popular Culture Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) invites submissions of abstracts for papers and panel proposals for the 2019 IAMCR conference to be held from 7-11 July, 2019 at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. The deadline to submit your abstract is on 8 February 2019, at 23.59 UTC. This deadline will not be extended.

“Communication, Technology, and Human Dignity: Disputed Rights, Contested Truths”

IAMCR conferences address a wide diversity of topics defined by our 32 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, and in some of the sessions of the sections and working groups. The central theme for 2019 focuses on communication, technology, and human dignity.

The year 2018 saw the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At its heart was the premise that everyone had the right to live in dignity. In the intervening years, with the successive growth of television, the explosion of digital media, and the emergence of artificial intelligence, communication systems have become ever more central to organizing every aspect of daily life, prompting renewed attention to questions around their role in both supporting and subverting the exercise of rights and the achievement of universal dignity.

The right to voice and visibility, to have one’s experiences and ideas fairly represented in the heartlands of public culture is now established as a basic human right alongside rights of access to the comprehensive information and analysis that supports individual expression and social participation on a basis of equality, dignity and mutual respect.

Under current conditions these fundamental communication-related rights are under increasing pressure and threat. Control over the organisation of innovations in communication and their applications has increasing passed from governments to corporations. Concern with the public interest and the common good has been increasing displaced by business models designed to maximise revenues. These models are bolstering appeals to consumption while weakening the social contract of citizenship, providing new and largely unregulated platforms for the dissemination of rumour, misinformation and ‘fake’ news, ushering in the era of so called ‘post truth’ and reinforcing social and political polarization

These developments are taking place against a backdrop of rapidly widening inequalities of income and wealth both within countries and between different areas of the world. One visible manifestation of these changes is the escalating volume of migrations driven by political and environmental as well as economic pressures. The resulting expansion in the numbers of refugees and displaced persons poses new challenges for the rights of minorities and for guarantees of personal freedom and full access to citizens’ rights.
With Communication, Technology and Human Dignity as the principal themes, the 2019 Madrid Congress aims to generate a cross-disciplinary debate that brings differing but interacting perspectives to bear on the urgent issues raised by present developments. This objective will be the primary focus of the plenary sessions and special sessions and as in previous years we encourage sections and the working groups to pay particular attention to the core themes in organizing their programs, while not precluding presentations based on recent research and theorizing in other areas covered by their remits.

The objective should not simply be to present new evidence and theorizing on key issues, but to reflect on the situation today in order to suggest how present developments may unfold in future and to engage with the challenges they present for research, policy and action.

At IAMCR Madrid 2019, we aim to analyse the impact of the latest advances in communication technology on society, culture and human rights, giving special importance to the quality and authenticity of sources and messages in view of increased mechanization and artificial intelligence. The context of these problems is how the advance of technology affects the quality of human life, how communication technology affects the objectivity of facts, and how the geopolitical and socioeconomic contexts are affected by the most recent changes in the structure and modes adopted by communication processes.
Present tendencies and scenarios pose urgent questions for individual and social rights. How can communication continue to facilitate human connection, understanding and mutual respect in the face of the ever-increasing technological nature of the media and geopolitical turbulence? How can we define and reflect on our personal and social identities at a time when the emerging technologies and other factors call into question the established notion of “belonging to a nation”?

We are faced then with clear challenges in respect of the quality of communication, the quality of life and human dignity.

We encourage participants to address these issues both from the viewpoint of the predominant communication systems and from those which are arising from the use of the new technologies – artificial intelligence, the growth of automation and robotics, Big Data and the Internet of Things. We also welcome analyses which re-evaluate and take a fresh look at human dignity in respect of geopolitics, the present-day socio-economic context, religion, transparency, accessibility and discrimination, and the re-composition of power, in the overall context of the implications of technology and communication in an interconnected world.

Topics addressing the central theme

The Popular Culture Working Group acknowledges the dynamic character of social, political and cultural changes in relation to communication and in specific to popular culture. It is often in popular culture that the first challenges to the establishment and status quo become visible. We therefore invite abstracts and proposals that explore the following themes:
    • Technology and/in popular culture
    • Popular representations of resistance
    • Gender, race, class and sexuality and identity narratives
    • Big data and popular culture
    • Popular Culture and the religious imaginaries
    • Liminal celebrity, exoticism and identity
    • Ethical imaginations in popular culture
    • Creating the truth in/by popular imaginaries
    • Identity, aesthetics and the popular
    • Surveillance and consumer culture
    • Datafication, agency and identity
    • Commodification of human rights
    • Popular representations of human rights crises
    • Populism, sustainability and social media

Proposals not mentioned above but relevant to the broad topic area will also be considered.

Submission of Abstracts

Abstracts must be submitted from 3 December 2018 through 8 February 2019. We welcome both individual abstracts and panel presentations.

The Popular Culture Working group will also welcome abstracts for video presentations, as part of an experiment to allow for remote participation. If you wish to submit an abstract for a video presentation, please carefully read the Joint Call for Video Presentations and follow the procedure explained there.

We ask you to kindly submit proposals in good time at the abstract submission site – https://iamcr-ocs.org.

Deadlines and important dates

The deadline to submit abstracts is 8 February 2019, at 23.59 UTC.
    • 3 December 2018 - Abstract submission system opens at https://iamcr-ocs.org
    • 8 February 2019 - Deadline to submit abstracts
    • 28 March 2019 - Abstract decisions announced by sections and working groups
    • 7 April 2019 - Deadline to apply for travel grants and awards
    • 11 April 2019 - Deadline to confirm participation
    • 7 May 2019 - Draft conference programme schedule released
    • 14 May 2019 - Last day for Early bird registration
    • 7 June 2019 - Deadline for full paper (or video) submission
    • 17 June 2019 - Last day for changes to be made in the print version of the programme
    • 7-11 July 2019 - IAMCR Conference


This Working Group accepts abstract submissions and presentations in English only.

Guidelines for abstracts

Abstracts should be between 300 and 500 words. All abstracts must be submitted through the IAMCR Open Conference System. Abstracts sent by email will not be accepted.

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. Please note also that the same abstract or another 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 OCS system, by the relevant Head or by the Conference Programme Reviewer. Authors submitting them risk being removed entirely from the conference programme.

For further information, please consult the IAMCR Madrid 2019 web page or contact the Local Organizing Committee by email: madrid2019@iamcr.org

Evaluation Criteria

Submitted abstracts will generally be evaluated on the basis of:
    1. Theoretical contribution
    2. Methods
    3. Quality of writing
    4. Literature review
    5. Relevance of the proposal to the work of the Section or Working Group
    6. Originality and/or significance


Tonny Krijnen <krijnen@eshcc.eur.nl>, co-chair of the Popular Culture Working Group

Venue of the Congress

The IAMCR Madrid 2019 Congress will take place at the School of Communication of the Complutense University of Madrid, situated on the Moncloa Campus at the Avenida Complutense. It is near the city centre, with a Metro station only 5 minutes away and less than a 30 minute walk from Moncloa or the Halls of Residence area. Moncloa is a communications hub, and a well-known shopping and touristic area of the capital.

The School of Communication teaches degree courses in Journalism, AV Communication and Advertising and Public Relations. Master and doctoral degrees are also taught in Audiovisual Heritage and Multimedia Journalism and Communication (from a variety of viewpoints: socio-cultural, political, organizational, audiovisual, social, etc.). Demand for degree courses was such that the original building soon became insufficient and in 2003, a second teaching centre was added adjacent to the old one; the new building houses lecture halls for senior students, masters’ courses, offices for professors and lecturers and a large auditorium.

The School of Communication will soon become the second largest centre of the University in terms of the number of students and the largest of its type in the country. The faculty is proud to serve the enormous demand for communication-related degrees.