CFP: Participatory Communication Research Section Call 2017

Participatory Communication Research Section Call 2017

International Association for Media and Communication Research

Deadline: 9 February 2017

The Participatory Communication Research Section (PCR) explores the theory and practice of participatory communication, and has played an important role as a platform for new thinking. The PCR section addresses issues related to communication processes within the local, regional, national or international spheres and the ways in which communication, information and/or media foster social change through participation. While the PCR section has traditionally accommodated creative approaches to participatory communication, it has over recent years, intentionally encouraged interdisciplinary methods marked by critique and innovation.

The IAMCR 2017 conference theme allows the section an opportunity to highlight research related to participatory communication and social change, and the ways that participation allows for new discourses and new territorialities to be opened up, and mutations and communications to be generated. Moreover, the conference theme also allows defining participation still as a novel discourse, and as a new territory, that more than ever needs to be developed, deployed and defended all over the world, as a counter-balance to dark authoritarian, violent, populist, nationalist, racist, misogynist (and many other) voices that seem to be gaining the upper hand all over the world.

In addition to submissions related to the conference theme the section also welcomes contributions that discuss theoretical or methodological perspectives on a variety of participatory communication research issues and specific case studies. In particular, the section invites proposals for paper presentations and panels sessions that engage with any of the following themes:

1. Participatory theory

The section calls for presentations that develop a deeper understanding of the theoretical backbones of participatory practices. Proposals that ground participatory practices in social, political and/or cultural theory, or that provide a philosophical reflection on participatory practices are most welcome. Also conceptual discussions about the nature of participation, and its related concepts, as, for instance, power, empowerment, interaction and engagement, are welcomed.

2. Transcontinental dialogues about participation

The section invites colleagues working in the field of participatory communication research to submit panel proposals (and, if possible, individual papers) that bring together scholars from different regions, continents and territories to discuss particular aspects of participatory communication (social phenomena, theoretical and paradigmatic approaches, methods, …). Also comparative research and multi-regional case studies that are discussed in individual papers, is called for. The section believes that an intellectual exchange between different parts of the world would strengthen our work on participatory communication.

3. Regional-communicative perspectives on participation and CDSC (communication for development and social change)

The section invites practitioners as well as academics working in the field Communication for Development and/or Social Change (CDSC) 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 enact processes of change? What is the role of participation in these contexts? And how does the transformation of social, cultural and political territories influence and/or function as a pretext for their work? The section welcomes presentations and studies of a broad spectrum of initiatives, ranging from institutionalised actors such as governments, NGOs, or INGOs, to civil society-driven platforms and social movements.

4. Civil society participation: Consumers and citizens voices

Alternative forms of participation in the economic, social and political system have been emerging, originating from a civil society that has been looking for new paths and forums to make its voices heard. Whether in sparse and spontaneous events, or embedded in more organized and strategically designed movements, these phenomena have been gaining prominence and constitute a research topic that is of relevance to the section. Are these more authentic forms of participation and are they representative of social reality? Are they just part of an empowering, awareness-driven discourse for consumer-citizen initiatives, are they part of a media-staged scenario or do they have material consequences in the daily lives of communities? How to they emerge, survive or disappear in the vortex of contemporary existence? What powers do they subvert or create? What issues for academic research and why are they relevant?

5. Methodological challenges in participatory communication research

The section calls for presentations that focus on the methodological challenges that we meet as researchers in participatory communication. Relevant questions are here: What is ‘participatory’, if anything, about the ways in which we conduct research? Is participatory (action) research required for doing participatory communication research? How do we construct our identities as researchers, and negotiate our positions towards research participants and other stakeholders in a participatory-democratic way? How do we design the analytical process, and implement criteria for validating our findings? How can we present our work in more interactive and participatory ways? Submissions to this subsection are preferably grounded in concrete research experiences within participatory communication. All research traditions are welcome, including quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic, arts-based, action-oriented, etc.

6. Participation and the private sphere

The section calls for theoretical or research-based individual paper and panel proposals, from researchers or media practitioners working on participatory communication projects dealing with thematics that challenge the traditional split between public and private spheres. It welcomes innovative proposals that emphasise the importance of discourses of participation and power in areas of social life which are traditionally considered private; or free from political or institutional interference. The section is especially interested in proposals that extend the discourses of the political beyond performativities of gender, sexuality and moral behaviours socially defined as ‘conventional’ and ‘normal’. This may include, but is not limited to, themes of participation, power and decision-making in gender relationships, queer sexualities, intimate personal experiences, religious practices, fetishism and fantastic obsessions.

Abstracts should be submitted via the IAMCR Open Conference System at from 1 December 2016 – 9 February 2017. Both individual and panel submissions are welcome. Early submission is strongly encouraged. For more information on the submission guidelines and criteria for evaluation, visit –