Locating the power of communication in a time of radical change
The post-truth, and decidedly digital, world is rapidly shifting the way we understand ourselves as media producers and consumers. We see billions of people now with communicative power in their hands actively shaping our world, its politics, its societies, its beliefs and ideas. We see people making their own audiences and speaking directly to them without recourse to the institutions of communication. We see the president of the world’s most powerful nation speak his thoughts and feelings directly to his followers via social media with no filter. Communication institutions of all kinds are being forced to prove their worth and usefulness and account for their methods, particularly when these methods are of the fact-based, verification variety. But media institutions of all kinds are compelled to adjust their social role, to work with and alongside new platforms and to think of their audiences as active and capable of speaking back, or even as competitors. At SACOMM 2017 we shall use the ‘post-truth’ moment as a backdrop against which to explore the idea of the power of communication at this moment in South Africa’s history. As global and local political, cultural and economic antagonisms and modes of resistance are ever-more visibly and quickly processed via the media.
The following questions are suggestive of topics to provoke presentations and conversations:
· What is truth? In what ways is truth under assault? Have we lost the power to appeal to fact-based reasoning as a ground for our public, social and political deliberations?
· Communication in its multiple forms is a significant power in our world. But is communication devoid of power in some circumstances?
· How do we think about the full spectrum of communication in this moment? Those who talk, those who transmit, those who listen, the many platforms, the high number of channels, the many forms of consumption and production.
· How do we rethink, in this moment, the ethical dimensions of communicative power? How do we reframe or reimagine the power of the audience to reject, disdain messages, the power to refuse to listen and alter one’s position. How do such questions matter in an era in which freedom of expression is often used as a weapon to force through speech that takes little account of truth and of the values and needs of audiences?
· The power of communication is not just simply the power of making messages, it is also a power to persuade, to grip the imagination, to provoke, to unsettle, to disrupt, to redirect. How do we come to terms with this invisible and often unacknowledged form of this power?
· The communication landscape/environment is very complex now. Minefields open up where different communication paths and social roles overlap/intersect.
· The power to resist change, the reactionary and the resulting messages. What about those who opt out and go into echo chambers? Complicated question: exposure and choice.
· Anger, emotion and outrage: which outrage is legitimate when everything is presented as a cause demanding a response?
· The personal is public and political in volatile and sometimes diabolical ways. The collapse between personal and political.
· In all this manic busy-ness, how do we open up spaces for listening, changing minds, adjusting positions?
· How do we think about the future of the communications professions? How do we continue to educate practitioners and theorists for the future?
Category 1: Full 20 minute conference paper presentations
Category 2: Poster presentations
Category 3: Panel discussion sessions and/or roundtable/workshop proposals
Academics and practitioners can submit abstracts for categories 1 – 3.
Emerging scholars (Honours, M.A. and Ph.D. students) can submit abstracts for categories 1 and 2.
All abstracts must be submitted on the correct abstract submission form. Submissions which are not submitted on the correct form will not be accepted. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted.
Abstract submission forms can be downloaded in MSWord format at http://www.sacomm.org.za/?page_id=484
Prof. Anthea Garman, Conference Convenor of SACOMM 2017
Deadline for electronic submission of all abstracts for peer review and other proposals: 15 May 2017. The conference organisers will notify authors about the status of their contributions via e-mail by end of June 2017.
A call for registration with further details about the conference will be released in July.
The conference theme gives an indication of the topic of discussions during plenary sessions at the SACOMM annual conference. Individual abstract submissions are not required to adhere to the conference theme.
SACOMM has six different streams. Please indicate which stream your abstract submission should be allocated to on your abstract submission form.
The SACOMM streams are: