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71st Annual ICA 2021 Conference Theme CFP

Posted By Administrator, Monday, July 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The ICA 2021 conference theme of Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication, Connectedness, and Social Justice calls for our examination of how care forms the fabric of our social and interconnected lives. From the moment that we enter this world we are completely dependent on the care of others, and as we move through our lives, the care of our teachers, doctors, leaders, and artists shape us into the adults that we are today. Even as we leave this earth, on our last days, we are comforted by the care of loved ones.

“Care” can be understood from a variety of perspectives relevant to communication. Namely, care can refer to: 

  • Providing Assistance for Others (She takes care of my aunt.)

  • Being Interested in a Topic/Issue/Idea (They care about the notion of compassion.)

  • Concern about Others’ Well-Being (He cares what will happen to his children.)

  • The Provision of Needed Attention or Resources (Do they provide care at the hospital?)

The concept of care can also be understood from at least two vantage points that intersect with those meanings: self-directed and community-centered. The relative priority of self and community care within a given community reflects deeply embedded cultural values, experiences of oppressions, access to resources, and histories of trust. 

The concept of “care” requires our thoughtful examination and reflection. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis of climate change, and militarized police brutality that continues to target, harass, and kill people of color, the urgency of care to address entrenched inequalities, an overarching climate of neglect, and a global political economy of individualized self-help has been rendered visible. Communication emerges in this backdrop as a transformative site for re-working care, anchoring it in relationships, communities, organizing processes, media systems, and social formations. Care is both constituted by and constitutive of communication, as a register for creating spaces of compassion and connectedness.

This theme invites scholars to consider a host of related questions and issues, including (but not limited to) the following: 

  • How do we cultivate and celebrate care? 

  • How is care communicated interpersonally, politically, economically, and via communication technologies? 

  • How can care be used to amplify diverse voices and provide courage to those who resist? 

  • How can care be the embodiment of healing, community, and solidarity? 

  • How is care enacted and experienced differently across communities and cultures? 

  • How is the concept of care relevant to issues of climate change and efforts to protect the humans, animals, and plants that inhabit our environment?

  • Why have those who provide us with care -- our teachers, our health-care workers, our refuse collectors -- been disparaged and economically neglected, only to now be deemed as “essential” and therefore expected to risk their lives to provide comfort to the most privileged? 

  • How has the concept of care been communicated in or executed in ways that work against social well-being or utilized to justify the continuation of inequities and oppression? 

  • In what way might structures and practices, such as transnational NGO programs, impose care in ways that instantiate neocolonial forms of power?  How can we probe the problematic ethics of care?

  • How and why is care “gendered,” and what impact does this have on labour and economic/political disparity?

  • How does the marketing of and profit from care by corporations, governments, or other entities use the same bodies in appeals that often get neglected in practice?

  • How can we use our scholarship to encourage and enhance care, and how can we ensure that our organization practices the ethic of care in our mentorship, our publications, our teaching, our research, our service, and our collaborations?


  • All submissions must focus on the concept of care; 

  • Work that debates, advances, critiques the concept of care can be submitted as papers so as to allow the theme committee to create panels that discuss and/or showcase open science practices; 

  • Panels for the theme should be cross-divisional (having broad appeal across all units of ICA) and adhere to the diversity considerations highlighted under the general guidelines below; 

  • Innovative (and interactive) and educational formats are encouraged. 

Submissions to theme sessions must follow all general guidelines put forward by ICA. Proposals for papers and panels on the conference theme are invited from all sectors of the field, and will be evaluated competitively by anonymous reviewers selected by the theme committee. Submissions deemed to fit only the interests of one division or interest group rather than the conference as a whole will be forwarded to that group for consideration. Papers or panels submitted to the theme must not be submitted simultaneously for consideration to any division or interest group. Panel proposals on the conference theme must include a 400-word rationale explaining how the panel fits the conference theme plus a separate 150-word summary of the rationale to appear in the conference program. 

GENERAL PROPOSALS As always: papers, posters, and panels that apply to general communication topics not having to do with theme are also welcome, though it should be noted that themes of inclusion, care, equity, justice, and diversity are not “niche issues”, and examining or addressing these topics even within seemingly unrelated papers (i.e., in both theme and non-theme submissions) is encouraged. New this year, questions will be added to the submission platform highlighting and asking authors to confirm that they have examined and addressed both the diversity of their works cited list as well as whether they have addressed the broader societal impact of their work. These calls are organized within the 33 ICA divisions and interest groups’ Calls for Papers, the submission guidelines for which will be enumerated on the ICA website in August. 

All panel submissions (general and theme) should include contributions from at least two different countries; not more than one contributor from a single faculty, department or school; and generally be mindful to consider panelist diversity.

Paper and panel submissions that involve direct collaboration with community partners, both in work and in authorship, are encouraged. 

Tags:  June-July 2020 

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