Storytelling, Persuasion and Mobilization in the Digital Age
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 Export to Your Calendar 5/20/2020
When: 5/20/2020
9:00 AM
Where: University of Sydney
Contact: Filippo Trevisan

Online registration is available until: 5/1/2020
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Storytelling is central to the persuasion and mobilization strategies of advocacy organizations, activist groups, NGOs, political parties, and campaigns. However, technological, communicative, and political changes have challenged traditional storytelling practices and incentivized significant innovation in this area in recent years. Changes in technology have transformed the scale and pace at which individual stories can be collected, digitally archived, curated, and then distributed through online platforms. Changes in communication and politics have increased the emphasis on personalized advocacy strategies targeted at affective publics (Papacharissi, 2015), as campaigners seek to navigate an increasingly fragmented and polarised information environment. Researchers today face a challenge in representing both the continuity in the narrative dimension of politics while also interrogating emerging and impactful innovations. This raises important questions about power dynamics and representations associated with changing storytelling practices, roles, and relationships between individual storytellers, organizations, and social groups in a constantly evolving media landscape. These questions are relevant to multiple related fields including, among others, the sociology of political communications (Polletta 2006), policy studies (Jones, Shanahan and McBeth 2014) journalism studies (Polletta and Callahan 2017), and public interest communication. This one-day preconference pays attention to these questions and brings together researchers from multiple disciplinary perspectives to discuss the impact of changing storytelling practices on individuals, groups, organizations, target publics, and public discourse more broadly. We welcome submissions from theoretical and empirical inquiries that examine the following areas: • Reconciling conceptualizations of storytelling from intersecting perspectives in political life: in particular interest groups, social movements, NGOs, parties and political campaigns, as well as journalism; • The impact of evolving digital communication technologies, including but not limited to social media, mobile devices, and database technology on the practice of persuasive storytelling; • How publics and citizens respond to stories; • The role of storytelling in response to changing political and media contexts, in particular the evolution of information consumption habits and the rise of “fake news;” • The significance and impact of advocacy storytelling on the (in)visibility of groups that are traditionally marginalized and under-represented in public discourse (e.g. gender, LGBTQI+, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.); • The outcomes of storytelling in politics, such as successes or failures in public policy; • The ethics of storytelling and the power relationship between advocacy organizations and individual storytellers; • Storytelling in a comparative and global context, such as the diffusion of storytelling practices between political actors and countries, as well as their relationship with culture and media environments; • Innovative methodological approaches to study persuasive storytelling and analyze its impact. Our credentials: We have strong track records in hosting academic convenings, alongside international profiles that should attract a strong response to our call for papers. Dr Filippo Trevisan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., where he is also the Deputy Director of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP). His research explores the impact of new media technologies on advocacy, activism, and political communication. He has published widely on digital strategic communication, online organizing, and political campaigning. Among other publications, he is the author of “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” (Routledge, 2017). He has been invited to share his research at events organized by the United Nations, the European Parliament, and Google. His work has been featured on The Washington Post, the BBC, and Al-Jazeera English. He has convened panels at APSA and MeCCSA, and co-chairs the mini-track on social media, culture, identity and inclusion at the HICSS conference. In 2019, he co-organized a successful ICA pre-conference on Sport Communication & Social Justice, and currently is co-editing a special issue of the journal Communication and Sport based on the pre-conference. Dr Ariadne Vromen is Professor of Political Sociology and Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include: political participation, social movements, advocacy organisations, digital politics, and young people and politics. She is the author of several books on political participation and Australian politics, including “Digital Citizenship and Political Engagement” (Palgrave, 2017). Her current projects include an ARC-funded study of crowd-sourced political engagement and two SREI-funded projects on digital rights and women and the future of work respectively. She has organized several conferences, workshops, and roundtables on digital politics, most recently in collaboration with the Sydney Policy Lab, and is among the organizers of the annual Pop Politics Australia conference that brings together emerging and established researchers to discuss their latest work on political organizations and participation. Michael Vaughan is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney’s Department of Government and International Relations and recently submitted his doctoral dissertation looking at social movements around international tax justice after the financial crisis in the UK and Australia. He has already published several journal articles in Social Movement Studies, the Australian Journal of Political Science, and Media International Australia, focusing on both Australian politics and different dimensions of digital politics. In addition to his scholarly work, Michael’s professional background includes almost a decade working in politics as a campaigner and policy adviser for various NGOs and government.