A Call for Papers for the ICA post-conference on 

Strengthening Communication for Social Justice through Education and Research

26 May 2020


Date: 26 May 2020


Venue: The Women’s College of The University of Queensland

Deadline for abstract submission: 1 March 2020

Abstract word limit: 250

Following the 70th International Communication Association Conference (ICA), 21-25 May 2020, leading academics who work in the area Communication for Social Change and Social Justice plan to organise a post-conference event on the theme of Strengthening Communication for Social Justice through Education and Research on 26 May 2020 at the University of Queensland. 

The main aim of this event is to build a network of associates with existing and emerging academic programmes and to strengthen educational and scholarly initiatives. 

This event seeks to explore the pedagogic relevance of key themes associated with Communication for Social Justice and to explore the extent to which they have been incorporated into formal academic teaching and research programmes. The conference will discuss emerging trends and shifts in the dynamics in the teaching and research of Communications for Social Justice. The discussion will also explore emerging and innovative trends in communication for social justice, considering the role of digital and other mediated technologies. 

The following topics are identified as the main themes of the discussion and dialogue during the post-conference under the general theme of Communication for Social Justice. We invite communication scholars and researchers to address the following themes: 

Communication for social justice as an overarching theme

Social justice is described as a movement toward equal access to resources, opportunities and privileges for all. Social injustices however are global in scope, affecting the lives of many people. The gap between those who have access to information, knowledge and opportunities and those who have not is growing wider. Communication for Social Justice explores communication processes, as well as appropriate media and channels that leverage social justice and bring about positive changes in the society. Communication scholars, academics, practitioners are seeking ways to strengthen communication theories, methods and practices for enabling marginalised and oppressed people across the globe to engage on behalf of just and fair opportunities for themselves. 

  1. Media plurality and media movements 

The role of media in the promotion of social justice is important, remaining a valuable channel to create awareness of injustices and to motivate and mobilize to demand justice. Media reform movements worldwide have played their part in the democratisation of media and lobbying for the provisioning of public space for deliberation and the critical questioning of governance and public affairs (Segura & Waisbord, 2016). Media movements also may provide an inclusive space for marginalised and underrepresented strata of society to exercise their communication rights to demand for social equality and equity. Further and deeper critical analysis would need to look at areas of digital communication along with other means, in considering how they may enhance social justice endeavours. 

 2. Digitalisation of media infrastructure 

Innovations in digital technologies have impacted the media, offering a radical shift in communication. While further strengthening the practices of media and journalism, digital media have also enabled more people to become active producers and disseminators of images and meanings (Couldry et al., 2018). Digital media have provided an enabling platform for marginalised, unheard and underrepresented voices that have been neglected by the mainstream media. Thus, empowered citizens that make best use of digital affordances, appropriating technologies such as mobile phones and social networking sites may add a new dimension of digitalisation of a public sphere for social justice (Uldam & Vestergaard, 2015).

While we acknowledge the benefits and opportunities offered by digital development to close the digital divide, we should also recognise that socio-economic inequalities have widened due to inequitable access to information, knowledge, power and resources in the digital arena. This has had a negative effect on meaningful participation in the digital public sphere (Couldry et al., 2018)3.


3.Access to information – Open access 

Appropriation of digital space is associated with open access to knowledge and information in digital age. Open movements, in particular open access and access to information movements have gained a momentum in the 21st century, becoming a tool serve for social justice. Access and utilisation of open knowledge in the digital domain and transparent and open communication contribute to informed public participation in social and governance affairs. On the other hand, unequal access to knowledge and information in the public digital sphere poses a threat of widening inequalities (Couldry et al., 2018).


4.Internet and digital surveillance in digital era

Issues related to communications and the digital surveillance of personal and individual data have become a part of political debate and discussion. A large amount of data can now be gathered through the use of algorithms and governments and commercial entities are posing threats to human rights of personal privacy and security (Digitalrightswatch.org.au). Digitally illiterate strata of the society are at risk of coming under greater surveillance, posing concerns for their privacy (Gangadharan, 2017). 


5.Roles and impact of social media for social change and social justice

New forms of media in a digital arena contribute to bringing social justice, enabling people to speak out on social injustices in their context. In contexts where mainstream media is influenced by political and commercial bias, the rise of independent and citizen-created media contribute to the production of public knowledge, thus contribute to mobilisations of voices of informed citizens and collective actions for social justice (Couldry et al., 2018).

Questions for further exploration:

Invitation to submit abstracts:

Abstracts of approximately 250 words (one-page Word document excluding references) should be emailed to ccsc@uq.edu.au by 1 March 2020. The abstracts shall include full contact details, including name, department, institutional affiliation and e-mail address. One person can send a maximum of two abstracts. In the case of co-authors, one of the authors shall be responsible for correspondence. Selected abstracts will be requested to submit a max of 750 words of an extended concept paper no later than by 1 May 2020.


Couldry, N., Rodriguez, C., Bolin, G., Cohen, J., Goggin, G., Kraidy, M., . . . Thomas, P. (2018). Media and Communications*. In Ipsp (Ed.), Rethinking Society for the 21st Century: Report of the International Panel on Social Progress: Volume 2: Political Regulation, Governance, and Societal Transformations (Vol. 2, pp. 523-562). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gangadharan, S. P. (2017). The downside of digital inclusion: Expectations and experiences of privacy and surveillance among marginal Internet users. New Media & Society, 19(4), 597-615. doi:10.1177/1461444815614053

Segura, M. S., & Waisbord, S. R. (2016). Media movements : civil society and media policy reform in Latin America. London: Zed Books.

Uldam, J., & Vestergaard, A. (2015). Civic Engagement and Social Media Political Participation Beyond Protest. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK : Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan.