Overview
 
Theme for 2022:
MEDIATED SOLIDARITIES AND INEQUALITIES
The third decade of the 21st century has started dramatically for the mankind – the pandemic, growing world tensions, ‘proxy wars’, refugee flows, digital threats, and environmental points of no return dominate the agendas, create new divisions, and shape emergency decision-making around the world. Communication has been key to all these processes: From the infodemic to international environmental forums to spinning in public diplomacy to online storms, global and local audiences have been witnessing the growing capacities and dangers of today’s communicative environments. And not the abundance of information was the biggest hazard, but the fractures in coherent public discussion, lack of collaboration and agreement, and (re)production of existing and new social and political inequalities that prevented mindful deliberation.

Today, media solidarities (Nikunen, 2018) and, wider, mediated solidarities get fractured. Inevitably, the growth of complexity and tension in communication of all levels affects the quality of deliberation and social choice locally, nationally, and internationally. We, though, believe that this impact may have positive sides, too. In online realms where patterns of public discussion lead to cumulative opinion formation, the roles and motives of deliberative individuals make scholars reassess the human grounds of public opinion, including personality, emotion, and fear, thus coming back from ‘re-feudalizing’ institutions to persons. Tiny acts of political participation (Margetts et al., 2015) rethought as tiny communication actions (Habermas 1990) make each like matter for opinion aggregation. The new normativity that includes user communication into deliberative practices needs to develop the deontology for how to separate legitimate dissent from counter-productive and unbearable hatred – and how to grow solidarity despite the complexity of human differences.

Such a position calls for equal reassessing of the social roles of media, especially in polarized and fragmented societies of today. Beside the well-known social, political, and digital divides, we have been witnessing another gap, namely rationality vs. mythological and conspiracist mind, rapidly opening up and cutting across families, friendships, and us ourselves. Inequalities are also supported, rather than beaten, by online platforms and their affordances, creating hidden communities with latent boundaries. However, it is these platforms that also give home to previously impossible transnational online diaspora and ad hoc media that are content and space in one. In this environment, media of more traditional stance orient to audiences with distinct value sets. Even if this allows for audience formation and pursuing public goals that each editorial board considers right, this also deepens the cleavages in societies. Today, media decide whether they advocate for their version of what is right or create bridges between contested truths, and the second option is no less important than the first one.

Media, just as scholars and citizens, encounter Habermassian-and-not-only questions: How do we preserve and find new grounds of solidarity? Do we need the bridges between communities of varying logics, interests, origins, and experiences? And who is responsible for building them? Who still has capacities to overcome the social cleavages?

The 10th Jubilee conference ‘Comparative Media Studies in Today’s World’ (CMSTW’2022) focuses on mediated solidarities and inequalities across contexts and cultures. With it, the conference contributes to setting the research agendas for the next decade which promises even bigger growth of complexity and disruptiveness in social communication. At the same time, it features the scholars, research groups, universities, projects, journals, and sponsors that have been making this conference a meeting point for the leading world scholarship for nine years, 2013 to 2021. In 2022, a range of new formats and features are introduced, while events and participants from the previous conferences will also be in focus. The four traditional tracks of the conference will re-conceptualize the communicative solidarity and divisions (Theory), sharpen the political and social implications of inequalities (Political & Social), put journalism and media into perspective of social divides (Media Industry & Journalism), and develop approaches to detection of these divides in media content and online discussions (Methods).
Conference tracks
In 2022, the conference will have its four traditional tracks.
The submissions might orient to but are not limited to the following sub-topics:

!!! When submitting, please start your submission title with naming the track,
e.g. 'THEORY Rethinking media effects in the world of communication inequalities.'
This matters for allocation of awards.

THEORY track

Chair:
Silvio Waisbord, George Washington University, USA

• Solidarity and division as grounds for efficient opinion formation
• Theory of deliberation vs. communication theory: Crossing roads
• 'Frozen hegemonies' or 'liquid polarization'? Reassembling dialogue in online milieus
• Patterns and effects in mediated public opinion
• Personality and communication
• Digital media inequalities as a concept
• Groups and their languages in public debates
• Irrationality of communication as a human right and a new challenge
• Online/offline vs. public/private: Levels of privacy and strategies of openness

POLITICAL AND SOCIAL track

Chairs:
Svetlana S. Bodrunova, St.Petersburg State University, Russia
Anna Litvinenko, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

• Discourses of war and peace in today's public communication
• Global communication vs. nation states
• COVID-19 inequalities and divisions: The new people's choice
• Political communities and their media
• Cumulative dissent and unity in condemnation: Mediated manifestations of negative
solidarity
• Inequality mediated: Empowerment or acknolwdgement of weakness?
• Hopes and fears: Emotions in public affairs communication
• Ethnicity vs. inequality vs. communication
• Risk societies and risk journalism
• Does political journalism still matter? Direct user communication with politics and new
roles of media
• Public memory and media wars: Unequal representations of past

MEDIA INDUSTRY AND JOURNALISM track

Chair: Katrin Voltmer, University of Leeds (Emeritus), UK

• Media and Internet technologies for equal communication and Internet use
• An inequality dimension: Access to media and media technologies
• Platform affordances and their patterns of privileging
• Rethinking journalistic roles for social media
• Irrationality vs. audience building: The dumbing-down debate revisited?
• 'Back to people': The rise of advocacy journalism as a response to failure of objective
reporting
• Regional perspectives on journalistic standards
• Media consumption as a factor of social stratification
• Creative industries and urban environments as unequal spaces of communication
• The rise of the local: Localities and their media
• Journalism and social trust: The consequences of the pandemic
• Algorithmic gatekeeping and selective exposure to news

TECH AND METHODS track

Chair:
Olessia Koltsova, National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Russia

• Detecting communities and their borders
• Measuring inequality in online and offline communication: From concepts to metrics
• Destruction of the utopia: Qualitative research on Internet and its histories
• Media ethnographies and how they capture diversity
• New concepts for digital journalism(s)
• Platforms as contexts - and platforms vs. contexts
• The researcher's self and personal biases in research designs in communication science
• Humanizing the machine: Studies of alhorithms and media intermediaries
Past conferences
'Comparative Media Studies in Today's World' started in 2013 as a pre-conference to the Annual forum 'Media in the Modern World', a conference with an over-50-years history at St.Petersburg State University, Russia. Since then, the conference gathered experts in comparative media research, including Paolo Mancini, Larry Gross, Silvio Waisbord, Barbie Zelizer, Noshir Contractor, Katrin Voltmer, Nico Carpentier, Mark Deuze, Claudia Mellado, Susanne Fengler, Elena Vartanova, Thomas Hanitzsch, Daya Thussu, Zizi Papacharissi, Barbara Pfetsch, Oscar Westlund, Thorsten Quandt, Darren Lilleker, Karin Wahl-Jorgensen and many others.

CMSTW is an integral part of SMIF'2022 - the 61th Annual Forum 'Media in the Modern World', the Russian-language part of which will be held in June.

More information on the previous conferences may be found here:
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