Communication, Crisis, and Critique in Contemporary Capitalism.
Conference of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network
18 - Sociology of Communications and Media Research
October 18-20, 2012. University of the Basque Country, Bilbao
Keynote Talk: Prof. Peter Golding (Northumbria University, UK) – Why a
Sociologist should take Communications and Media Seriously
In the presentation of this paper, Peter Golding will reflect on why the
study of communications and media demands the insights and methods of
sociology, and why RN18 therefore is an appropriate network within the
European Sociological Association. He will present reflections on how
such key sociological concerns as inequality, identity, power, and
change are at the heart of the questions we should be posing in
addressing the nature and role of the media as institutions and
communications as a social process. The paper will also address how far
changes in the technologies of media and communications alter, or should
alter, our approach to generating research and insight in this field.
Peter Golding is pro-vice chancellor of research & innovation at
Northumbria University, founder and honorary chair of ESA RN18.
Call for Submissions and Participation
We are living in times of global capitalist crisis that require
rethinking the ways we organize society, communication, the media, and
our lives. The current crisis seems to a certain degree be different
compared to previous ones, among other reasons due to the role of
mediated communication and information in establishing/changing
economic, political, and social relations as well as the crisis itself.
The crisis can also be seen as crisis of what has been called consumer
capitalism or informational capitalism. More precisely it has resulted
on the one hand in a hyperneoliberal intensification of neo-conservative
policies and on the other hand in the emergence of new popular movements
that are critical of the commodification of everything and demand the
strengthening of society’s commons. The second movement has in the
social sciences been accompanied by a renewed interest in critical
studies, the critique and analysis of class and capitalism, and critical
political economy. The overall goal of this conference is to foster
scholarly presentations, networking, and exchange on the question of
which transitions media and communication and media sociology are
undergoing in contemporary society. The conference particularly welcomes
contributions that are inspired by sociological theories, critical
studies, and various strands and traditions of the critical study of
media & society.
Questions that can be covered by presentations include, but are not
* What is a crisis? What forms of crisis are there? How do they relate
to capitalism and communication?
* How have the media presented the crisis? Which similarities and
differences in crisis reporting are there between different media
(television, press, and new media) or between media in different countries?
* How has the crisis affected various media and cultural industries?
What is the role of changing media technology in the economic crisis?
How has the media economy changed since the start of the crisis in 2008?
How have advertising investments, profits, market values, etc developed
in the media economy since the start of the crisis? How has the global
expansion of media industries been reshaped by the crisis and what is
the future of global media and news agencies? What changes can be traced
in the production of news and other media content? Are there changes in
the nature of media products?
* What is the role of media and communication technologies in the
financialization, acceleration, and globalization of the capitalist
economy? How can a post-crisis media economy look like? How has
advertising favoured a climate of private consumer debt?
* What are the ideological implications of the crisis for mediascapes?
Which ideological discourses do companies, CEOs, managers, or neoliberal
politicians use for justifying their interests, lay-offs, high bonuses,
inequalities, etc and how are these discourses represented by the media
or in strategic company reports? How are hyper-neoliberal crisis policy
responses (“socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor” in the
form of bank bail outs and budget cuts in areas like welfare, education,
social security, health care, etc) ideologically justified and how do
the media represent such ideologies? What is the role of finance capital
in the media and cultural industries? Which hegemonic, alternative, or
contradictory interpretations and reception practices of media content
that relates to the crisis are there? Which ideologies and myths
underlie the capitalist crisis?
* What is the role of media, communication, critical journalism, and
alternative media in contemporary uproars, riots, rebellions, social
movements, protests, demonstrations, and revolutions?
* How do identities and mediated identities change in times of crisis?
How should one think about the relationship of economy and culture in
light of the capitalist crisis? What is the relationship of class and
identities and of politics of redistribution and recognition today? How
do we have to rethink and reshape the relation between political economy
and cultural studies in the light of capitalist crisis in order to
adequately study the media and communication?
* How is the public sphere changing in the light of the global crisis?
What are perspectives for politics, participation, and democracy today
and how do these perspectives relate to the media and communication? Is
the role of media in democracy changing? If so, how? Are media a
distinct player in politics? If the established media form an estate of
power in democracy, do we today new a new estate of power? If so, how
could it look like?
* What are the causes, realities, and consequences of the
commodification of the communication commons? What are alternatives to
the commodification of the communication commons? How can one strengthen
and create public media and commons-based forms of communication? What
are the relationships and differences between the commodity logic, the
gift logic, and the logic of public goods and how do these logics shape
* How do contemporary societal trends, such as integration, diversity
and conflicts in Europe and the world, transnationalism and networking,
digitization, informatization, globalization, glocalization,
prosumption, neoliberalism, privatization and commodification,
migration, racism, changing gender relations, consumer and advertising
culture, warfare, terrorism, the new imperialism, surveillance, social
movement protests, global societal risks, the strengthening of
right-wing extremist and fascist movements, or the anti-corporate
movement and other movements, shape media and communication and how do
media and communication in turn shape society in times of crisis and
* What are the tasks, roles, responsibilities, and identities of the
sociology of media and communication in a society that is facing deep
crisis? What is the actual or potential role of critique, ethics,
struggles, counter-power, resistance, protest, civil society, and social
movements in contemporary societies and contemporary communications?
* What are the major trends that shape contemporary society and how are
these trends related to mediated communication and knowledge production?
In what society do we live? What society do we desire to have? What
forms of media and communication do we find in contemporary society?
What forms of media and communication do we desire and how must society
change in order to achieve these goals?
* What are the major trends in respect to crisis, communication, and
critique in Europe? What are the major trends in respect to crisis,
communication, and critique in other parts of the world?
* How do different companies and organizations make use of different
information transmission technologies? What is the role of high speed
financial flows and associated transmission networks in the finance
industry? How (in)visible are these flows?
An abstract of 200-250 words should be sent to Dr. Romina Surugiu,
University of Bucharest, at the following e-mail address:
[log in to unmask] Please insert the words Bilbao in the
subject. The deadline for abstract submission is May 31st, 2012.