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ANZCA 2021 Conference

Melbourne, Australia | July 6–9, 2021

Hosted by the Media and Communications Program, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

THEME: Communication, Authority and Power

The ANZCA 2021 conference will consider how various forms, institutions and practices of communication both involve and are affected by mobilisations of authority and power.  Communication has always been central to both the exercise of and struggles surrounding power and authority, and communication practices and practitioners are affected by and implicated in power relations. Fields and practices of communication have constituted vital domains through which authority and power are exercised and contested. Simultaneously, fields such as journalism have been construed as mechanisms through which power is held to account through forms of representation that lay claim to speak on behalf of ‘the people’ or ‘public interest’.  Such forms, practices and constructions of authority are mutable, however, and are subject to transformation as they are affected by processes of change and contestation. These include the mobilisation of resources and strategies by various actors who seek to take advantage of emergent opportunities to exercise power, challenge existing authorities, and reconfigure power relations. ANZCA 2020 invites participants to engage with this year’s theme, addressing how communication is implicated in and affected by power relations, how these are changing, and key issues this poses for the present and future.

Potential themes include:

  • How can ‘authority’ and ‘power’ be understood in contemporary communication, and how may their forms and configurations be changing?
  • What are the implications of the rise of algorithmic decision-making and ‘platform power’ for wider relations of authority and power in digital communication ecologies?
  • To what extent has the authority claimed by particular fields and practitioners of communication come under challenge in recent years, and what have been the consequences of and responses to such challenges?
  • What new forms of power and authority are emerging within and outside the field of communication, and what are the challenges these present for both communication research and public life?
  • How do different actors, including states and activist groups from across the political spectrum, seek to take advantage of communicative affordances and relations to entrench and/or transform existing power relations?
  • How do inherited perspectives for understanding and addressing relations of power and forms of authority remain apt today, and/or to what extent do normative critical frameworks require interrogation and reconsideration?
  • What key concerns are presented by recent changes in the formations and relations of authority and power that shape our social and political lives, and what are their critical implications for media and communication scholars and scholarship?

We welcome submissions for papers and panels on a wide range of topics in a range of areas in contemporary communications, media and cultural studies, as well as related areas such as political and historical studies, journalism, sociology and creative practices. We are also hosting a Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher day as well as several keynote and panel discussions.

The submission deadline for paper abstracts is Friday 26 February.

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