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2013-12-01 | CFP: Digital Technologies and Social Transformations: What Role for Critical Theory?

posted 21 Oct 2013, 03:36 by Lola Fernández Santos   [ updated 15 Jan 2014, 00:52 ]
CFP: Digital Technologies and Social Transformations: What Role for
Critical Theory?

Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication

Guest Editors: Delia Dumitrica and Sally Wyatt

In the past two decades, social research on the role of digital
technologies in contemporary transformations has increasingly emerged as a
disciplinary field in its own right. This has entailed a shift away from
optimistic accounts of the alleged potential of these technologies to
address social problems and alleviate inequalities, to a more nuanced
understanding of the mutual shaping of digital technologies and existing
social structures. Calls for recuperating the role of critical theory in
understanding digital technologies (e.g. Feenberg 1991, 1999; Fuchs 2008,
2009) have emphasized the need to develop and refine suitable conceptual
and methodological tools.

The aim of this special issue is to map the use of critical theory in
research on digital technologies. These technologies are often lauded for
their capacity to harness creativity and knowledge, and proposed as a
quick fix to the challenges and shortcomings of traditional hierarchies of
power. Critical theory has emerged as an effort to constantly relate
reflection on social aspects to existing configurations of power. The
special issue brings together current research seeking to relate
interpretation of digital technologies to power relations. The notion of
power remains, of course, a notoriously problematic one; from its Marxist
definition as (class) oppression to the post-structural (Foucaultian)
power/knowledge pair, the common thrust of critical approaches has been to
expose inequity and create conceptual and material spaces where more fair
and egalitarian social arrangements can be imagined and enacted.

Authors are encouraged to reflect on the role of power, in all its
aspects, in their approach to digital technologies. We welcome a diverse
approach to critical theory, including (but not restricted to) the
traditional Marxist framework developed by the Frankfurt School, as well
as subsequent revisions stemming from post-structuralism, postmodernism,
feminism, queer theory, postcolonialism and indigenous epistemologies. We
are also particularly interested in approaches that draw upon Canadian
traditions, such as those inspired by the work of McLuhan, Smythe, Mosco,
etc. Submissions should directly engage with the question of power, either
in terms of conceptualizing technology or in terms of reflecting on
technology’s role in social transformations.

We invite authors to submit papers exploring this problematic with
reference to diverse themes and cases, including, but not limited to
studies of:

- Digital technologies and democratic/economic empowerment (e.g.
destabilizing authoritarian regimes; alleviating the democratic deficit;
including marginalized or disenfranchised groups; new forms of politics,
- Digital technologies and the state (e.g. security; cybercrime; public
policy; governance, etc.);
- Digital technologies and power in everyday life (e.g. cyber-identity;
sociability; social ties; social capital; networks; mundane Panopticism;
- Digital technologies and relations of production (e.g. immaterial labor;
knowledge creation/mobilization; big data; cloud computing; cultural
production; etc.);
- Digital technologies in social sciences (e.g. critical thinking; modes
of learning; evaluation and monitoring of scholarly labor, gamification,

Extended abstracts (600 words) will be accepted until December 1, 2013.
Abstracts should explicitly discuss how the role of power/ critical theory
will be addressed in the context of the respective argument/ case. Please
include a prospective title, 5-7 keywords and a short bio-note about
yourself. We welcome abstracts in either English or French.

The editors will review the abstracts and invite submission of full-length
papers (7,000 – 9,000 words) for blind peer-review. An invitation to
submit a full-length paper is not a guarantee that the paper will be
accepted, and all articles will undergo a peer-review process. Deadline
for the submission of full-length papers: March 1, 2014.

To submit your abstract, or for any further queries regarding this special
issue, please contact the issue editors directly: cjcissue@ucalgary.ca

All submissions should follow the Canadian Journal of Communication
submission guidelines: http://www.cjc-online.ca/submissions

Works Cited

Feenberg, Andrew. (1991). Critical Theory of Technology. Oxford University

Feenberg, Andrew. (1999). Questioning Technology. Routledge.

Fuchs, Christian. (2009). Information and communication technologies &
society: A contribution to the critique of the political economy of the
Internet. European Journal of Communication, 24 (1): 69-87

Fuchs, Christian (2009). A contribution to theoretical foundations of
critical media and communication studies. Javnost – The Public, 16(2):