Media development as an academic field focuses on research questions spanning from technical, economic, and political issues to the social and the cultural spheres. Media development has implications for society in many ways. Since all media today are more or less digital, research has approached digital media by exploring “new” methods, like digital methods (Rogers, 2019) but also as action research methods (Deuze & Witschge, 2020; Wagemans & Witschge, 2019). Action research in, as well as for, media development is part of a transformation where media research is more and more considered to solve societal problems.
Often, action research is practiced in local settings, interacting with stakeholders within a shared place and space and who have a shared concern for issues related to this. Both the local and the digital seem to have stimulated the application and appropriation of more normative projects characterised by the methods and sometimes also ideological foundations that action research utilises. In this realm, several applied projects touch upon research and development and innovation projects, innovation themes in the creative industries, and social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
It seems as though local digital media projects – spanning from business models to technologies like artificial intelligence – aim to create and solve media organisations’ problems through collaboration between researchers, media organisations, and audiences. These kinds of projects exist on other levels too, for example in applied projects from the EU, Vinnova, and so forth.
Action research is an ideological approach as much as a set of methods (Brydon-Miller et al., 2003). It comes with a more or less interventionist and collaborative goal, like collaborative media (Löwgren & Reimer, 2013), participatory communication (Tufte, 2014), alternative journalism (Deuze & Witschge, 2020), and innovation and journalism (Wagemans & Witschge, 2019).
Participant-oriented action research strives for interaction and joint knowledge production where the decisive factor is that some form of social change occurs. The classical theoretical concepts worked with are those such as empowerment, participation, and the commons. At the same time, action research methods seem to be an important driver in the increasing pressure to demonstrate research impact, spurred by innovation and development using collaborative practices.
What do these intersections and boundaries of social change, innovation, and entrepreneurship mean for media scholars using action research in digital media research? And how can scholars meet and deal with the fact that action research is often criticised for the descriptive nature, lack of analysis, and low research contribution?
Hence, as with other methodological approaches, action research methods are developing. It is therefore important to discuss what such approaches mean and can be in relation to these contemporary media developments. The aim of this special issue is to invite a broad discussion of the boundaries of the field: the advantages and challenges with action research focusing on media development in the intersection of social change, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This special issue welcomes articles on all matters pertaining to developing what an action-research approach could and should mean for media development studies.
The purpose of this special issue of Nordicom Review is to define and understand action-oriented research practices in relation to media development, where media, communication, and journalism studies have discipline specificities and cultural contexts that beneficially will enhance understandings of action research. Nordic media development shows strong linkages to the welfare state and particular national culture values. In the commercial field, action research has been rebranded as design thinking and product development (Lundin & Norbäck, 2015). What does that mean in a context where action research is also mainly used as applied research, for improving media services and developing new forms of journalism through experiments and tests? Design thinking has become the main framework for developing commercial service, also in media and journalism. And how is the particular heritage of Scandinavian Participatory Design and participatory action research explored and utilised in relation to more studies now making use of action research, more or less with the ideological standpoint of empowering the weak and making social change?
Contributions to the special issue could address, but are not limited to, action research examples within media, communication, and journalism studies from various disciplines and cultural contexts, aiming to define and describe or critically discuss issues related to this.
Contributions can, for instance, focus on some of the following themes:
- Development of action research methods in digital media studies
- Collaborative development in media organisations
- New audience approaches and participatory business media models
- Inclusion and integration of less-resourced groups
- Contributions to action research theory and method building, for example, ethics.
- Critique of action research and participatory approaches in media, communication, and journalism studies.
- Innovation and entrepreneurship for local media
- Conceptual developments on action research for social change and social innovation.
- Action research as creating “real-life difference”, not always “creating solution”.
The selection of papers to be published will take place according to the following three-step procedure:
Step 1: Authors are requested to submit the title and abstract (600 words max. incl. references) of their papers along with five to six keywords and short bios (150 words max. for each author) to the special issue editors. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 November 2020, and the authors will be notified of the eventual acceptance by 20 December 2020 at the latest.
Step 2: If an abstract is accepted, the authors will be requested to submit full papers (7,000 words max. inclusive of any front or end matter) anonymised for double-blind review and formatted according to the Nordicom Review guidelines. The deadline for submission of full anonymised papers is 1 May 2021, after which a double-blind peer review will take place. Please note that an accepted abstract is not automatically an accepted article. The special issue editors reserve the right to reject articles that are not in line with Nordicom Review’s aims and scope, where the quality is insufficient, or the guidelines have not been followed.
Feedback from reviewers will be sent to authors by the end of July 2021 at the latest.The deadline for submission of revised manuscripts is September 2021. Planned publication is January 2022.
For questions as well as abstract submissions, please contact:
Pernilla Severson, email@example.com
Sara Leckner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl-Gustav Lindén, email@example.com
We look forward to receiving your submissions!
About Nordicom Review
Nordicom Review is published by Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. It adheres to a rigorous double-blind reviewing policy, is included in SCOPUS, and is published Open Access in association with Sciendo. Beginning with the 2020 volume, Nordicom Review is an online-only journal.
Aims and scope
Nordicom Review is an international peer-reviewed journal that provides a dedicated forum for articles contributing to a wider understanding of media, mediated communication and journalism in the Nordic region. This includes research on Nordic countries as well as research with relevance for the Nordic context.
Nordicom Review publishes original articles and book reviews on topics such as journalism, popular culture, media audiences, media history, political communication, public service media, media and information literacy, media education, and media production, structure, policy and economy.
The journal is interdisciplinary and publishes both empirical and theoretical articles. Nordicom Review welcomes contributions from a worldwide authorship.