Key themes in digital disconnection research: Authenticity, wellness, datafication and power


Key themes in digital disconnection research:
Authenticity, wellness, datafication and power

International Communication Association Annual Conference, Toronto, Canada

Thursday, 25 May: 9:00-17:00, Victoria University – University of Toronto

Sponsored by the following ICA groups: Activism, Communication and Social Justice Interest
Group; Intercultural Communication Division; Mobile Communication Division; Philosophy,
Theory, and Critique Division

Deadline for Abstracts: January 20, 2023

The preconference explores the topic of authenticity in disconnection studies, as authenticity emerges as both a negative and positive motive: Citizens log off to avoid inauthentic social media and hope to achieve a more authentic life by engaging in offline activities. However, these motives are fraught with contradictions and ambivalence, to be explored at the preconference. In particular, the preconference addresses how these tensions around authenticity are situated in a broader context, promoting the discussion around the key topics of wellness, datafication and power. Contributions are invited on how digital breaks are facilitated or prevented by communication industries, socio-economic status, social networks, cultural practices, and the relations between these different structures. The preconference especially welcomes studies of disconnection across different domains and across social groups. We are particularly interested in research focusing on a variety of sociopolitical contexts, beyond the Anglo-Saxon and European experience. Building on a successful preconference in Paris in 2022, this second disconnection studies preconference has three main objectives:

1. Expand collaboration: the preconference in Toronto builds on the effort developed during Covid years and in Paris, to invite scholars with fresh perspectives to contribute, namely to expand approaches and collaborations across disciplines, media and regions of the world.

2. Expand the range of topics and perspectives: the event stimulates studies that consider the links between macro, meso, and micro perspectives through four critical themes. Furthermore, the preconference aims to expand participation in the research area from non-western sites, as well as studies focused on intercultural perspectives.

3. Stimulate networking and career development among junior and senior academics: the fast development of the field calls for a need to facilitate contact across national borders and disciplines that this event can foster.

We encourage abstracts emphasizing the following dimensions:

  • Methodological approaches and empirical analyses of disconnection as it intersects with authenticity, wellness, datafication and power
  • Theoretical and conceptual advances of disconnection studies with respect to the themes of authenticity, wellness, datafication and power
  • Cultural, cross-cultural and historical perspectives on disconnection
  • Explorations of motivations and consequences of digital disconnection practices
  • Studies of disconnection practices in understudied locations, social domains and among understudied demographics.


The conference is based on non-anonymous abstracts of no more than 300 words, exclud. references. Submit abstracts as Word documents to by January 20, 2023, including info on author name, position and affiliation. The abstracts will be subject to a review process by the organizing committee and placed in thematic clusters for panel discussions and roundtable talks. Decisions on acceptance will be communicated to applicants by February 17. Authors of accepted abstracts are expected to attend the preconference in person. Participation fee (including coffee break and lunch) is US $15 for all participants. Each participant should cover their travel and accommodation costs.

The venue is Victoria University in the University of Toronto. It is located about 2km from the big conference hotels and accessible via Subway.


• Trine Syvertsen, Professor, University of Oslo • Gunn Enli, Professor, University of Oslo • Tero Karppi, Associate Professor, University of Toronto (Local host) • Anne Kaun, Professor, Södertörn University • Ana Jorge, Associate Professor, Lusófona University • Stine Lomborg, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen • Mariek Vanden Abeele, Associate Professor, Ghent University • Victoria Andelsman, PhD candidate, University of Copenhagen • Christoffer Bagger, PhD candidate, University of Copenhagen • Sara Van Bruyssel, PhD candidate, Ghent University • Tom De Leyn, postdoc, Ghent University • Bert Verhulst, PhD candidate, Ghent University


The preconference is sponsored by The Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at the University of Toronto; the research project Datafied Living, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the ERC, at University of Copenhagen; and the research project Digitox, funded by the Research Council of Norway, at the University of Oslo.