Struggling with Technology

Editors: Stine Liv Johansen (Aarhus University), Maja Sonne Damkjær (Aarhus University), Martina Skrubbeltrang Mahnke (University of Copenhagen) and Ane Kathrine Lolholm Gammelby (Aarhus University).

Motivation and aim

This special issue of Nordicom Review explores and discusses the concept “struggling” in relation to media and technology use. “Struggling with technology” is a dual concept. It refers not only to situations where media technology is adopted to deal with different struggles but also to situations where media technology itself becomes the subject of struggle.

Media technology permeates our social, leisure and work life. Although media technology is often implemented to support everyday activities and communication, it sometimes “gets in the way”, is experienced as difficult to handle or becomes the subject of heated debate. In other cases, people challenged by specific life situations or issues such as physical or mental health problems adopt particular technologies in order to overcome these struggles in – for them – meaningful ways.

Appropriation of new technologies thus often fosters – or is fostered by – different kinds of struggle. Technologies may contribute to amplify and extend or modify and constrain specific capabilities for communication as well as change or reconfigure practices, meanings, social relations and relations of power. Given the similarities of the Nordic media and welfare systems and the Nordic countries’ rapid adoption of media technologies, this special issue will explore the concept of struggling specifically within a Nordic context (cross-national comparative studies are welcome).

This special issue aims to contribute to the current debate about societal implications of media and technology use through different theoretical, analytical, empirical and conceptual discussions of how individuals and groups experience “struggling” with technology. A further goal is to examine how discourses and metaphors concerning our engagement with technology affect understandings of media and technology. When these critical discussions become nuanced and sharpened, which we hope to achieve with this special issue, we as a research community contribute to improving insight into the roles that different media and technologies play in our lives.

Under the theme “struggling with technology” we invite researchers to focus on aspects of our lives with media and technology that become pertinent because they are troublesome, imbued with conflict, discomfort or uncertainty, or lead individuals and groups to struggle. We wish to scrutinise features of media and technology use associated with “struggle at different phases of life and between and across generations and social groups, as well as how media and technology users demonstrate agency and creativity in how they respond to these circumstances. 

We welcome contributions that examine and discuss the phenomenon of “struggling with technology” in-depth, especially in relation to cultural, social, historical and temporal perspectives on the multiple and complex ways in which people engage with and make use of different media types and technologies. We especially encourage contributors to discuss theoretical aspects of the concept “struggling”, for instance how the given framework of “struggling” can be operationalised for empirical media and technology studies, and how different perspectives can be integrated both analytically and conceptually.

Procedure and important dates

The special issue is expected to be published online and in print in the winter 2020/2021. The selection of papers to be included in this special issue will follow this two-step procedure:                                            

  • Authors submit title and abstract (no more than 600 words incl. references) of their papers along with five-six keywords and short author bios (no more than 150 words per author) to the special issue editors (please send this to The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 October 2019 at 23:59 CET. The authors will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance by early December 2019.
  • If an abstract is accepted, the authors will be requested to submit a full paper (no more than 7000 words including all references and appendices) anonymised for double-blind peer review and formatted according to the Nordicom Review guidelines. The deadline for submission of invited, anonymised full papers is 1 April 2020. The subsequent double-blind peer review process and other administrative matters will take place according to a timeline to be further arranged by the special issue editors and the main editorial board.                                                                          

Nordicom Review’s guidelines

Please note that if the invited, anonymised full papers are deemed incompatible with the preceding accepted abstracts or do not demonstrate sufficient academic quality, the special issue editors will reserve the right to reject such papers in line with Nordicom Review’s editorial policy.

Nordicom Review’s editorial policy

Please address all questions as well as abstracts and full paper submissions to

Stine Liv Johansen, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark (

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 October 2019