Media and Publics

Confirmed keynote speakers

Nancy Fraser, Professor of Political and Social Science, Newschool New York.
Noortje Marres, Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies – University of Warwick.
Stefania Milan, Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam.
Zizi Papacharissi, Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

The notion of ‘publics’ or ‘the public’  is as well-known as it is elusive of exact definition. In everyday vocabulary, it is most often used in reference to a collection of people – for example, the listening or protesting public – and carries normative ideals of the importance of the public in democratic society. Within academia, the concept itself and the process of the formation of publics have been and continue to be highly theorised across disciplines and in the wake of societal changes, leaving a multitude of different conceptualisations behind. 

Journalism has for a long time been seen as ‘guardians’ of the public sphere and public connection, being both a space for information and deliberation, in turn cultivating and forming publics. Journalistic media are not only aimed or addressed at publics, but they also claim to act as their ‘voice’, for instance by giving space to citizens’ voices. Today, a new radically transforming force – the datafication of society – has become inescapable and poses new questions of how datafication affects the formation, development and cultivation of publics as well as how these developments can and should be conceptualised and empirically investigated. 

Entangled with big tech platforms, battling regulation and changing news consumption patterns, journalistic media and other media increasingly ground their decision-making practices on the algorithmic processing of audience and user data. Not only do algorithms create possibilities for filtering – they also work invisibly to sort users by highlighting certain content and paths, turning audiences into highly datafied publics, raising issues of surveillance and data anxieties. We can observe how global networks of data activists and scholars are starting to investigate the many ways in which publics engage with surveillance regimes and articulate strategies to resist it. How can we understand the expansion of intelligent systems into society possibly altering the perception and exercise of political agency, the governance by data infrastructures and the emergence of grassroots responses such as data activism?

Mediated publics are moreover transformed by the emergence of digital niche and alternative media, resulting in different forms of ‘issue publics’ and ‘counter-publics’ fueled by social media logics. The networked and hybrid media system of the information age provides marginalized and radical movements with rich opportunities for the creation of topically and ideologically distinct publics challenging perceived hegemonies in public discourse. These dynamics and links between legacy and alternative media in the formation of publics in modern digital societies have in turn important implications for the fragmentation, polarization and radicalization of public discourse, which needs further exploration.

The conference will consist in a mix of keynote lectures and panels, and a number of thematic sessions (see call for papers). There will also be a digital track. The registration fee is 100 Euros (50 Euros for postgraduate students), which includes lunch, tea and coffee breaks as well as a pre-conference reception on April 27th and the conference dinner to be held on April 28th. Travel to Roskilde/Copenhagen and accommodation is not included.