Communication Policy and Technology Section - Call for Proposals 2021

The Communication Policy and Technology (CPT) Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) invites the submission of proposals for single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference) for IAMCR 2021, which will be held online from 11 to 15 July, 2021. The conference will also have a regional hub in Nairobi, Kenya. Both the online conference and the regional hub will be hosted by the Department of Journalism & Corporate Communication of United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi. The deadline for submission is 9 February 2021, at 23.59 UTC.

See the IAMCR 2021 general call for proposals


IAMCR conferences address a wide diversity of themes defined by our 33 thematic sections and working groups. We also propose a single central theme to be explored throughout the conference with the aim of generating and exploring multiple perspectives. This theme is addressed in plenary and special sessions, and in some sessions of the sections and working groups. Not all submissions have to address this central theme. 

The central theme for IAMCR 2021, Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies, is concerned with how changes in communication theory and practice are challenging our understanding of global and local, creating new identities and discourses, and enabling a hybrid glocalisation, with both positive and negative consequences. 

Five sub-themes of this central theme have been identified: The rebirth of populist discourses; Activism and the new global social justice movements; Trends in global media ecosystems; Identity: Gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality; and Communication for development in health, climate change and education. See the complete theme description and rationale here.

Conference model: Online with an African "hub" and global satellite activities

In alignment with the possibilities offered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the conference’s main theme, Rethinking Borders and Boundaries, IAMCR 2021’s conference will offer multiple modalities for participation. It will be primarily an online conference but will also have an African “hub” at USIU-Africa, and satellite activities at various points around the globe.The various components of the conference include:

1. Online Conference Papers – Abstracts submitted in response to the section and working groups CfPs will be reviewed by the sections and working groups and accepted authors will be invited to submit short conference papers (1,000 to 4,000 words). These papers will be grouped into sessions and published on the conference website prior to the conference on a platform that will enable discussion during the conference.

2. Section and Working Group Online Sessions – IAMCR sections and working groups will curate a number of video sessions highlighting key issues within their thematic areas of specialisation.

3. Flow34 – A stream featuring videos that integrate academic and aesthetic narratives. Proposals for this component will be reviewed by the Flow34 team. Topics can originate from the entire field of Communication and Media Studies. The selected videos will be scheduled and presented on the conference platform.

4. Plenary Sessions – Several plenary sessions streamed from the conference hub at USIU-Africa will feature contributions from around the globe. 

5. Special and Partner Sessions – These video sessions will be produced by IAMCR and its partners. 

6. Nairobi Hub – In addition to being at the centre of the global online activities, the conference hub, at USIU-Africa, will host a regional face-to-face event (in accordance with the possibilities afforded by the pandemic). The regional event will interact with the global at several moments of the conference. 

7. Other Regional/National Hubs – We are currently considering the involvement of other regional and national hubs and will be accepting requests from IAMCR members interested in sponsoring them. 

This call for proposals is for the Online Conference Papers.

IAMCR members will have full access to all online components.

The Communication Policy and Technology (CPT) Section focuses on the role of policy (broadly defined) in the development of media and communication technologies, both analogue and digital, in past, current and future societies.

For the IAMCR 2021 conference we invite papers that explore how the general theme “Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies” relates to media and communication policy and technology. We are interested in papers related to policy issues around media, communication technologies and online platforms, ranging from print-cultures to online applications and the internet of things in different domains of society. Over the last decade, the relations between (state and regional) institutions, citizens, and corporations have been fundamentally reconfigured. This development is accelerated and complicated by the rapid rise of transnational digital media platforms and their role in public discourses, leading to policy struggles to keep up with the dynamic changes in all societal spheres. In addition, we witness the emergence of social (and populist) movements, often related to new modes of governance and participation, which reconfigure the boundaries between culture, communication and politics. And lastly, we see increasing tendencies to “re-nationalize” policies and politics related to media and the digital, leading to an increasing fragmentation of regulatory frameworks.

The CPT section invites submissions that critically engage with these issues from a policy and technology perspective.

We welcome both single papers and multi-paper session proposals addressing the following themes that fit in the general call for papers and are relevant to our section:

  • Big Data and its implications for privacy, inclusiveness, respect etc.;
  • Policies and debates around artificial intelligence and its ethical and social implications, including bias, discrimination, transparency and responsibility in different contexts;
  • The increasing levels of automation, algorithms and quantification in different social domains (e.g. health, social welfare, finance, news and entertainment production) and its ethical and social implications;
  • The use of (predictive and punitive) control systems in political and legal decision making;
  • Digital sovereignty, internet fragmentation and the challenges for global internet governance; 
  • Policies and research into the digital divide, mobile access, media literacy, access and inclusion programmes etc.;
  • Global and national media and communication governance and their role in promoting pluralism and diversity;
  • International vs. national policies (e.g. trade policies and the resulting tensions between countries such as China and the US) and implications for communication and media practices
  • Historical development of communication and media policies in diverse regions and countries;
  • Comparative analysis of different policy regimes, their implementations and implications;
  • The effectiveness of international policies and laws related to ICTs and the Internet in different regions of the world;
  • The roles played by citizens, communities and organizations (both locally and globally) in shaping communication and media policies;
  • Media and online governance regarding disinformation, social network bots, online harassment, hate speech, and cyberbullying, particularly as it relates to gender, race, class, ethnicity, nationality etc.;
  • Policies and policy debates around recent and future communication technologies, including blockchain, 5G, IPv6, etc.;
  • Policies related to online advertising and its implications for consumers and their privacy;
  • Policies and debates around public service obligations, pluralism and diversity, convergence and net neutrality in broadcasting and internet/telecommunications services;
  • National and regional policy initiatives, e.g.  China's Belt and Road Initiative, ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) etc.

Please note that the CPT section does not cover all the spectrum of communication technology-related research. As such, it is not meant to be the primary submission venue for proposals which focus only on the role of technology for political communication (e.g. campaigning), on human-computer-interaction (e.g. user research without policy implication), on the political economy of technology without a clear connection to policy (e.g. media ownership and concentration) and similar topics without a clear policy dimension. Please note that, depending on the number of submissions received, we may not be able to redirect proposals covering such topics and submitted to CPT to more appropriate sections or working groups of IAMCR.

Guidelines for abstracts

The CP&T section welcomes abstract proposals of between 300 and 500 words for papers in line with the conference and CP&T themes.

Abstracts should contain a title, main question or research problem, your theoretical framework, the method(s) used, and summarise the findings and their policy relevance. Abstracts must be submitted online via IAMCR's online submission platform. Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted.

The deadline to submit abstracts is 9 February 2021 at 23h59 UTC.

Proposals are accepted for both single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference). Please note that there are special procedures for submitting multi-paper sessions. You can find the detailed procedures when submitting your abstract online in the abstract submission system.

Requirements and Evaluation

It is expected that authors will submit only one (1) abstract. However, under no circumstances should there be more than two (2) abstracts bearing the name of the same author, either individually or as first author. Please note also that the same abstract or another version with minor variations in title or content must not be submitted to more than one Section or Working Group. Such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be rejected by the relevant Head or by the Conference Programme Reviewer. Authors submitting them risk being removed entirely from the conference programme.

After a first review by the section chairs, submitted abstracts fitting the scope on the section and fulfilling the necessary requirements will be evaluated by a double-blind review on the basis of: (1) theoretical contribution, (2) methods, (3) quality of writing, (4) literature review, (5) relevance of the submission to the work of the CP&T section and (communication/technology/media) policy, and (6) originality and/or significance of the work.

If your abstract is accepted, you will need to submit your full conference paper (1,000 to 4,000 words) by 7 June 2021, in order to be included in the programme.

As in previous years, a CP&T best paper award prize may be awarded. Only full papers submitted in advance of the conference, and by the full paper deadline (7 June 2021) qualify for consideration.


The Communication Policy and Technology Section welcomes papers in English, French and Spanish.

See important dates and deadlines to keep in mind

For further information about the conference contact nairobi2021 [at]

For further information on the CPT themes, submissions, multi-paper sessions and on the CP&T section please contact:

Chair: Francesca Musiani (francesca.musiani [at], CNRS, France.
Chair: Julia Pohle (julia.pohle [at], WZB, Germany.
Vice-Chair: Weiyu Zhang (viyucheung [at], National University of Singapore, Singapore.
Vice-Chair: Jeremy Shtern (jshtern [at], Ryerson University, Canada.