Digital Divide Working Group - Call for proposals 2021

The Digital Divide (DID) Working Group 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 educationSee 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 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.

Within the general conference theme, Digital Divide Working Group is particularly interested in exploring the role of digital technologies in forming new identities and discourses beyond the global/local dimensions. We will discuss how digital inequalities are represented in global, glocal and translocality contexts, and how global challenges are being intensified by unequal access and use of ICTs in different regions of the world. 

At IAMCR 2021 conference, we encourage discussion around different types, forms, levels and representations of inequalities in various national contexts, with a special attention being given to comparisons and contrasts between Global North and Global South regions of the world. We also welcome submissions on digital inclusion and public activism as vital issues for democratic societies in regard to social, economic, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, geographical, educational, gender, age and other dimensions. Furthermore, we welcome papers discussing the role ICTs and AI are playing in the construction of the digital future and contributing to the equality across various groups in the society, as well as across various nations and countries of the world. 

Our Working Group welcomes new theoretical approaches and empirical findings resulted from the research of digital inequality as a multi-dimensional phenomenon influencing various aspects of social life all across the world. In this respect we are also interested in stimulating fruitful discussions about co-relation of such factors as age, gender, income, education, location and technical skills to use ICTs, as well as the co-relation of media literacy and social inclusion in the modern social and political life.

For the 2021 annual conference we invite paper proposals on any of the following key topics:

  • Digital divide in global/local contexts;
  • Global communication problems and digital divide;
  • New digital divides in the pandemic and post-pandemic world;
  • Digital inequalities and public activism: Experiences from the Global North and the Global South;
  • Access/use/opportunities divides and ways to overcome them;
  • Digital inclusion as a factor contributing to sustainable development of nations and individuals;
  • Digital divide and digital capital: Theoretical understanding and empirical measurements;
  • Digital divide and social divide: Interrelations and interdependencies;
  • The role of digital divide in communication across cultures, ethnicities and regions;
  • Correlation between digital skills / digital literacy and the way human rights are exercised by individuals and on a broader social level

Guidelines for abstracts

Abstracts submitted to the Digital Divide Working Group should have between 300 and 500 words and must be submitted online via IAMCR's online submission platform. Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted.

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. No more than one (1) abstract can be submitted by an author to the Digital Divide Working Group. 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. Any such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be rejected.

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.

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.


Digital Divide Working Group accepts abstract submissions in all three official languages of the association (English, Spanish and French).

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

See important dates and deadlines to keep in mind

For further information about the conference contact nairobi2021 [at]

For further information about the Digital Divide Working Group, its themes, submissions and multi-paper sessions please contact:

Chair: Olga Smirnova, smirnovaorama [at] gmail.comVice Chair: Anna Gladkova, gladkova_a [at] list.ruVice Chair: Massimo Ragnedda, massimo.ragnedda [at]

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