Political Economy Section - Call for Proposals 2021

The Political Economy 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

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.


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.

The IAMCR Political Economy Section hopes you will agree these themes are highly topical under current political/economic (and clinical) conditions! We therefore invite papers and multi-paper session proposals which investigate the power relations which underpin structural inequities but also explore alternatives for advancing the cause of human rights, human dignity and the right to communicate. The accelerating mediatization of political, economic and cultural institutions and behaviours are interlinked with and articulated through the industrial, regulatory and ideological conditions of the digital media ecology.

We therefore encourage participants to critically examine the ways that governments, corporations, institutions (or other structures and social formation) inhibit, suppress or unleash peoples’ rights to communicate.  What are the political economic logics or ideological structures that shape  participation in public life?  We also welcome analyses that focuses on how communities and assemblages at variegated scales exercise agency within these contexts to advance the cause of human dignity and the right to communicate.  In what ways are people struggling against these inequities?  What are the obscured practices and/or emergent alternatives in the struggle to reclaim human dignity? And how do digital media platforms provide opportunities to extend or resist the political economic interests driving their development?

In addition to and /or in articulation with the conference sub-themes, the Political Economy Section also welcomes submissions on:

  • Political economy of digital broadcasting, telecommunications, social media and mobile communications,
  • Political economy of audiences,
  • Political economy of journalism,
  • Transcultural political economy of global communication
  • Political economy of gender and feminism in media/communication,
  • Political economy of Big Data, information and surveillance,
  • Political economy of the media and climate change/anthropocene,
  • Moral economies, gift economies, public goods and free culture/free economics,
  • Media, capital and financialization of corporate media,
  • Civil society, participatory democracy, media activism,
  • Communication/mediation of markets and finance.
  • Politics, media/communication policy and regulation,
  • Media, citizenship, cultural right and democracy,
  • De-commodification, de-marketization or de-convergence in communications
  • Cultural industries, cultural economy and diversity,
  • Cultural and creative labor in the context of digitization and global capitalism,
  • Continuities and crisis (financial, ecological, moral, others),
  • Communication experiences of the social media activism around the world (Brazil, Hong Kong, Colombia, Malaysia, Greece, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Taiwan, Spain, Turkey etc.) as counter hegemonic social agents
  • Global capital and media power spatialities/temporalities
  • Free trade agreements, copyright and communication and cultural policies.

Guidelines for abstracts

Abstracts submitted to the Political Economy section 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 Political Economy section. 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.

Criteria for Evaluation 

Submitted abstracts will generally be evaluated on the basis of:

  • General coherence and relevance to the political economy section
  • Evidence of theoretical/methodological rigor
  • Empirical or conceptual originality which extends/provokes debate about the field of political economy
  • Gives voice to subaltern/under-represented groups/countries, or facilitates resistance/praxis


The Political Economy section will review abstracts in the IAMCR official languages (English, French, Spanish), but generally encourages the membership and participants to submit their papers in English.

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] iamcr.org

For further information about the Political Economy section, its themes, submissions and multi-paper sessions please contact: Rodrigo Gomez Garcia (Chair) <rgomez [at] cua.uam.mx>