[csaa-forum] CFP - Special Issue on Conspiracy Theories in Digital Environment
Thaiane Moreira De Oliveira
thaianeoliveira at id.uff.br
Fri Apr 16 01:41:48 ACST 2021
*[sorry for crossposting]*
Below is a call for papers to a special issue of Convergence Journal
on Conspiracy Theories in Digital Environment.
CFP: “Conspiracy Theories in Digital Environments”
Deadline for Abstracts: 1 May 2021
Expected date of print publication: August 2022
Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into
New Media Technologies Guest editors: Dr. Jing Zeng (University of Zurich,
Switzerland), Prof. Mike S. Schäfer (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and
Prof. Thaiane Oliveira (Federal Fluminense University, Brazil)
“Conspiracy theories”, once perceived as harmless phenomena that are “silly
and without merit” (Keelley, 1999, p.109), have garnered increased
attention among scholars, in news media and public discourse. Factors
contributing to the current prevalence of conspiracy theories are manifold.
>From the rise of populist politics (Bergmann & Butter, 2020) and
science-related populism (Mede & Schäfer, 2020) to the current pandemic,
societal and political upheaval are associated with an increase in
conspiracy theories. For researchers of new media technologies, one factor
rendering conspiracy theories particularly worthy of interrogation is their
close interplay with information and communication technologies. These
technologies can amplify the visibility of conspiracy theory-related
content and its promulgators (Bessi et al., 2015; Hellinger, 2018). Digital
platforms are also congregation points for conspiracy theorists, risking
polarisation of these “epistemologically isolated networks” (Sunstein &
Vermeule, 2009, p. 204). Digital platform logics (Van Dijck & Poell, 2013)
may exacerbate the problem of conspiracy theories, which has led to the
recent trend of the deplatformisation (Rogers, 2020) of conspiracy
theorists. As a result, many conspiracy theorists and their followers have
migrated to fringe platforms such as Gab, Parler, and BitChute.
Despite the recent expansion of scholarship about conspiracy theories, more
academic attention is required to systematically and comprehensively
interrogate the role of new media technologies in shaping, disseminating,
but also potentially mitigating conspiracy theories. Cross-cultural and
cross-platform perspectives are particularly needed in order to investigate
the full scope of the topic.
This requires not only methodological innovation but also new theoretical
ideas and conceptual heuristics. This special issue aims to assemble
scholarship from different disciplinary perspectives that offer conceptual
reflections, methodological advances, and in-depth discussions of
conspiracy theories in digital environments.
We particularly welcome submissions investigating this topic in countries
or regions in the Global South.
The editors welcome contributions that explore, or go beyond, questions
● Which actors propagate conspiracy theories in digital environments, how
prevalent are conspiracy theories in public discourse, which users
contribute to this reach, and in what ways does it affect them?
● To what extent do the communication and social functions of online
conspiracy theories differ across cultural contexts? How do conspiracy
theories operate online in different political systems?
● What conceptual and theoretical approaches are needed to analyze
conspiracy theories in digital environments - in how far do existing
concepts and theories have to be adapted or are novel concepts and theories
● What methodological approaches are suitable for
cross-platform/cross-lingual/cross-national analysis of conspiracy
● How do platform affordances influence conspiracy theories in digital
environments, especially in the case of emerging or “fringe” platforms
(such as TikTok, 8kun, Gab or Parler)?
Please send a 500-word abstract and a 100-word bio to guest editors:
j.zeng at ikmz.uzh.ch, m.schaefer at ikmz.uzh.ch, and thaianeoliveira at id.uff.br by
1 May 2021.
Authors of accepted abstracts will be contacted by 4 June and invited to
submit full contributions by 1 September 2021.
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