Community Communication and Alternative Media Section - CFP 2018

The IAMCR's Community Communication and Alternative Media Section invites submissions of abstracts for papers and panel proposals for the 2018 IAMCR conference to be held from 20 – 24 June, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon USA. The deadline to submit abstracts is 23:59 GMT on 31 January 2018.

Conference theme: Reimagining Sustainability: Communication and Media Research in a Changing World

The Community Communication and Alternative Media Section (COC) brings together research on community, alternative and citizens’ media, media activism, and other forms of civil society-based communication. It considers a range of non-governmental and non-commercial communication practices such as do-it-yourself media, media for and by communities of locality, identity or interest, Indigenous media, social movement communication, social media protests, counter-cultural expressions, people-based and participatory media and media that form a ‘third sector’ distinct from public service and commercial media. Such communication practices may use a variety of communication technologies, from print newsletters to mobile phones, from community radio to online social networks.

The section asks questions such as: How do marginalized groups develop, adapt, use and appropriate communication technologies? What makes citizen media effective and sustainable? What are innovative forms of media activism? What is the social, economic, legal and political environment of community and alternative media? What are appropriate theories and research methods for these media? What forms of journalism do they practice? Do they point us to new forms of networked publics, participatory democracy, and active citizenship (and/or are these concepts problematic)?

The section welcomes current research conducted with grassroots and systemically marginalized communities and social justice movements. COC is a large, diverse, open and friendly section. We are committed to the discussion of current practices and challenges facing social justice communications, the development of appropriate research approaches that can useful for grassroots communities and social justice movements.

Community Communication and Alternative Media focus areas, IAMCR 2018

The Community Communication and Alternative Media Section welcomes contributions from all scholars who research and work in this field and is encouraging submissions particularly on the following themes:

1. Beyond Sustainability

As sustainability is often co-opted for corporate greenwashing or focused on class-specific consumption practices, we ask what grassroots or alternative media and communication can offer for climate justice and environmental justice. How can communities most impacted by climate change and environmental destruction be heard? How does civil society monitor and critique greenwashing by governments and corporations? What are the Southern and Non-Western approaches to sustainability and how are these mediated? And how can activists and communities challenge the often-hidden environmental costs of media use?

2. Contesting Bans and Borders

The IAMCR conference is being held in the USA at a time of Travel Bans and the Border Wall with Mexico. In Europe and Australia far right parties and movements are in the ascendency. In Asia and Latin America, we are faced with populist leaders, ultra nationalist and conservative religious political forces. What are the movements and initiatives against the neoconservative wave and hate speech worldwide? How are community and alternative media organising and working in the context of bans, xenophobia, backlashes against human rights and hardening borders?

3. Innovative communication practices for social justice

In a time of resurgent populism, xenophobia, ultra-nationalism and far right movements in many parts of the world, innovative and creative ways to communicate have emerged. Using dialogue, music, graffiti, theatre, performance, photography, audio or video individuals and collectives are engaging in diverse communicative practices that aim at fostering social justice, building peace, and challenging corporate media and surveillance. Where do these practices emerge? What methods are we using to register and analyze them? How are innovation and creativity being used to develop original ways to communicate? How are these practices related to social movements, local struggles, social justice issues and peace building efforts?

4. Digital Activism, Data and Social Change

In an era of ubiquitous surveillance and data capitalism, what are the challenges and opportunities for alternative and community media? What are the possibilities to intervene in algorithmic logics and extractive business models? What are the prospects for data justice? In addition, major protests of the past decade have led to the emergence of innovative and experimental media practices – from DIY live streaming to data activism to social media uses to hacktivism. Many of them have been accompanied by claims that communication technology was at the heart of their success (or failure). Academia has seen debates on ‘Twitter Revolutions’, ‘liberation technology’, cyber-optimism and cyber-pessimism, and the values and limitations of commercial media platforms. What have we learnt from these experiences and the debates around them? What role has digital activism had in fostering social change?

5. Community and Alternative Journalism: Contexts and Characteristics

After Brexit and the election of US President Trump, Indian PM Modi and Philippines President Duterte among others, racism, law and order policies, militarised borders and populist nationalism are at the centre of politics in many parts of the world. Journalists are accused of ‘fake news’ and attacked at press conferences. What is the role of community and alternative journalism in such a context? What are the possibilities and challenges for critical reporting on white supremacist or ultra-nationalist movements? What new forms of grassroots media (and collaborations) are emerging in the wake of Wikileaks and other whistleblower projects? What journalistic practices have led to social and political transformations?

6. Challenges and Opportunities for Freedom of Expression, Communication Rights and the Democratization of Communications

The policy environment for community, alternative and citizen media offers a diverse picture. Community media are increasingly being legalized, but media freedoms are threatened by the ‘war on terror’, mass surveillance and content restrictions (such as internet blocking/filtering). How are community, alternative and citizen media impacted by global governance processes? What is the legal and regulatory situation of community, citizen and alternative media in different parts of the globe? How are local initiatives and experiences facing the challenges to freedom of expression and communication rights? What practices have emerged in the struggle to protect and exercise communication rights?

7. Theorizing Alternative, Community and Citizen Media

The Community Communication and Alternative Media Section is interested in investigating, continuing and challenging the theoretical directions laid out by leading thinkers in the field, and developing understandings of relevant emerging concepts. How do we update critical concepts in light of political, technological and social change? How can classic works in our field help us understand new practices and technologies? How do digital cultures and commercial social media affect collective communicative action and alternative media? How do we explore connects and disconnects between this field and related academic fields?


This Section accepts abstract submissions and presentations in ALL THREE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF IAMCR - English, French and Spanish. To this end, we are looking for volunteer translators/interpreters for abstracts, sessions and papers. If you can contribute and help translate some papers or key points into Spanish, French or English, please contact us (see details of Chairs and Vice-Chairs below).

Submissions Format

All proposals must include: Title, author/coordinator name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and full contact information (mailing address, email address, and telephone number)

Topic area (one of the 7 topics listed above).

Type of proposal:


Individual or co-authored scholarly paper: Applicants must submit a 300-500 word abstract. The abstract should describe:

  • the main question or research problem
  • its significance
  • the theoretical framework
  • what is known from existing research
  • the research method
  • expected outcomes
  • relation with the chosen topic area

Submitted abstracts will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • theoretical contribution
  • methods
  • quality of writing
  • literature review
  • relevance of the submission to the work of the Section or Working Group
  • originality and/or significance

Please note: descriptive case studies will not meet the selection criteria. Submissions should be scholarly papers which engage with theoretical concepts and academic literature as well as practice in community and alternative media.


Innovative formats: We encourage proposals for innovative formats such as workshops, video screenings, and performances, among others. Please bear in mind that these should include scholarly analysis. The coordinator must submit a well-defined 300-500 word document including

  • statement of purpose
  • conceptual framework or theoretical background
  • a detailed description of activities
  • any infrastructure requirements (space, projectors, etc.).

We cannot guarantee that all these formats will be feasible, but we commit to supporting proponents in making them possible.

Submitted abstracts will be evaluated on the basis of:

1. theoretical contribution
2. innovation of format
3. quality of writing
4. conceptual framework
5. relevance of the submission to the work of the Section or Working Group
6. originality and/or significance


Panel proposal: Applicants must submit a 300-500 word abstract of the panel including

  • the main theme to discuss
  • its significance
  • the perspectives from which the theme is developed in the different papers
  • the theoretical and research frameworks used in individual papers
  • relation with the chosen topic area
  • the titles of the individual papers (4 or 5)
  • details of the coordinator, moderator and optional discussant
  • The panel proposal and the individual abstracts must be submitted separately. Thus a panel with 4 papers will require 5 separate submissions via the OCS website.

Submitted abstracts will be evaluated on the basis of:

1. theoretical contribution
2. innovation of format
3. quality of writing
4. conceptual framework
5. relevance of the submission to the work of the Section or Working Group
6. originality and/or significance


It is expected that for the most part, only one (1) abstract will be submitted per person. However, under no circumstances should there be more than two (2) abstracts bearing the name of the same author either individually or as part of any group of authors. 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 OCS system, by the relevant Head or by the Conference Programme Reviewer. Authors submitting them risk being removed entirely from the conference programme.

Decisions on acceptance of abstracts will be communicated to applicants no later than 15 March 2018

Paper Submission

Presenters are expected to bring fully developed work to the conference. Prior to the conference, it is expected that a completed paper will be submitted to the Section. We strongly encourage presenters to bring full papers to the conference and to consider submitting them for publication in the Journal of Alternative and Community Media.

Submitting to the correct Section

If you submit your proposal to the wrong section, it may be rejected. Please consider carefully if the Community Communication and Alternative Media Section is most appropriate for your proposal (check the list of sections at Please contact us well before the deadline if you are unsure.


The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 January 2018. Please note that this deadline will not be extended.

Decisions on acceptance of abstracts will be communicated to applicants by their Section or Working Group Head no later than 15 March 2018.

Important dates and deadlines to keep in mind:

  • 9 November 2017 – Abstract submission system (OCS) opens

  • 31 January 2018 – Deadline for submissions

  • 8 March 2018 – Registration opens

  • 15 March 2018 – Notification of decisions of abstracts

  • 20 March 2018 – Deadline to apply for travel grants and awards

  • 3 April 2018 – Deadline to confirm your participation

  • 7 May 2018 – Last day to register at discounted early-bird fee

  • 28 May 2018 – Deadline for full paper submission

  • 1 June 2018 – Final conference programme published on the website

  • 20–24 June 2018 – IAMCR 2018 Conference

Community Communication and Alternative Media Section

Visit the Community Communication & Alternative Media Section's webpage >>>


Salvatore Scifo

Andrea Medrado

Co-Vice Chairs:

Tanja Dreher

Claudia Magallanes