CFP: Communication and Society: A New Era
The first “controlled openings” in the Algerian mediatic space occurred in the aftermath of the 1988 social movements. NAQD partially examined this phenomenon in its issue number 8/9 (1995). At this time, the unequal flows of North-South information had been reinforced by the launching of numerous satellites that covered most of the planet. Everywhere, from Tonga to Ahmedabad, trans-border television was deployed without any constraints other than the acquisition of parabolic antennas by the public. In that special issue of NAQD we sought to interrogate the position of television which, in the context of post-modernity, appeared both as a privileged object of mass communication and an instrument of democracy. At the same time, between the market of consumerist ideas and a neo-communitarian utopia, approaches and reactions diverged given the fascination with this uninterrupted source of signs, images, and messages.
With the questioning of state-led economics and the state monopoly over the means of communication, the situation was profoundly altered. The development of world economies and neoliberalism, the rapid rise of New Technologies of Information and Communication (NTICs) and their control by the mammoths of the internet, gave rise to profound upheavals in the production of information and culture as well as in the field of image diffusion, ideograms, and content. We thus seek to take stock of that which has occurred in the domain of the media and society with a critical distance. In fact, twenty years of changes in the media space is highly significant, as much in the availability of programming and communication by cultural industries as well as in the reception and public use by the audience.
This forthcoming special issue thus intends to interrogate the main dynamics of the current realities in this domain and to address the following questions:
How did the repeated demands of social movements at the end of the 1980s (October 1988 for Algeria), as well as the rise of religious and cultural extremism, generate and fortify the ferments of resistance against the unitary media system that had been solidified by the advocates of state apparatuses?
Under the double influence of the changes introduced by the globalization of communication and the social dynamics of the appropriation of new media, one should identify both the profiles of the actors in the media field as well as how their actions are produced. Basing their actions on a shaky political software based on controlled opening, rulers in the MENA region and in multinational companies set their laws and rules of the game.
Simultaneously, endogenous and exogenous communication entrepreneurs and professionals diversified the formats and contents released in national, foreign and new languages. What can be said about the content, both as commodified products and symbolic values extracted from the core of the cultural patrimony, that has often been abused by state media since Independence? How can we analyze the “variety – diversity – liberty” of offshore commercial TV channels, which have been brutally providing the audience-consumers with a wide range of unbridled images since 2011, often in spite of the principles of ethics and even human dignity? But also - since media flows are never unidirectional – how can we make sense of the many uses of this content, multiplied by an infinity of receptors, that the audiences make in reaction to and in avoidance of these contents?
Finally, we suggest in a purely indicative fashion the following themes for research and critical reflection:
1 – The Ecology and configuration of mediatic systems in Algeria, the Maghreb, and/or the Middle East and Global South.
2 – Media regulation: laws, rules, regulatory bodies. What are the connections with the universal norms of the rule of law (if such a thing even exists)? What are the concrete
dimensions of the respect for the norms of audio-visual public service?
3 - Media economy / institutional communication / advertising / cultural industry: is there competition between commodities and symbolic values?
4 - Journalism, as a profession and a mode of production. The news produced by press moguls both printed and online; how can we interrogate the quality and possibility of professional training for those in the media? What has been the role of professional organizations after the advent of associations and NGOs for the defense of journalists and the right to inform (for example the Movement of Algerian journalists of 1988)?
5 – What are the social uses of available and sought-after offers or the local alternative media available on the internet?
6 – How can we make sense of a fragmented media space that is also resolutely open to social networks? How does this influence a critical journalism that is also respectful of the right of the citizen to be informed. What are the concrete consequences of these observations for the formation of a democratic public space?
Articles can be written in Arabic, English or French. They must be 30.000 to 50.000 characters in length (spaces not included), or between 3000 and 5000 words. If submissions have previously appeared in another publication, they should be brought up to date and/or extended. The deadline for submission is late November/early December 2018.