About the conference – University of Copenhagen

Conference: New media and the public sphere
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New Media and the Public Sphere

International conference, 8-9 November 2012, University of Copenhagen

The new media are in the spotlight of contemporary research. Besides technological innovation and the ideological fascination of the ‘new’, their use, purpose and influence on society are still not fully understood. The development of the new media has become an important indicator for measuring social, cultural and political ‘change’. In the context of this conference, we understand ‘change’ as the increasingly interdependent nature of the political and the cultural life in the framework of new media.

The development of new communication technologies and the standardization process of their use have asked for reconsidering the concept of the public sphere and redefining the border between the private and the public. User-empowerment has opened the way for direct democracy and political participation, while user generated content changes the way we consider cultural production, making network society an inseparable cultural and political mix.

In this context of media transformation, we propose to reflect and discuss how we can understand conceptually and develop empirically the public sphere in our contemporary media driven society. Is the traditional concept of the public sphere, as developed by Habermas, with all its subsequent critiques, still viable and useful in the framework of new media? Is online communication still underlying the same normative assumptions of open debates among equals that are geared towards public opinion formation? If not, what can it be replaced with?

These are some of the questions to which we welcome academics, researchers and students to contribute, in this attempt to map the complex relations between new media and the public sphere. The conference will be structured around open keynote sessions, each followed by panel discussions, in which young researchers and PhD students have the opportunity to present and discuss their research with senior scholars. We invite you to share your ideas and theoretical contributions on the conference topic. Please follow the guidelines under Call for papers to submit your proposal. We particularly encourage the submission of on-going research and empirical studies.