Crises, ‘Creative Destruction’ and the Global Power and Communication Orders
The conference theme centres on whether and how the current economic crisis and its attendant gales of "creative destruction" may serve to reshape the geo-political and communication orders. Will this crisis prompt or enable multi-dimensional change in the prevailing forms and modes of mediated communication on the one hand, and in global power structures and control processes on the other?
Much of the 'Western' core of the international system is now experiencing the deepest economic and financial crisis since the 1930s, manifest in a sustained period of austerity and low economic growth. Amidst the 1930s crisis and depression context, Schumpeter invoked the image of the gales of "creative destruction" to refer to the multiple forms of struggles, innovations and restructuring involved in the search for sustainable solutions to such deep crises. Such historically-rare crises and depressions tend to prompt multi-dimensional change - social, organisational, political as well as techno-economic innovations. They are not only financial or economic in scope, as such deep crises also engender struggles over causes and solutions which link to differing political, social and economic interests as well as cultural and value systems. Furthermore, such deep crises in the global north also articulate with crises in the global south in complex ways (e.g. the former may provide opportunities for development in the south, as occurred in many areas during the 1930s).
The overall conference theme lends itself to panels and papers dealing with a wide range of specific sub-themes and topics. These may include :
.1) Whether and how the current crisis and associated restructuring processes may serve to further amplify the role of new/digital communication networks, services and functions or even accelerate the long-run processes of ‘mediatisation’? What does the current crisis imply for the evolving role and relations between ‘new’ and ‘mature’ media? What, if any, is the relation between the broader economic crisis and the specifics of ‘crisis’ (or ‘creative destruction’) within the news media and journalism sectors? In what ways will ‘new media’ developments further extend the long-run expansion of the role of successive media and communication networks, services, and functions across all key spheres of social, political and economic life?
.2) Will the current crisis amplify strategic shifts in geo-political orders and/or in the forms and operations of global power and influence, and if so, how? How can we best define the role of media networks and public communication as increasingly important features of the geo-political order and the global operation of power and influence?
.3) How has the current economic crisis served to challenge, change or re-affirm the ‘public interest’ or ’public service’ roles and orientations of the media? What are the implications of the financial and economic crisis for the prevailing theories and practices of professional journalism, news media or other media of public communication? What does the current crisis and emerging shifts imply for the ‘watchdog’ role of news media or the established patterns of professional practices, routines, regulations and policy structures and/or the related corpus of theories, concepts or models across communication studies fields?
.4) How have the media served to define, characterise or represent the current crisis or to identify its implications for political, economic and social relations and the geo-political order? Does this crisis highlight tensions between the increasingly global scope of economic and financial relations and the ‘national prism’ framing political cultures and media discourses? Can we talk meaningfully of a singular crisis or of crises in the plural, each varying by specific global region or by sector? Does the current crisis and its attendant ‘creative destruction’ point to major shifts in the mediation of political processes or in the structures of power across different areas or sectors?
.5) In what ways is the current economic crisis likely to generate ‘new combinations’ of technological and political-economic, social or institutional innovations to enable a sustainable new period of social and economic development? What’s new and special about the role of mediated communication in enabling such a new phase of development – especially one that delivers enhanced welfare and social justice for the great majority of citizens whilst also addressing pressing environmental issues? In an era of pervasive and social media, how can we redefine the role, forms and potential of mediated communication in efforts to design and deliver a sustainable new paradigm or regime of social and economic development?
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