Critical Digital and Social Media Studies: New Call for Book Submissions

Critical Digital and Social Media Studies: New Call for Book Submissions

Critical Digital and Social Media Studies is an established book series edited by Professor Christian Fuchs on behalf of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies and published by the University of Westminster Press (UWP). We invite submissions of book proposals that fall within the scope of the series.

CALL DETAILS After the publication of twelve titles in the series (and several others commissioned for 2020) we invite submission of book proposals (adhering to the guidelines set out below) as one document with one full chapter for book titles in the range of 35,000-80,000 words. The books in the series are published online in an open access format available online without payment using a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-NC-ND) and simultaneously as affordable paperbacks. We are able to publish a number of books in the call without any book processing charges for authors. Potential authors are welcome to contact the series editor outside of the initial time frame of this call for book proposals but should note that priority for funding support for suitable projects will be given to those proposals meeting the deadline. There is a preference for the submission of proposals for books whose writing can be finished and that can be submitted to UWP within the next 6-15 months. In the event of a surplus of strong proposals preference will be given to single-authored book proposals over edited volumes.

Outside these time frames authors are welcome to submit to the publisher a.lockett[at]westminster.ac.uk but will be notified if funding has already been allocated and the prospective date for the next call for publication. Authors who have access to open access fee-funding (e.g. covered by research project funding, universities or other institutions) that can cover the fees for layout and production are welcome to contact the publisher outside of the submission dates, but should note selection is based only on grounds of quality and suitability for the series notwithstanding that the series wishes to welcome as many suitable titles as possible. We welcome submissions to our submissions system with one (exactly one) uploaded sample chapter. We can only accept suggestions for books written in English. For further details see the Proposal Guidance below or if you have questions about the publishing process email a.lockett[at]westminster.ac.uk.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE Monday 20 January 2020 23:59 BST. Submissions should be made via UWP’s book proposal submission system at https://uwp.rua.re

Any prior queries may be sent by e-mail to Andrew Lockett (University of Westminster Press Manager), A.Lockett[at]westminster.ac.uk. Submissions will no longer be accepted by email. Regardless of other contact, all proposals for consideration have to be presented via https://uwp.rua.re.

CRITICAL DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA STUDIES: AIMS AND SCOPE
The book series “Critical Digital and Social Media Studies” publishes books that critically study the role of the Internet, digital and social media in society and make critical interventions. Its publications analyse how power structures, digital capitalism, ideology, domination, social struggles shape and are shaped by digital and social media. They use and develop critical theories, are profoundly theoretical, and discuss the political relevance and implications of the studied topics. The book series understands itself as a critical theory forum for Internet and social media research that makes critical interventions into contemporary political topics in the context of digital and social media. It is also interested in publishing works that based on critical theory foundations develop and apply critical social media research methods that challenge digital positivism. It furthermore is interested in digital media ethics that are grounded in critical social theories and critical philosophy. The book series’ understanding of critical theory and critique is grounded in approaches such as critical political economy and Frankfurt School critical theory.

TOPICS
Example topics that the book series is interested in include: the political economy of digital and social media; digital and informational capitalism; digital labour; ideology critique in the age of social media; new developments of critical theory in the age of digital and social media; critical studies of advertising and consumer culture online; critical social media research methods; critical digital and social media ethics; working class struggles in the age of social media; the relationship of class, gender and race in the context of digital and social media; the critical analysis of the implications of big data, cloud computing, digital positivism, the Internet of things, predictive online analytics, the sharing economy, location- based data and mobile media, etc.; the role of classical critical theories for studying digital and social media; alternative social media and Internet platforms; the public sphere in the age of digital media; the critical study of the Internet economy; critical perspectives on digital democracy; critical case studies of online prosumption; public service digital and social media; commons-based digital and social media; subjectivity, consciousness, affects, worldviews and moral values in the age of digital and social media; digital art and culture in the context of critical theory; environmental and ecological aspects of digital capitalism and digital consumer culture. Of particular interest is new work in the area of critical media/communication studies in the context of digital media and authoritarianism/populism, feminist political economy, critical perspectives on digital industries and digital labour, Marxism and AI, digital commons/digital public services/public service Internet.

PROPOSAL GUIDANCE
If you would like to know if UWP is interested in a proposal you will receive the swiftest answer if you submit via the RUA system (https://uwp.rua.re). Authors/editors need to register and complete a questionnaire. Authors submitting to this call for the CDSMS series must upload one sample chapter to their submission. The following indicates in general terms what will be requested:

UWP proposals are to be presented in response to a questionnaire

Preview of UWP Book Proposal Questionnaire

Book Title     

Subtitle          

Submitting Author/Editor              

Title and subtitle of book   

Contact email          

Email of submitting author or editor only         

Institution/affiliation of submitting author or editor only

Full author and editor details and short biography (120 words maximum) 

Anticipated Completion Date       

Total wordlength    

Sample chapter        

Sample material is always useful to receive. Please attach to/upload with contents and chapter plan

Case for the book
Relation to wider academic fields and disciplines; this may also include author/editor’s detailing relevant previous publications and history of research underlying the book.

Longer summary
Overview of the book’s aims, maximum 500 words.

Contents and chapter plan
For each chapter please include the title, and a paragraph of description (at least half of the full the length of a journal abstract) about its content and coverage. If an edited volume please provide contributor affiliations and up to three sentences biography including their most significant and relevant publications. The chapter plan should include a proposed length for each chapter as well as total length inclusive of notes and apparatus and details of any appendices.

Readership and how to reach it
Please detail core readership and subject areas the book would appeal to and cover, and details of any tertiary audiences either in terms of general interest or other academic fields. Please indicate how readers in your field are best reached. What factors do you think are most relevant in terms of ensuring the book makes an impact? Where in particular in terms might specialist reviews or coverage be sought? Lastly identify any other important aspects relating to marketing coverage including conferences, proposed events that might be organised or email or social media channels that could be utilised.

Competing and related books
Offer an account of competing titles and books closest resembling that in your proposal. Where competition is not relevant indicate any books serving as role models (or anti role models) or what in the absence of a competing title is available to read in the field.

Additional requirements
If relevant please indicate any presentation preferences for typesetting or any production requirements for the book including use of illustration, data, specialist typography or colour printing. Any thoughts on presentation/book format that are important and specific to the project including use of copyright material of any kind including imagery or supplementary files.

Series proposals are peer-reviewed in accordance with standard university press practice via the series editor, editorial board members and additional external referees where appropriate.

PUBLISHED and FORTHCOMING IN THE SERIES (to early 2020)
Critical Theory of Communication: New Readings of Lukács, Adorno, Marcuse, Honneth and Habermas in the Age of the Internet Christian Fuchs

Knowledge in the Age of Digital Capitalism: An Introduction to Cognitive ­Materialism Mariano Zukerfeld

Politicizing Digital Space: Theory, the Internet, and Renewing Democracy Trevor Garrison Smith

Capital, State, Empire: The New American Way of Digital Warfare Scott Timcke

The Spectacle 2.0: Reading Debord in the Context of Digital Capitalism Edited by Marco Briziarelli and Emiliana Armano

The Big Data Agenda: Data Ethics and Critical Data Studies Annika Richterich

Social Capital Online: Alienation and Accumulation Kane X. Faucher

The Propaganda Model Today: Filtering Perception and Awareness Edited by Joan Pedro-Carañana, Daniel Broudy and Jeffery Klaehn

Critical Theory and Authoritarian Populism Edited by Jeremiah Morelock

Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis, and Alex Pazaitis

Bubbles and Machines: Gender, Information and Financial Crises Micky Lee

Cultural Crowdfunding: Platform Capitalism, Labour and Globalization Edited by Vincent Rouzé

Forthcoming

The Condition of Digitality: A Post-Modern ­Marxism for the Practice of Digital Life ( Robert Hassan

Incorporating the Digital Commons: Corporate Involvement in Free and Open Source Software Benjamin J. Birkinbine

Communication and Capitalism: A Critical Theory Christian Fuchs

EDITORIAL BOARD:
Dr Thomas Allmer, University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Prof Mark Andrejevic, Pomona College, USA
Dr Miriyam Aouragh, University of Westminster, UK
Charles Brown, University of Westminster, UK
Dr Eran Fisher, Open University of Israel
Dr Peter Goodwin, University of Westminster, UK
Prof Jonathan Hardy, University of East London, UK
Dr Kylie Jarrett, Maynooth University, Ireland
Dr Anastasia Kavada, University of Westminster, UK
Dr Maria Michalis, University of Westminster, UK
Dr Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Dr Vincent Mosco, Queens University, Canada
Prof Jack L Qiu, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dr Jernej Amon Prodnik, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Marisol Sandoval, City University London, UK
Dr Sebastian Sevignani, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, Germany
Dr Pieter Verdegem, University of Westminster

Critical Digital and Social Media Studies
www.uwestminsterpress.co.uk

Evacuation from Regent Street: All in it Together?

Evacuation from Regent Street: All in it Together?

In an extract from Mark Clapson’s new book The Blitz Companion: Aerial Warfare, Civilians and the City Since 1911 the experience of Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) students leaving London for the countryside are described. The book is available open access in all digital formats.

The illustration marks another theme of the book – the belated recognition of the sacrifice of women within the UK’s war effort; the monument in Whitehall to ‘Women of World War Two’ unveiled in 2005.

“The declaration of war on Germany by Chamberlain on 3 ­September 1939 was preceded by a mass evacuation of children from London and other large cities. Over four thousand children went overseas, but most were moved elsewhere in Britain to so-called ‘reception towns’ in safe areas away from bombing routes. In all over 3.5 million people, most of them children, were dispersed from the largest cities. From 1–2 September already rehearsed plans for evacuation were put into place across the country. Local authorities were responsible for organising this mass movement, coordinated from schools and other places of education.

The experiences of young men and women at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in the heart of London provide a fascinating case study of evacuation, and glimpses into the everyday perceptions of evacuees. The auxiliary Secondary School and Craft Schools at the Poly, located in other sites close to the base at Regent Street, provided occupational training and apprenticeships for children and teenagers. A breezy report in the Polytechnic Magazine for September 1940 on the evacuation of the Craft Schools was both proud and relieved at the safe removal of children, but it was clear the process was not as straightforward as it could have been:

From various sources, chiefly the wireless, the staff and pupils of the Craft Schools heard that at last it had happened, and that the once hypothetical evacuation was to be carried out. We duly assembled at the Great Portland Street Extension on Friday, September 1st, completely equipped with luggage and gas masks, the boys having been previously well informed as to the amount of luggage, etc., required. The boys were very cheerful and there were obvious signs of disappointment when we learnt from the LCC Evacuation Officer that it would be impossible to move us on that day. We were therefore told to go back home and return on the morrow at the same hour—8.30 a.m. The next day, Saturday, the numbers in our ranks had increased, and we moved off in earnest by bus from Oxford Circus to the Holborn Underground entrance. There were a few mothers to see the boys off, but the partings seemed quite cheerful, and in spite of the serious international situation quite a holiday spirit prevailed. At Holborn we were compelled to wait for some time, and in order to avoid congestion at the railway station we spent this time at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Southampton Row. We eventually entrained for Ealing Broadway, and on arrival, were speedily transferred to the train for ‘somewhere in England.’ We had a comfortable journey with plenty of room and you can imagine our delight when we learned that we were going in the vicinity of the famous Cheddar Gorge and right into the ‘Heart of Mendip’. We got out of the train at Cheddar Station, and after waiting some considerable time were conveyed by buses to our destination—Winscombe, a beautiful village nestling at the foot of the Mendip Hills.5

A later report on the experiences of the boys and girls coming to terms with life a long way from London, while generally upbeat, admitted that some schooling time was being lost. Young people in country towns or urban areas had more to stimulate them in common with the types of lives they had led in London, while those in small villages or hamlets had to make their own fun, and become more self-reliant, something viewed as a positive consequence of evacuation. The report then made a claim about social class mixing that became a key theme in the so-called ‘myth of the Blitz’:

Some of the boys are billeted in palatial homes, whilst others may be living in homes not quite up to the standard of their own, but all are fortunate in having comfortable dwellings with fairly modern conveniences. This will have the effect of showing how different classes of people live, and should be invaluable to them in later life, whether or not they become leaders in industry, professional men, or members of the working classes.5

Denied a normal full-time education, this was a kind of ‘Polytechnic of Life’ experience, increasing sensitivities across class divisions, while preparing the young for their future occupational roles in the British class system.

The nationwide evacuation scheme was voluntary, and ­working-class parents such as those of the young students at the Poly took advantage of the local authority educational schemes and the arrangements offered by the Poly itself. Middle-class parents, by contrast, sent their offspring to live with friends and relatives elsewhere in the country. The lack of compulsion in the evacuation process was symptomatic of the strength of democracy but also an internal weakness. By December 1939 many young people from all across Britain, not only from the Poly, had returned home for Christmas, often to the annoyance and frustration of the authorities who wished to keep them in the relative safety of the reception areas. The so-called ‘Phoney War’, a distinct lack of military action on the Home Front, explained why many people wanted to go back home. So too, of course, did homesickness and a longing to be with family and friends in the old neighbourhood. During the early months of 1940 many evacuees trickled back home. It would take the sea-borne heroics at Dunkirk in May, and the Battle of Britain in the spring and summer of 1940, to shake them out of their complacency”.

The Blitz Companion – here 3rd April

The Blitz Companion – here 3rd April

A new title by Mark Clapson is to be published on Wednesday the 3rd of April. We are welcoming its arrival at the University, 309 Regent Street, Boardroom from 18.00. The work of a number of years teaching and research, the book is uniquely comparative in looking at the experience of civilians in a number of countries. A fuller description is below.

The Blitz Companion offers a unique overview of a century of aerial warfare, its impact on cities and the people who lived in them. It tells the story of aerial warfare from the earliest bombing raids and in World War 1 through to the London Blitz and Allied bombings of Europe and Japan. These are compared with more recent American air campaigns over Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, the NATO bombings during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s and subsequent bombings in the aftermath of 9/11. 

Beginning with the premonitions and predictions of air warfare and its terrible consequences, the book focuses on air raids precautions, evacuation and preparations for total war, and resilience, both of citizens and of cities. The legacies of air raids, from reconstruction to commemoration, are also discussed. While a key theme of the book is the futility of many air campaigns, care is taken to situate them in their historical context. The Blitz Companion also includes a guide to documentary and visual resources for students and general readers. 

Uniquely accessible, comparative and broad in scope this book draws key conclusions about civilian experience in the twentieth century and what these might mean for military engagement and civil reconstruction processes once conflicts have been resolved. 

Mark Clapson was Professor of Social and Urban History, at the University of Westminster and is the author of Working-Class Suburb: Social Change on an English Council Estate, 1930–2010 (2012) and An Education in Sport: Competition, Communities and Identities at the University of Westminster since 1864 (2012). 

Event March 21st – Peer to Peer: A Commons Manifesto, book launch seminar

Event March 21st – Peer to Peer: A Commons Manifesto, book launch seminar

There is another way. Peer to peer and the commons …

A forthcoming CAMRI Research event this Thursday, for Peer to Peer: A Commons Manifesto by Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis and Alex Pazaitis researchers and activists in the world of P2P (Peer to Peer). Participants will discuss what is needed to create the transition to a commons economy and society and how it relates to the past and present as the book’s description outlines:

Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a more profound transformation of the fundamentals of our social life. As capitalism faces a series of structural crises, a new social, political and economic dynamic is emerging: peer to peer. What is peer to peer? Why is it essential for building a commons-centric future? How could this happen? These are the questions this book tries to answer. Peer to peer is a type of social relations in human networks, as well as a technological infrastructure that makes the generalization and scaling up of such relations possible. Thus, peer to peer enables a new mode of production and creates the potential for a transition to a commons-oriented economy.  

Peer to Peer will be available open access from the 21st of March on the University of Westminster Press website – DOI: 10.16997/book25. It is the latest title in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series from UWP.

To register for the event and view details see eventbrite.

Social Media Counters and Metrics: Measurement at all Costs?

Social Media Counters and Metrics: Measurement at all Costs?

‘The one question I keep returning to is whether we can dispense
with social media counters entirely’.

 Kane X. Faucher’s new book Social Capital Online (available open access in the CDSMS series from UWP) considers the dominant role of quantification in social media environments and how we end up competing for dubious forms of digital ‘social capital’. He explains:

An obsession with metrics pervades much of the private and public sector, and is paralleled on popular social media. It is the promise of metrics that see so many place an inviolable faith in their ability to increase efficiency, effectiveness offer ready tools for benchmarks and box-ticking. Worse still is the promise that metrics will facilitate better prediction and can be used as a directional planning tool. There is no doubt that measurement is indispensable in the sciences and engineering. There measurement is essential. The problem arises when metrics are applied widely to domains such as social media. When it comes to metrics, what we measure, how we measure, and why we measure it are equally essential questions. With social media, we have an abundance of metrics – some visible, others requiring some digging, and still others entirely invisible to the public.

A quick rundown makes this clear:

  1. Visible Metrics: On Facebook or other networks, it may seem easy to assign a value to any user by the number of friends or likes accumulated. It can be an easy way of determining popularity or relevance in a socially competitive field – a process not dissimilar from casting ballots regularly. Motives for why users assign a ‘like’ will vary widely as the reasons why people support a politician in elections. And yet, because of the presence of these visible metrics there are notable behavioural changes in the way some people operate on social media, being conspicuous in their online production, reputation management, and effectively campaigning for the most ‘votes’ on their content. But, unlike an election, there is no end date to the campaign; any sense of victory is fleeting. Users’ behaviour may adopt more risky behaviour in order to garner more attention, a higher ‘score.’  Businesses, try to increase their social media score believing that this will convert to customers, then sales. As a metric, this may be flawed or merely correlation.
  2. Less Visible Metrics: Services (some free, others paid) will provide loads of metrics on number of impressions, clickthroughs, etc. Google Analytics provides a welter of data on the demographics of visitors to a site, what operating systems they use, the flow-through of the pages users visit, and for how long. This quasi-cybernetic affordance can provide a website operator guidance by which to reconfigure parts of the website to optimize visits, longer stays, and improve the ‘experience.’ YouTube provides similar metrics notably CPM (clicks per thousand).Other metrics can also be calculated such as providing a dollar value on a social media account. Klout and other companies may tell us how much a person’s tweet is ‘worth’ and the overall value of the account itself. These are potential values, but it is unclear what they mean. Assigning a dollar value to a collectible item is usually a reflection of the market and what others are willing to pay; on social media, there is no sense of true exchange value whereby a user can sell their account or tweet. Sure, there are plenty of celebrities like Kim Kardashian who will charge a set fee for promoting a product or service on their social media accounts, and so perhaps that lip service endorsement can result in sales. But this is little different from traditional forms of celebrity endorsement in other media venues apart from it being digital and potentially reaching a wider audience.
  3. ‘Invisible’ Metrics: Facebook is able to automate the process of counting interactions and drill down into data that compares what you mention to your demographic information. These result in the creation of ‘buckets’ that businesses can access for money to better refine their target marketing. Algorithms simplify this process, but it is not an exceptionally sophisticated one despite the conspiratorial chatter about how we are being ‘controlled’ by social media. Obviously there are behaviour-shaping elements on social media that strongly resemble conditioning. There is also a strong availability heuristic at play in how these social media sites decide on our behalf what content we will see in the newsfeed, which may keep us sequestered in our filter bubbles. It was not long ago when Facebook conducted its own behavioural experiment in selecting a number of users (without their knowledge or explicit consent) and showing them positive or negative posts while observing the behaviour of those users.

Figures – Donald Trump to name one – may have tens of millions of followers on Twitter, but it would be a mistake to believe every one of them endorses his views or supports him. A good number may follow his tweets out of public interest, for comedy, to troll him, or because their job (such as being in the media) requires it. Sentiment analysis on engagement may help to understand if those followers are supporters or not. Despite all of this assigning a value on the basis of a raw score is flawed because there is no consensus on what we mean by value. It is as rough and ready as saying another human being can be given a value on the basis of how much money they have in her or his bank account.

Algorithms: Mystery but no magic

As a predictive tool, social media counters are far from perfect. What is popular now will not necessarily remain so. At one point #Kony2012 was the top trending hashtag on Twitter, but the fortunes of that organization changed quickly. And yet metrics are considered an essential ingredient in recommender systems to get us to purchase similar products based on the purchasing habits of those who have been placed in a similar data bucket. When the term social media algorithm is mentioned there is a kind of magical understanding, that it occurs in a black box heavily guarded by complex streams of code.

Worse, it isn’t even scientific, but a kind of pseudoscience. The sorcery involved is really covering the fuzziness of the operation. It also completely disregards the old GIGO principle (garbage in/garbage out) as it does not measure or produce anything all that meaningful. There is absolutely nothing mysterious or magical about algorithms. Running your finances through a spreadsheet would quality as an algorithm. A simple Turing Test is an algorithm. A good algorithm is a feedback loop that does not require human intervention. It would be an exercise in futility to task a human being to calculate on the fly the trajectory of a missile in order to shoot it down. GPS operates as a feedback system, whereas the ABS on your car is a feed-forward system using actuators.

The algorithms in use by those like Facebook are not feedback loops, but feed-forward. They will assume some models of human behaviour, but they cannot fully calculate the variance between groups. What they sell in terms of data is limited and not a feedback tool for making useful predictions. As such, it is unstable and its results hit and miss. The dream of predicting the behaviour of crowds is an old one, and it continues to thrive in excitable statements such as Google’s that human beings are programmable. Our behaviour can be shaped through persuasive techniques, but the outcomes are not foolproof.

At best, these algorithms aim to recognize patterns, and then take action on the basis of those patterns. This is little different than actuarial tables to determining insurance premiums on the basis of past data where someone who is of a certain age, gender, location, etc., is matched against comparative mortality statistics. Such tables require frequent adjustment, but they assume in advance a set of conditions in order to calculate the premium. In the case of social media assumptions are applied to groups who share some characteristics but the process is akin to throwing something at the wall to see if it will stick. If, say, the algorithm detects a pattern where 20 year old females are more likely to purchase a Mac as opposed to a Microsoft computer, the ads in the sidebar will aim to reflect that pattern in order to produce that result by increasing its probability. It is a little like adjusting the controls of an experiment to arrive at the result one desires.

One analogy that may serve to illustrate this operation would be an assembly line where, for example, every 10th widget is inspected for quality control. There is a ‘model widget’ that is applied, and if a defective one is found the assembly line is shut down and then the cause of the defect is investigated. Applied to social media, if the ad is not resonating with the targeted group, the algorithm is reconfigured. This process can be better refined by getting user input, such as with Google Ad choices where we have the opportunity to say whether the ad was relevant to us. The algorithms at play on social media assume we conform to the model widget, pending which bucket we’ve been placed in. There is nothing sinister or spooky about this kind of machine learning. What is objectionable is how all our interactions are logged, tabulated, and then syndicated across our networks behind a gamified environment where our labour is obfuscated as leisure activity in a high trust milieu. Rather than a McLuhan ‘global village,’ the glowingly optimistic pronouncements about social media in its shining ubiquity is more aptly viewed as a Potemkin Village where so much social activity and connectedness obscures the very real power dynamics of capitalism, data capture, and cutthroat competition for attention and value determined by sheer numbers alone.

Only a Numbers Game

The one question I keep returning to is whether we can dispense with social media counters entirely. As much as it may provide a temporary ego-boost, jockeying for more ‘points’ seems to undercut the true value of generating online social capital: the ability to organize, mobilize, share, and connect with others in a social venue.  To run up our scores is really to do the work of social media sites, with these scores as the token payment for our labour. Can we not appreciate the intrinsic value of sharing our content without judging it by the number of people who clicked or tapped their approval? Can we make use of social media without so quickly rushing to commodify and brand ourselves? The answer to those questions is certainly yes, but it is something we would have to elect to do while putting pressure on popular social media platforms to simply remove these counting features.

Whenever we engage in the games of online social capital on a purely numerical basis, we may be feeding egos with token scores, but we are also feeding the machines to better refine its pattern recognition to restrict our choices and persuade us to support particular viewpoints or purchase a product or service. It becomes clear that the incentive for including these counters serves the purpose of increasing the time we engage in social media, while masking the labour we perform behind a kind of competitive game.

Dr Kane X. Faucher teaches at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University, Ontario, Canada

 

ADVERTISING FOR THE HUMAN GOOD: Call for abstracts, papers (WPCC)

ADVERTISING FOR THE HUMAN GOOD: Call for abstracts, papers (WPCC)

Issue Editor: Carl W. Jones Senior Lecturer in PR and Advertising at the School of Media and Communication, University of Westminster

Advertising, and public relations have a potential for motivating progressive behaviours in the public via the mass media. From Edward Bernays 1929 effort to promote women’s aspirations via a campaign to smoke, by branding cigarettes as feminist ‘Torches of Freedom’, (Bernays, 2004) to the global brand P&G creating a TV commercial to publicise the discussion of ‘toxic masculinity’ (Gillette, 2019), branded commodities have been inspiring changes in human behaviours to resonate with consumers. This method is not limited to brands that rely on the neoliberal capitalist system. In 2011 the Colombian Ministry of Defence used ‘ambient marketing’ to convince the so-called terrorist organisation FARC to lay down their weapons and come home for Christmas (Ministry of Defense, 2011). But who decides what changes will benefit which segment of society? 

Brands have been appropriating the practice of advertising to create change, with the objective to generate more sales, and deliver profits to their shareholders. Recently having a social conscience is becoming increasingly important – especially with a millennial audience who care more than ever whether a brand’s values align with their own. In nation states run by other ideologies such as communism, advertising is used by governments to educate publics, such as China’s one baby per family policy. This policy has recently changed, and the government has to re-educate over 1 billion people, to increase the falling birth rate. Can a government sponsored integrated campaign inspire a switch in thinking? Instances might include health campaigns, AIDs, drink driving and wearing seatbelts.

This special issue invites the most recent theoretical interventions and empirical research that explores how advertising has the potential for motivating progressive behaviours in the public via the mass media. 

We define advertising as a designed communication that reinterprets signs and symbols in order to persuade while ‘the mass media’ includes a broad range of communication platforms, from paid and earned; analogue to digital networks; and guerrilla activations, to name a few.

We welcome papers on the subject of (but not limited to):

– Corporate social responsibility

– Consumer behaviour 

– Integrated campaigns and the convergence of Advertising and PR

– Advertising reflects society or influences society?

– Models of brand communication 

– Post truth and advertising

– Political Economy of advertising

– Ethics in Advertising

– Ideology and advertising 

– Role of artificial neural networks, machine learning and AI 

– Corporate social responsibility

– Advertising, activism and NGO’s in behaviour change

– Can Graphic Design save lives?

– The Role of Neuroscience

– PR vs. advertising. Which is more effective in promoting behavioural change?

– Environment-related advertising

– Can political advertising be applied for the human good?

Deadline for abstracts:
Please submit a 150-250 word abstract with keywords to WPCC’s submission system with 6 keywords by Monday 3 February 2020 by registering at https://www.westminsterpapers.org/register/ then submitting from https://www.westminsterpapers.org/author/login/

You will receive feedback regarding encouragement to submit a paper or feedback from editors/WPCC around the 12th February 2020

Deadline for full papers:
Full papers are expected by 31 March 2020 submitted to the WPCC system. All papers will go through double peer-review. 

Publication date: June-July 2020

WPCC is an open access journal and there are no fees for contributors. Published by the University of Westminster Press in conjunction with CAMRI. All content in this issue and in its archive is available free to read. 

References
Bernays, Edward L. (2004) Propaganda/Edward Bernays; with an introduction by Mark  Crispin Miller. Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing. 

Gillette (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYaY2Kb_PKI&feature=emb_logo(last accessed 10 Jan 2020) 

Ministry of Defense. (2011) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhNaZ0w7eEA (last accessed 10 Jan 2020)

Leicester University – panel and book launch: CULTURAL CROWDFUNDING

Leicester University – panel and book launch: CULTURAL CROWDFUNDING

CULTURAL CROWDFUNDING: Platform Capitalism, Labour and Globalization (editor Vincent Rouzé) will be discussed at a panel and book launch at Leicester University on the 22nd January 2020.
Speakers: Vincent Rouzé and Jacob Matthews (Paris 8)
Respondents: Alberto Cossu and Athina Karatzogianni (MCS, University of Leicester)
Moderator: Paula Serafini (CAMEO, University of Leicester)

Date and Time
Wed, January 22, 2020
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT

Location
Lecture Theatre
SCHOOL OF MEDIA, COMMUNICATION & SOCIOLOGY
132 NEW WALK
BANKFIELD HOUSE
LEICESTER LE1 7JA

Further details and to register see eventbrite:

Details of the open access book or to view and download visit the book page

Titles in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies are published by the University of Westminster Press.

Digital … transcends the human scale: The Condition of Digitality published

Digital … transcends the human scale: The Condition of Digitality published

Robert Hassan’s new book The Condition of Digitality is the latest title to be released in the ‘Critical Digital and Social Media Studies‘ series. In this extract from the introduction in which he reflects on changes of outlook since David Harvey first wrote and published The Condition of Postmodernity, Hassan suggests – to use the words of the book’s subtitle – how the digital requires a new perspective from ‘analogue’ humans,that is – ‘A Post-Modern Marxism for the Practice of Digital Life’.

‘Digital machines and their logic are (in the operation of their logic) like nothing we have ever seen before. Everything previously, going back to the dawn of our species and our drift toward technology invention and use, was some kind of analogue technology. From the wheel to the radio signal, and from writing to television, analogue technology fashioned our world and fashioned us, making possible such human-scaled processes as knowledge and communication, cities and institutions, Enlightenment and modernity, conceptions of time and space. Digitality changes all these and more, starting with the total transcending of the human scale. Time and space are now different categories of perception, condensed into immediacy and acceleration at the general level through, for example, the now-ubiquitous smartphone. Such drastic changes in scale and perception rebound back upon the analogue legacies in the realms of knowledge, reason, modernity and so on—and we struggle with the contradictions inherent within their unavoidable interactions across economy, society, culture and politics.

Seen in this way, digital technology and digitality compel us to think hard not just about the digital, but also about that which it supplants—the analogue logic and the relationship with analogue technology that made possible our pre-digital world. We are driven also to think about where the human stands in relation to analogue and digital. Some scattered work was done in this regard in the 1980s and 1990s, but all of it tentative, and none of it from a Marxist perspective that, like Harvey, makes salient social change and the socialist project. The hypothesis I construct here concludes that we are, ontologically speaking, analogue beings from an analogue universe that evolved from out of our species’ drift toward tool-use to become homo sapiens. Some scattered work was done here too, but only suggestive, not systematic, and not with a view to conclusions that had ramifications for the present conjuncture in terms of political economy or techno-capitalism. Meanwhile, digitality spread from a nascent but obvious technological ‘revolution’ around the time of Harvey’s research for Postmodernity, to become a whole way of life—infiltrating the practice of daily life and colonising the consciousness that governs the meanings that constitute practice. It became a central element of culture, in other words; culture that is now networked and global. What this means is that the elements of Postmodernity that Harvey takes as empty ideologies—a globalising neoliberalism and the cultural postmodernity that expresses its superficiality—have become embedded, through digitality, into the practice that constitutes how everyday life is now increasingly lived and understood (or not understood).’

Crowdfunding for culture: Origins of a new system or no alternative at all?

Crowdfunding for culture: Origins of a new system or no alternative at all?

What follows from decisions to outsource modes of creation and funding to consumers? This is the question posed by a new open access book –CULTURAL CROWDFUNDING: Platform Capitalism, Labour and Globalization that considers how platforms are used to organize cultural labour following a logic of suggestion rather than overt injunction.

Four key areas are considered: the history of crowdfunding as a system; whose interests crowdfunding may serve; the implications for digital labour and lastly crowdfunding’s interface with globalization and contemporary capitalism. The book concludes with an assessment of claims that crowdfunding can democratize culture.

CONTENTS
1. Introduction Vincent Rouzé 2. Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding: The Origins of a New System? Vincent Rouzé 3. Far from an Alternative: New Cultural Intermediaries Vincent Rouzé 4. Participatory Cultural Platforms and Labour Jacob Matthews and Vincent Rouzé 5. Globalization and the Logics of Capitalism Jacob Matthews, Stéphane Costantini and Alix Bénistant 6. General Conclusion  Vincent Rouzé   Index

EDITOR
Vincent Rouzé is Associate Professor of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Paris 8 and a member of the Centre for Media, Technology and Internationalization Studies (Cemti). Contributors: Jacob Matthews, Stéphane Costantini, Alix Bénistant.

Published open access by the University of Westminster Press. Published 29 November 2019

This book is published in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies Series

FORMAT
128 pages paperback 229 x 152mm
978-1-912656-38-7    £19.99

OPEN ACCESS 
PDF, EPub and kindle versions available Free From uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site books: PDF 978-1-912656-39-4; ePub 978-1-912656-40-0 Kindle 978-1-912656-41-7: DOI:10.16997/book34

Media and Communications Study Skills – new title

Media and Communications Study Skills – new title

The University of Westminster Press launched its first title for MA students on study skills in media and communications courses. Author Doug Specht, Director of Teaching and Learning School of Media and Communications at the University of Westminster explained the origins of The Media and Communications Study Skills Guide at a-well attended event at Westminster’s Harrow Campus. The book highlights all sorts of study advice from listening to referencing, seminars to writing essays and to conjuring up a research question for the dreaded MA dissertation.

It includes numerous hacks and tips, graphics, tasks, planners, tasks and guides to such matters as notetaking.

Here – to get a sense of a sense of the flavour of the book – is the author’s advice on where to work:

Think about where you are working; try not to work in bed, so you have a separate space to rest. Consider whether you prefer working in the library, the kitchen table, your desk or in a café. Once you know your best working space (this might be different for different types of work), stick to this – I like to do emails and admin work in public spaces, but I need music to write and silence to edit, so I ensure I move around when working on different parts of a project. Also, think about the light and temperature in the room you are working in. Consider spending a little money on a good lamp – Michel Foucault, the French philosopher and social theorist, used to take his own to libraries and lectures. You should also break tasks down into smaller chunks or sub-tasks – there are some pages to help you do this at the end of this book. You can also use technology to help you with this, there are loads of task management apps available, although trying them all out can become a form of productive procrastination, so be careful!” 

Read the book, purchase in print or download from the University of Westminster Press.