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Call for Conference: Sports communication and social justice

17.01.2019 09:25 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

May 24, 2019

Institute on Disability and Public Policy at American University, Washington (USA)

Deadline: January 21, 2019

Sponsoring divisions: Sports Communication, and Activism, Communication and Social Justice

Organisers: Dr Dan Jackson, Dr Emma Pullen, Prof Michael Silk (Bournemouth University) and Dr Filippo Trevisan (American University, Washington)

Keynote speaker: Prof Marie Hardin (Penn State)

Media sport is a highly celebrated constituent of popular culture that often intersects with shifting political, economic, technological and cultural conditions. This context creates tensions regarding issues of power and justice, particularly where media representations are framed around normative or ‘accepted’ production values, entrenched practices or financial imperatives by dominant organisations that can contribute to the symbolic stereotyping of marginalised groups.

At the same time, leading athletes from traditionally marginalized groups have been able to seize on their visibility to highlight issues of inequality and discrimination through innovative and highly symbolic forms of protest, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s Black Power Salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest in 2016. In recent years, these iconic moments have sparked a flurry of debate on social media, where communities have coalesced around hashtags such as #takingaknee and the U.S. women soccer team’s high profile “Equal Play. Equal Pay” campaign. While legacy media organizations continue to play an important role in how these debates are framed, they have also become a catalyst for contributions from a range of actors including politicians, grassroots groups, and global brands interested in sponsorship deals.

The rapidly evolving sport media industry and the changing face of mediated sport production therefore continues to raise original critical questions in new emerging contexts.

This one-day preconference pays attention to issues of sport, representation, power and social justice. The preconference is sponsored by the ICA Interest Groups for Sports Communication, and Activism, Communication and Social Justice, but we welcome submissions that span the disciplinary interests of ICA and beyond. Crossing disciplinary boundaries – the theme of the 2019 ICA conference – is encouraged in proposed papers.

We welcome theoretical and empirical inquiries that examine the following areas and other relevant topics:

  • The conditions that impinge on production, and the place and thoughts of cultural producers in articulating and dis-articulating fields of representation
  • The emergence, resistance and contestation of new sport cultures via mainstream and alternative sport media platforms
  • The framing, marketing and production of dominant cultural narratives in the context of a neoliberalised enterprise sport media culture
  • The dynamics of public opinion and audience meaning-making with respect to sport, politics and social justice
  • The negotiation of identity politics in sport media representation, in particular, issues of (in)visibility (and resistance) of marginalised, non-normative groups who remain mostly under-represented in mainstream sport media (e.g. gender, race, disability, sexuality)
  • The use of sporting platforms as a vehicle for social justice campaigns by athletes, grassroots groups, and other actors
  • The role of nationalism, representations of the ‘national normative body’ and ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson, 1983) through sport media

Outputs from the preconference: We are in discussion with relevant journals for a special issue on the conference topic. If successful, submissions for the conference will be considered and full papers invited in September 2019.

Submission procedure

Please send proposals for 15 minute paper presentations through this google form no later than 21 January 2019. Abstracts are limited to 4000 characters including spaces (approx. 500 words).

Contributors will be selected by peer review, and will be notified of the outcome of their proposal by 1 February 2019. Authors are expected to attend the preconference and present in person.

All participants – whether speaking or not – must register and pay fees. Registration costs (including coffee breaks and lunch buffet) will be approximately 50 USD for presenters and non-presenters. We will also have discounted rates for graduate students. To register, participants need to go to and register online as part of their main ICA conference registration, or as a stand-alone registration. As spaces are limited, priority will be given to those accepted for presentation.

Key dates:

  • 21 January 2019. Deadline for paper submission.
  • 1 February 2019. Paper proposers notified of decision by conference committee.
  • 1 April 2019. Deadline for preconference registration.
  • 24 May 2019. Preconference starts in Washington DC.



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