Special Issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics
Deadline: December 15, 2019
Guest editors: Erik Bucy (firstname.lastname@example.org), Texas Tech University Jungseock Joo (email@example.com), University of California at Los Angeles
Images are both ubiquitous and consequential in contemporary politics. The rise of images in politics parallels the rise of images in society as icons of socio-political messaging, vessels of persuasive intent, and efficient carriers of social information for citizens of increasingly harried societies. From television coverage of campaigns and elections to visual memes and images of leaders circulated on social media, visual portrayals shape perceptions of the political world. When used strategically, visual portrayals hold the capacity to frame issues, candidates, and causes in a particular light and affect the acceptance or rejection of social policies. As representations of public opinion and leadership, political images influence issue understanding and motivate citizens to action.
Political visuals are potent in part because they do not require conventional literacy to apprehend and operate at both an individual and cultural level. From an information processing perspective, political images are highly efficient carriers of social and symbolic information that is quickly assessed, rapidly judged, and readily remembered. In news coverage, candidate portrayals and event depictions may crystallize sentiment among the viewing public and alternately inspire increased involvement or disenchantment with politics. Culturally, images can act as icons of social solidarity or political isolation, serving to mainstream or marginalize individuals, groups, and causes. The polysemic quality of images opens them to diverse interpretation, depending on the viewer’s orientation.
As forms of information, political images are not only open to interpretation but are also susceptible to digital manipulation. Image shading, facial blending, digital editing, and other alterations of political materials can have persuasive effects on audiences, raising troubling ethical concerns. More recently, the mass spread of “deepfakes”, i.e., manipulated video recordings, threatens to undermine the authenticity of recorded candidate communication and further confuse unsuspecting viewers, already buffeted by fabricated visual memes and text-based disinformation campaigns.
These and related considerations make the systematic study of political visuals and their effects necessary and urgent. Despite renewed interest in visual analysis within political communication, images remain an understudied feature of the contemporary political media landscape. This special issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics therefore invites original research conducted in any methodological tradition that fits the theme of “Visual Politics.” In this special issue, we hope to highlight new possibilities for theory development, methodological innovation, and cross-national approaches to advance the study of visual political communication.
- Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The influence of political images in digital campaigns, including comparisons between online messaging, social media strategies, and more traditional forms of political advertising
- The role of visual messaging in disinformation efforts, whether used to confuse, incite resentment, or demotivate potential voter or citizen involvement
- Computational analysis of large-scale visual datasets to detect patterns of coverage or behavior not evident in smaller, hand-coded projects
- Integrated or comparative analysis of multimodal cues in political messages and their synergistic or differential impacts on viewer perceptions
- Visual analysis of protest and collection action, including visual framing of activism or demonstrations as well as visual memes circulated on social media
- Cross-national comparisons of visual news framing of politics or protest and its reception by audiences
- Viewer reception of newer visual technologies such as 360-degree video cameras to depict campaign events, demonstrations, marches, or other collective actions
- Visual depictions of populist and fringe political actors, including signature gestures and nonverbal displays, expressive range, or performative repertoires
- Effects of nonverbal aggression, norm violations, and other transgressive candidate behavior on viewers of political programming
- Visual measures of negative advertising, incivility, “in your face”-style of candidate interaction, or other normatively fraught political communication styles
- Visual analysis of hate speech and white nationalism, including identifiable signs and symbols as identified by the Anti-Defamation League and other watchdogs
- The role of viewer orientations (e.g., ideology, partisanship, political interest, age cohort, moral outlook, geographical situatedness, issue attitudes) in shaping political image interpretations and message efficacy
- The role of visual content in explaining patterns of news sharing on social media
- The use of visuals in emerging genres of political campaign communication, whether mini-documentaries, mash-up advertising, candidate-generated videos, or political selfies.
Manuscript submissions for this special issue are due on 15 December 2019.
Please submit your work through our online submission portal and ensure that the first line of the cover letter states: “Manuscript to be considered for the special issue on Visual Politics”. Manuscripts should follow the IJPP submission guidelines. Submissions will be subject to a double-blind peer review process and must not have been published, accepted for publication, or under consideration for publication elsewhere.
Authors interested in submitting their work are encouraged to contact the guest editors, Erik Bucy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jungseock Joo (email@example.com) with questions.
- Paper submissions: 15 December 2019
- First decision: 15 February 2020
- Paper revisions: 15 April 2020
- Final decision: 15 May 2020
- Online publication: July 2020
- Print publication: October 2020