CfP: Panel: Automated social-media bots and the non-human: opening a dialogue between Political Communication and Science and Technology Studies

Call for papers now open for the 11th Annual Science in Public Conference, 10th-12th July, at the University of Sheffield. #SIPsheff17

Information and submission portal here

Deadline: April 18th

Notification of acceptance: April 26th

Panel Organisers

Declan McDowell-Naylor – New Political Communication Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London

Samantha Bradshaw – D.Phil. Candidate, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University

Gillian Bolsover – Researcher and DPhil Candidate, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University

Call for Panel Papers

The social and political effects of new media, social networks and technological innovation are important and pressing areas of academic inquiry for both Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Political Communication scholarship. However, interdisciplinary work between these two fields of study is uncommon, despite many confluences in theoretical and methodological approaches. This panel seeks to open a dialogue between STS and Political Communication scholarship. We offer to do so in the context of an emergent area of inquiry in Political Communication: the rise of automated social-media bots and algorithmically-controlled communication.

In recent years, Political Communication scholarship has responded to some of the empirical challenges it has faced by adopting conceptual themes and approaches from STS (in particular from Actor-Network Theory), such as in Chadwick’s Hybrid Media System (2013) and Kleis Nielsen’s Ground Wars (2012). As a sub-field of Political Science, Political Communication theory opens up new opportunities to engage with STS’s desire to “promote conversation of the conceptions of politics that animate social studies of science and technology” (Brown, 2015,p.3) and speaks to the ‘engaged program’ of STS that is “converging on the democratisation of technoscience” (Sismondo, 2008, p.21).

We invite papers on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Understanding the conceptual applicability of STS to other fields, and in particular the success of ANT
  • How ‘social-media bots’ can be and/or are understood by STS scholars, especially as non-human actors?
  • What it means for communication to be ‘political’ – how can this be challenged?
  • Likewise, what are the predominant conceptions of politics in STS, and how can they be challenged?
  • Why do both STS and Political Communication place such normative value on democracy?
  • The conceptual, methodological, and empirical horizon of STS – what’s coming next?