OBS* (Observatorio) 2023 Special Issue Announcement - Call for proposals


Platformisation of News and Interactions: Regional Contexts of Crisis in Trust

Call for abstracts

In a context in which journalism is increasingly being accessed through social media (Splichal & Dahlgren, 2016) and in which traditional gatekeeping is diminished, the processes of journalistic production allegedly become more democratic, opening themselves up to contributions from wider society. The mechanisms of participation, increasingly dependent on new technologies and digital platforms that are accessible to the generality of citizens, foster the widespread voicing of personal opinion, with concomitant distancing from professional journalistic ethics routine, based on traditional norms of impartiality and the collection of verifiable facts. The dilution of distinction between facts and opinions is indeed one of the hallmarks of an algorithmic culture that capitalises on users’ ability to drive content and redefine the originally programmed flow (van Dijck & Poell, 2013).

These transformations that derive from the use of new media are threefold. Firstly, they have bearing on journalism, through a media logic (Strömbäck, 2008) that is essentially commercial and based on what appeals to the highest number. Secondly, they impact on democracy and how politics is performed and enacted (Moffitt & Tormey, 2014). Thirdly, they reconfigure public opinion through mobilisation effected more on the basis of emotions, such as reactionary anger (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2018), than that of rational public debate. But this is not necessarily negative, taking into account that the fear pervasive of the television era (cf.van Zoonen, 2004), that of audiences being reduced to passivity, is countered by an apparent return of publics. These are ‘affective publics’ (Papacharissi, 2015), who ostensibly have greater social awareness for ongoing conflicts and capacity for connectivity and solidarity.

The democratic manifestation of publics stands in contrast with the global platform ecosystem, according to which a reduced number of big-tech companies are dominant in the worldwide distribution of data (van Dijck, Poell & de Waal, 2018), with social, economic, political, cultural and interpersonal implications. This means that the celebrated globalisation agenda that marked the rise of the platform society is indeed regional in scope. Dominant regional players take the lead in the datafication of social transactions and daily life, thus impacting on the dynamics through which identities are discussed, negotiated. and constructed online. The associated commodification of data resulting from classification practices allowed by social media architecture can feed into political processes (e.g. Cambridge Analytica scandal case), allowing for the delivery of customised products that cater to – and reinforce – consumer preferred habits and behaviours.

Traditional institutions of representative democracy tend to be characterised by a deficit of voice (Couldry, 2008) and are increasingly unable to truly represent citizens, culminating in sub- (or post-) politicisation (Beck, 1997). While successful in circumventing these tendencies, social media have nonetheless contributed to widening a gap in the intersubjective domain, concerning issues such as hate speech, polarisation, and the echoing effects of fake news. The connection between individuals and the norms of reciprocity and trust that could ensue from those connections (Couldry, 2004) stand on shaky ground. Politics, the economy, social and environmental issues cannot distance themselves from a generalised crisis in trust that impacts the exercise of traditional authority and transforms the status of public opinion and publics.

This Special Issue aims to explore topics of common concern in a globalised but regionally-inflected world as they unfold on social media platforms, in a context of widespread crisis of traditional institutional authority. We seek to inquire into the extent to which platformed interactions impact on interpretative, representational, discursive and rhetorical practices, shaping public opinion and the formation of citizenship. Comparative research, focusing on different regions, and complementary perspectives on economic, political, social challenges, encompassing ecology and health, are particularly welcome.

We invite proposals that address (but are not limited to) the following themes:
  • differences that stand out between countries in sharing and discussing issues pertinent to citizenship
  • the logics of platforms that impact media use and sharing
  • agents and issues that are prominent in social media discussions, involving important regional players in the globalised arena
  • subjects which are singled out as preferential regionalised topics of discussion on social media
  • instances that move social media debates towards and away from cosmopolitan encounters
  • relations and tensions between legacy media and alternative digital practices: voices that resonate, voices that are invoked and withdrawn
  • appropriation and incorporation of social media affordances by social media users in their content production
This OBS* Special Issue results from the EUMEPLAT Project (European media platforms: assessing positive and negative externalities for European culture), funded by the Horizon 2020 SC6 - Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies, and coordinated by Prof. Andrea Miconi (Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione – IULM, Italy).      


  • Beck, U. (1997). The Reinvention of Politics: Rethinking Modernity in the Global Social Order, trans. M. Ritter. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Couldry, N. (2008). Mediatization or Mediation? Alternative Understandings of the Emergent Space of Digital Storytelling. New Media & Society, 10(3): 373-391.
  • Couldry, N. (2004). The productive “consumer” and the dispersed “citizen”. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1): 21-32.
  • Moffitt, B. and Tormey, S. (2014). Rethinking Populism. Political Studies, 62: 381-397.
  • Papacharissi, Z. (2015). Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Splichal, S. & Dahlgren, P. (2016). Journalism between de-professionalisation and democratisation. European Journal of Communication, 31(1): 5-18.
  • Strömbäck, J. (2008) Four Phases of Mediatization: An Analysis of the Mediatization of Politics. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 13(3): 228-246.
  • Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2018). Media Coverage of Shifting Emotional Regimes: Donald Trump’s Angry Populism. Media, Culture & Society, 40(5): 766-778.
  • van Dijck, J., Poell, T. & de Waal, M. (2018) The Platform Society: Public Values in a Connective World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • van Dijck, J. & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding Social Media Logic. Media and Communication, 1(1): 2-14.
  • van Zoonen, L. (2004). Imagining the Fan Democracy. European Journal of Communication, 19(1): 39-52.

Guest editors: 

Cláudia Álvares and Mehmet Ali Üzelgün, ISCTE-IUL Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal.


Potential contributors should send a 300-word proposal in English and short bio to guest editors Cláudia Álvares (claudia.alvares@iscte-iul.pt) and Mehmet Ali Üzelgün (mali.uzelgun@iscte-iul.pt) by no later than February 27, 2023. Decisions will be communicated by March 27, 2023. Acceptance of abstracts to be developed into invited papers does not guarantee acceptance in the special issue. The deadline for article drafts is July 15, 2023. All invited articles will be sent out for anonymous peer review.