Theme: Reimagining the Digital Future

Photo: Tsinghua Art Museum by Mark Lent

Building Inclusiveness, Respect and Reciprocity

Also see the Call for proposals

At the critical juncture of the second decade of the 21st century, the world is facing tremendous challenges. More than three decades of cultural, economic and communication globalization have created sharp income and wealth inequities, a divisive international community, dysfunctional media, an increasingly fragmented digital culture and an accelerating environmental crisis. We witness growing populism and protectionism and a dissolving consensus on global engagement and international collaboration. We see deepening technological contestation in digital media and artificial intelligence between the world’s two economic powerhouses. We also witness a sharp decline of the quality of national and international information flows as a result of widespread misinformation facilitated by social media. 

These developments pose urgent questions and challenges for media and communications scholars. What are the reasons for the division, gaps and fragmentation we now see? What roles have digital media communication played in these developments at both the local and global levels? What values should inform our proposals for addressing them?

This year’s conference aims to respond to those challenges by reexamining the roles and patterns of global communication while including local voices, seeking critical reflections on the relationship between them, and exploring feasible agendas for a shared digital future based on inclusiveness, respect and reciprocity.

In the context of growing divisions between elites and citizens, the economically secure and marginalised, mainstream and minority cultures, and intensified political polarization, calls for greater inclusiveness of different voices in the media and equality of access and opportunities, become even more pressing. As researchers we need a more comprehensive understanding of the the factors promoting and impeding inclusiveness in the ‘legacy’ print and audio-visual media media domestically and globally and the roles played by existing and emerging digital media.

Having a public voice and opportunities for expression, however, does not in itself guarantee that diverse contributions to a common culture will be listened to attentively or treated with respect. IAMCR 2020 addresses respect for both diversities and shared values. Respect embodies respect for local cultural experiences and developmental models as well as respect for human dignity and international law and institutions. It embodies respect for role of ethics in developing the digital technology and for the safety and security of personal data and privacy. Exploring these issues requires us to reconsider to what extent the current global communication and technological landscapes have facilitated these dimensions of respect for diverse voices, experiences and models; and to ask what communicative values and goals would guaranteed the in the future.

Promoting inclusiveness and respect are essential preconditions for (re)imagining and developing a shared digital future that challenges and transcends political, religious, and cultural boundaries. But pursuing this goal also requires a commitment to reciprocity based on relations between public, governments and business communities rooted in a shared a commitment to inclusiveness, respect and avoiding exploitation or exacerbating divides and conflicts.

Organised by two leading Chinese universities in Beijing and Suzhou, two ancient capitals mixed with the chic of postmodern metropolis, IAMCR 2020 is set to bring together different perspectives on how multi-stakeholders of the global and local communication and media spaces negotiates among heterogeneous communities and institutions in the hope for building an inclusive, harmonious and respectful digital future. Bringing IAMCR to China offers members a unique opportunity to access analysis and commentary on the China’s experience of employing media and digital communication technology.