2019. Communities, Audiences, Publics

June 08, 2022

7th Annual Conference
Time: April 16–18, 2019
Place: St.Petersburg, Russia
Working language: English


Theme for 2019: Communities, Audiences, Publics

In the recent decades, proliferation of communicative channels, including digital ones, has led to fragmentation of mass communication and its overarching audiences. Digitalization, on one hand, has brought on stage new audience constellations aligned along new societal cleavages – the process that is often framed negatively in academic literature, as it potentially contributes to social disintegration in the absence of common information denominators. On the other hand, the boom on the market provides numerous opportunities to rethink relations between media and their audiences, focusing on constructing consumer, political, and/or cultural communities around media product on all levels, from hyperlocal to transnational.

In rethinking social groups as audiences and/or publics, one can go even further. When people are exposed to trans-border and multi-channel information flows, it is a person, not a group, who increasingly becomes the ultimate informational crossroads, forming a highly personal and hardly repeatable media diet. How do media survive upon highly individualized media consumption repertoires? Is there a balance between targeting masses and user-centricity? How do we turn a communicatively diverse community into a commercially viable and socially understandable media audience, as well as into a politically efficient public? Do media channels continue to form communities, increasingly shaping lifestyles, or do they fail?

Also, the economic recession, the growing complexity of societal choices, and post-ideological convergence of political markets have recently led to the rise of pseudo-ideological populism in established democracies, as well as to attempts of authoritarian regimes to co-opt Internet communication techniques for their benefit. On what communicative grounds do political publics form today? Do we face the birth of new types of public spheres? How do professional, cultural, and values-based communities find ways to communicate their political messages? And how does platform dependence reshape political and social communication?

And if we, indeed, face the fundamentally new, fragmented, redefined communicative groupings, how do we describe them? Can we actually measure ‘a public’ similar to the way we measure audiences – and how do we measure the latter, too? Do social media represent publics, and with what limitations? Is community equal to a platform? And can we draw parallels with the recent and no-so-recent past of the media systems when calling a constellation of people a community, an audience, a public?

The conference seeks contributions that deal with describing, measuring, and assessing the deliberative quality and consumer behavior of communicative communities, audiences, and publics, both today and in the past. The aim of this conference is to bring together sociological, economic, psychological, communicative, and technological perspectives in rethinking the relations between social groups, media markets, and communicative technologies. We especially welcome contributions of comparative nature, while single-case studies are also welcome if they state how the method may be expanded to involve comparisons.


In 2019, the conference will have four tracks that feature various aspects of the questions posed above. The submissions might orient to but are not limited to the following sub-topics:

THEORY track

Chairs: Silvio Waisbord, George Washington University, USA
Florian Toepfl, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

(Re)defining communities, audiences, publics: academic vs. industrial definitions of communicative groupings

Today’s grounds of formation of audiences and publics: towards multi-dimensional assessment of group communication

Group communication and its role in social change: national to regional to global

New types of democratic and authoritarian publics and their social and political roles

Public sphere(s): old, new, (non)existent

Communicative affordances and their roles in community building

Media effects in fragmented communication


Chairs: Svetlana Bodrunova, St.Petersburg State University, Russia
Anna Litvinenko, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany – St.Petersburg State University, Russia

New socio-economic order and communication in the post-recession world

Personal vs. group communication: the borders of the social in public discussions

Social gaps and political publics

Communicating ideology in today’s world

The state and co-optation of platforms: free speech, communicative authoritarianism, and computational propaganda

Communities communicating: practices in comparative perspective

Minority, ethnicity, and migration as communicative triggers


Chair: Federico Subervi, University of Leeds, UK

Communication as belonging: media consumption as community builder/destroyer

Business models for newspapers and beyond: is there an audience?

Group interests and media content: new rituals of audience involvement

Online journalism and the blurred borders of media consumption

Personalized or mass journalism? Decisions for today’s fragmentation of media use

Community media and their resources for survival

Measuring audiences: media metric industries of today

The visual: representing communities and creating audience involvement


Chairs: Olessia Koltsova, National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Russia

Platform affordances and community formation

Media and their audiences on social networks

Communities and computationals: bots, trolls, and their real impact tested

Detection of communities and publics: automated and semi-automated methods

Measuring publics: conceptualization and instruments

Approaches to comparisons in online community detection


Since 2013, the conference has gathered experts in a wide range of topics within comparative media research, from media systems studies and transformations in communication to the rise of platform-based communication to emotions and rationality in mediated discussions.

In 2019, the 7th conference will include a plenary podium discussion, four keynote speeches, special ‘guest country’ events, panels for presenting papers, book presentations, and a range of workshops (subject to submissions).

The conference is an integral part of the 58th Russian-speaking ‘Media in Modern World’ Annual Forum. Thus, interested audience is ensured, and you may wish to take part in the Plenary Session (with simultaneous translation into English), as well as other sessions and panels at the Annual Forum on April 18-19.

The cultural program of the conference will include excursions to the State Hermitage and the Russian Museum that holds one of the best collections of Russian fine art in the world.


Tentative keynote speakers

Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

Barbara Pfetsch (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)

Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska (University of Wroclaw, Poland)

Florian Toepfl (Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany)

Andreas Hepp (Universitaet Bremen, Germany)

Guest country of the conference

This year, Poland will be the guest country of the conference. In the recent years, Poland has experienced both political polarization and development of new forms of digital activism. The delegation will be chaired by Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska (University of Wroclaw) and Teresa Sasinska-Klas (University of Krakow).


Individual submissions

Full papers: 9 to 15 pages, APA-style formatted, anonymized

Short papers: 5 to 8 pages, APA-style formatted, anonymized

Extended abstracts: 300 words, free form (pdf), anonymized

All submissions must be uploaded via the conference EasyChair account (will be available starting from November 15, 2018; please see the address on the conference website). Full and short papers will be considered for publication in the conference proceedings.

Group submissions

Panel submissions: a 300-word panel rationale plus 3 to 5 abstracts of max 200 words, free form (pdf), anonymized. Full and short papers may be submitted as parts of the panels to be included in the proceedings, but panels may also be accepted without full paper submission.

Workshops: 2 to 4 pages, free form, de-anonymized

All submissions must be uploaded via the conference EasyChair account here.


Workshops are a special group form of participation in the conference. They are dedicated to detailed in-group discussion of a collection of papers (up to ten). Workshop proposals are submitted by the general conference deadline; workshop papers are submitted by a later deadline, but are subject to blind peer-review just as the conference submissions. Accepted papers will be published in the second volume of proceedings after the conference. The initial payment for the workshop includes all the papers by workshop organizers; also, external individual submissions may be included in a workshop. Workshop chairs organize the reviewing process together with the conference organizers.


Peter Lang post-conference volume
The conference will publish a volume in a book series called 'Studies in Communication and Politics' at Peter Lang, under series editorship of Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska and Michal Glowacki (Poland). The series is indexed in Scopus and has a very good international reputation. The editorial guidelines apply; all the authors of accepted papers will be advised on how to adapt their texts to become book chapters.

Special issue at Social Media + Society
The conference will feature its best papers at Social Media + Society, a leading journal in the field (SCOPUS Q1). The journal focuses on research upon social media and their roles in social and political life. While submitting via EasyChair, please tick the box ‘I want my paper to be considered for the special issue’ if you wish so. Note that the issue is regarded ‘invited content’, which makes this open access publication free of charge.

Digital Journalism publishing opportunity
The conference steering committee will identify (based on the reviews) the best conference paper on issues that relate to digital media and online journalism. This paper will be suggested for publication in Digital Journalism (SCOPUS Q1), another distinguished journal in communication studies. Prof. Svetlana Bodrunova, the CMSTW program chair and Digital Journalism board member, will advise on how to make the paper fit the standards of the journal before submitting it to the journal peer review.

Katrin Voltmer’s prize for the best PhD student paper
In 2018, Katrin Voltmer established a prize for the best PhD student’s paper of the conference; this prize is equal to 10,000 RUR. The prize will be handed in at the closing ceremony.


Individual submissions

January 22, 2019 – main submission deadline (papers and extended abstracts, including papers that belong to panels)

February 10, 2019 – notifications of acceptance

February 15, 2019 – deadline to confirm participation

February 20, 2019 – camera-ready papers deadline

March 1, 2018 – early-bird registration deadline

April 1, 2018 – regular registration deadline

Group submissions

January 22, 2019 – main submission deadline (panel and workshop proposals)

January 30, 2019 – notification of acceptance and announcement of workshops on the website

February 10, 2019 – deadline for individual workshop submissions to EasyChair

February 22, 2019 – notification of acceptance for workshop papers

March 1, 2019 – registration deadline for group submissions

March 15, 2018 – early-bird registration deadline for individual workshop submissions

April 1, 2018 – regular registration deadline

Please note that there will be no on-site registration payment procedures;

please ensure your participation by paying the participation fee before April 1, 2018.

Visa support

St.Petersburg University provides visa support for the conference participants. Visa invitation letters will be sent out on request. Please note that, for the USA and UK citizens, preparation of an official invitation may take up to 5 weeks, while for the EU citizens it takes 1 to 2 weeks.



UN Tier 1 country: 150 euro (early-bird: 120 euro)

UN Tier 2 country: 120 euro (early-bird: 100 euro)

UN Tier 3 country: 80 euro (early-bird: 60 euro)

Student/PhD student presenter – 50 euro

Individual workshop submission: 100 euro (early-bird: 80 euro)

The lists of countries by tier may be found here: www.icahdq.org

Panel (up to 5 papers): 250 euro (early-bird: 200 euro), individual submissions included in payment

Workshop (up to 10 participants): 250 euro for the initial group submission

Non-presenting participant – 30 euro

Please note that the price for the entrance tickets to the State Hermitage is to be paid extra at the museum and is currently 10 euro, or 700 roubles.


Program steering committee

Nico Carpentier (Belgium – Sweden)

Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska (Poland)

Kaarle Nordenstreng (Finland)

Florian Toepfl (Germany)

Katrin Voltmer (UK)

Local organizing committee

Svetlana Bodrunova - program chair

Anna Smoliarova - reviews chair

Alexander Marchenko - visa support

Conference venue, website, and email

The conference venue is School of Journalism and Mass Communications,

St.Petersburg University,

26, 1st line of Vasilievsky island, St.Petersburg 199004 Russia

The conference website will be cmstw2019.org (opens November 15, 2018). Those interested in learning of previous conferences and general information may wish to visit cmstw2018.org.

In case of any queries, please send us your questions to cmstw2019@spbu.ru.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you in St.Petersburg!