16 March 2018

Highlights from the annual Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference

Networked (in)justice, special issue of Information, Communication & Society

Dr Koen Leurs and Dr Alison Harvey (University of Leicester) have co-edited a guest-edited special issue with a selection of works presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference held in Estonia in 2017.

Association of Internet Researchers

For the last 10 years, Information, Communication & Society has published a special issue including some highlights from the annual Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This, the 11th special issue, continues in the tradition of sharing rigorous, interdisciplinary, critical research from the event. #AoIR2017 was themed on ‘Networked Publics’ and took place from 18 to 21 October in Estonia in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. The conference was hosted by the programme chair Andra Siibak, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tartu, and facilitated by the Institute of Social Studies and the Centre for the Information Society.

Dr. Koen Leurs. Foto: Ivar Pel
Dr. Koen Leurs

Conference 'Networked Publics'

Held at the Dorpat Convention Center in picturesque downtown Tartu, the conference drew together attendees from a broad range of national, disciplinary, and methodological backgrounds, and we present here a selection of papers reflecting this broadness and diversity of internet research. Three hundred and thirty-eight participants from 29 countries participated in #AoIR2017, and the programme included the presentation of 129 papers, alongside 18 pre-constituted panels, 4 fishbowl sessions, 10 roundtables, an experimental session, 9 pre-conference workshops and a doctoral colloquium.

Social (in)justice

The pre-conferences focused on topics ranging from visual social media research to digital methods to academic freedom to sessions dedicated to the experiences of early career researchers. This special issue is pleased to share the emphasis on the diverging and contradictory consequences of the formation of networked publics. We have chosen to focus in particular on studies of publics that scrutinize how they may exacerbate injustices or work towards social justice.

Focus areas

We propose a focus on networked (in)justice drawing attention to:

  • How mainstream scholarly conceptualizations of publics and platforms prioritize some networked publics and marginalize others
  • How networked publics are shaped as an assemblage of hardware, design, algorithms, discourse, bodies, collectives, and affect
  • How networked publics reflect and shape intersecting power relations of geography, gender, race, and sexuality, among others
  • How networked publics are distinctively local, but simultaneously shaped by transnational and global dynamics.

Special issue line-up

#IAmNotAfraidToSayIt: Stories of Sexual Violence as Everyday Political Speech on Facebook

Tetyana Lokot

Platform vulnerabilities: Harassment and misogynoir in the digital attack on Leslie Jones

Caitlin Lawson

My life is a mess: Self-deprecating relatability and collective identities in the memification of student issues

Kristine Ask, Crystal Abidin

Gay men’s digital cultures beyond Gaydar and Grindr: LINE use in the gay Chinese diaspora of Australia

Wilfred Wang, Elija Cassidy

La revolución digital: Mobile media use in contemporary Cuba

Justin Grandinetti, Marie Eszenyi

Navigating a new life: Syrian refugees and their smartphones in Vienna

Katja Kaufmann

The mediatization of leadership: grassroots digital facilitators as organic intellectuals, sociometric stars and caretakers 

Maria Bakardjieva, Mylynn Felt, Delia Dumitrica