Call for Papers


Unstable democracies: Polarization, populism and disinformation in a hybrid media context

November 11, 12 and 13, 2020. UIMP Valencia

In order to present a paper, 250-word proposals should be sent through the specific panel form to which it is addressed until July 25, 2020. The conference accepts papers in Spanish and English. According to the health circumstances, the conference will have a semi-virtual character. A selection of the accepted proposals will be published in a special edition of the Dígitos journal (, whose deadline for submission ends on December 15, 2020.


July 25, 2020: the deadline for sending communication proposals is closed.
July 31, 2020: communication of accepted papers.
September 15, 2020: registration and fees payment opening.
November 1, 2020: deadline for sending complete proposals.
November 11, 12 and 13, 2020: Conference celebration.


1. Institucional crisis, democratic representation and media coverage.


  • Dolors Palau Sampio (Universitat de València)
  • Emilia Palonen (University of Helsinki)

This panel aims to address the problems that nowadays threaten representative democracies, particularly to identify the challenges that political institutions face to guarantee their survival. In this section will be considered the coverage offered by media of these crises and their contribution to the legitimization or erosion of the institutions, when framing these situations.

The Brexit crisis and its management, the growing Euroscepticism, the organization of four electoral processes in Spain in the period of a legislature or the impossibility of reaching agreements between political forces have shown the difficulties faced by the traditional instances of representation in the current scenario. Even more so when they have to face exceptional situations such as those derived from the covid-19 and its multiple effects. Papers based on empirical research or theoretical contributions dealing with the previous topics and the media representation are welcome. This panel accepts different methodological approaches, including critical discourse analysis or framing theory, among others.

Possible research lines:

  • Representative democracies and its threats under the media spotlight
  • Media narratives and contribution to the legitimation or erosion of the institutions of democratic representation
  • Atomization of the vote and culture of the pact: between the (dis) confidence and the need
  • Brexit, Euroscepticism and the future of the European institutions
  • Socioeconomic crisis, pandemic and democracy: institutional management and political responsibility
  • Debate, discrepancy, division and polarization: Media feedback
  • Crisis of leadership and representative democracy
  • War frameworks to manage complexity

2. Media consumption, and audiences in hybrid media systems.


  • Lidia Valera Ordaz (Universidad de Valencia)
  • María Luisa Humanes (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)

This thematic session is devoted to research works which explore the citizen use and consumption of any type of media (traditional newspapers, digital media, radio stations, television channels, social media platforms), in the context of the increasing erosion of democratic systems derived from political polarization, the growth of populism, the circulation of hate speech, and the recent Covid pandemic and its terrible social and economic consequences.

In this panel, we intend to inspire an academic debate about how individuals use and consume different media types, how and why they choose specific information sources, and how and why they expose themselves to particular media contents and formats, in a convulse political context, where the information demand has dramatically raised. The session has the objective to analyze individuals’ media diets and their behavior on social media platforms, in order to identify patterns of media use and consumption, and ultimately establish the causes behind media exposure and the selection of particular outlets.

In addition, research works which are focused on multi-platform media consumption are particularly welcome. That is, works exploring individual media practices in the context of hybrid media systems, which allow a great deal of choice to users and facilitate information consumption through the simultaneous use of different media technologies.

Possible research lines

  • Predictors of media consumption: factors explaining information consumption through different media types (television, radio, press, social media platforms, etc.)
  • Media diets: descriptive, temporal and comparative approaches
  • Selective exposure to the news media: the role of ideology in media consumption, ideological niches, political polarization and segregation of audiences, etc.
  • Social media platforms’ use and consumption (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.): frequency, users’ typologies, socio-demographic profile, role of social media as information sources, etc.
  • Multi-platform media consumption
  • Audiences: analysis, profile and evolution of different media outlets and types

3. Democratic values in times of populism and emotion: communication and leadership.


  • José Manuel Sánchez Duarte (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)
  • Adolfo Carratalá (Universitat de València)

The work of traditional institutions in acknowledging and conveying democratic values has been progressively complemented by the media. This trend is more apparent in the digital ecosystem due to the loss of importance of conventional conveyors of politics and information. In parallel, widespread examples of consensus around values firmly established and legitimised in Western democracies are constantly questioned with regard to validity and usefulness. As a result, today’s ways of making and conveying politics and information are the ideal backdrops for the emergence of new leaderships and the introduction of alternative discourses. A polarised, fragmented and articulated terrain with passion and emotionality as the glue and the cornerstone of political practices and strategies.

Possible research lines

  • Antagonistic and counter-hegemonic discourses against democratic values
  • Scepticism, apathy, negativism and political cynicism.
  • Emotions and emotional communities: resources and practices of political parties and social movements.
  • Mobilisation strategies: narratives and repertoires (demonstrations, popular protests, etc.)
  • Leadership construction: platforms, media, networks and campaigns.
  • Politics of the other: from adversary to moral and political enemy.  

4. Strategy and democratic game: Surveys, pacts and political majority.


  • Óscar García Luengo (Universidad de Granada)
  • Guillermo López García (Universidad de Valencia)

This session is focused on the analysis of the strategies of the political parties, as well as their electoral expectations and results. We basically aim to observe how the electoral campaigns and the game of political majorities develop in the current context of democratic fragility, characterized by the emergence and consolidation of populism, the increase of polarization, and the difficulties in obtaining solid governments in many countries. From the methodological point of view, diverse approaches are welcome, taking into account both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Possible research lines

  • Analysis of electoral campaigns carried out by political parties
  • Electoral polls
  • Populist parties. Discourse, strategies and results.
  • Spinning techniques and “black” campaign. Disinformation and fake news.
  • Pressure groups. Influences on political actors and campaigns development.
  • Pandemic politics. Fragile democracies in the face of the Covid19 crisis.
  • Comparative studies.

5. Research on hate discourse and disinformation.


  • Marina Requena (Universidad de Valencia)
  • Sara García (Universitat Ramon Llull)

This section explores the relationship between extremism, disinformation and hateful communication in contemporary hybrid ecosystems. Online cultures of extreme speech have recently come to the centre of debate, often linked to exclusionary and populist movements that disseminate false information for political goals (influencing elections, trials, public opinion, silencing critical voices…) or just for profit. Some of their common tactics include intimidation, online belligerence, and the spread of both fake news and “fact-filled” disinformation.

Hate speech refers to polarizing expressions that vilify, humiliate or foster intolerance and violence against “other” groups that share a common identity, whether it is politicised, racialised, gendered, or others. Disinformation can be understood as an information disorder, even a war, that distorts and threatens our media ecosystems. Despite the ubiquity of these concepts, there is no consensus in the ways in which scholars, practitioners and lawmakers understand them. The focus of the section is to go beyond normative debates and to focus on how and why hateful speech and disinformation intersect online.

The sources of online hateful speech and disinformation are diverse: dispersed individuals, (semi-)organised groups that spread hatred, or opportunistic trolls and digital influencers who pursue economic gain. The targets are just as broad, including minoritized groups, activists, journalists, politicians, or civil society groups who seek to verify information and resist extreme speech. In fact, extreme hateful speech and disinformation defy some of the pillars of western democracies: shared values (respect, trust, pluralism), institutional processes (rule of law, public debate, accountability, verification) and human rights (freedom of expression, absence of discrimination…). Therefore, we consider that the relationship between disinformation, hateful speech and democracy needs to be critically assessed.

This section is interested in the widespread rise of hate speech and disinformation worldwide. We welcome contributions that offer new theoretical insights and original research that connects to real world scenarios in western countries and beyond. We are particularly interested in the ways in which hateful speech and disinformation interact in various socio-historical contexts, with their own media and political cultures.

Possible research lines

  • Disinformation and hate speech on and through digital media
  • Disinformation and hate speech during global crises
  • Hate speech in the context of socio-political and ethnic conflict
  • Producers and targets of hate speech and disinformation
  • Polarisation, hyper-partisanship, and echo-chambers
  • Digital rumour, virality and mob violence
  • Internet, memes, humour, and online hate
  • Hate speech as a form of media practice
  • Hate speech as a form of political violence/resistance
  • The social consequences of disinformation and hate speech

6. Nuts and bolts of the power: Reality and fiction.


  • Àlvar Peris Blanes (Universidad de Valencia)
  • Marta Montagut (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

Papers focusing on the main issues of the conference will be welcomed when they analyze media products framed in any of these three perspectives: those that address reality from a documentary and informative perspective; those who do it from entertainment, particularly from reality shows; and those who choose to approach these issues from the fiction field. Special consideration will be given to those proposals dealing with hybridization of content and format.

Possible research lines

  • Polarization, populism and disinformation in TV news.
  • Polarization, populism and disinformation in radio news.
  • Polarization, populism and disinformation in documentary content.
  • Polarization, populism and disinformation in entertainment programs.
  • Infotainment and political polarization, populism and disinformation.
  • Fiction and polarization series, populism and disinformation.
  • Products of fiction and polarization, populism and disinformation.
  • Polarization, populism and disinformation in the audiovisual content of the network.
  • The use of YouTube by the alt right.
  • Audiovisual content and democratic institutions.


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