Friday, October 18, 2013

ICA Pre-Conference: Sharing

[Knowing that love is to share]

Call for Papers
ICA Pre-Conference: Sharing
Thursday, May 22, 2014
University of Washington, Seattle

Sharing is a rich and emotive concept that refers to a range of distinct yet associated practices, all of which are powerfully salient in contemporary society. At the very least, sharing is the constitutive activity of Web 2.0, an alternative mode of production, distribution and consumption, and a type of speech. This pre-conference invites scholars from a range of fields to contribute to the research and theorization of sharing.

Thematic background 

The notion of sharing is widely deployed nowadays, and in a number of different ways. First, sharing is a keyword for the digital age: In Web 2.0 we share statuses, tweets, files, photos, videos, book reviews and more. Second, sharing is the proposed bedrock of alternative forms of production and consumption. Some of these forms are known collectively as the Sharing Economy, an emergent movement that identifies with and rests upon the technologies of social networks; others might fall under headings such as FLOSS, peer production, or the P2P economy. Third, sharing is a category of speech, or a type of communication, that is fundamental to our therapeutic culture, referring mainly—but certainly not only—to the conveyance of intimate information about the self to a significant other. These are just some of the ways in which sharing, in its different senses, is constitutive of important aspects of our social, economic and intimate lives.

A feature of sharing that is common to these different practices is that they all touch on the nebulous and porous boundary between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’: for instance, SNS users are criticized for polluting the public sphere, or ‘oversharing’; a popular model in the Sharing Economy involves offering private spaces (spare bedrooms, space in one’s car) for public consumption; and the rise of the therapeutic discourse has entailed increased levels of self-exposure between intimates, friends, and even colleagues.

Relatedly, each of the types of sharing draws on a similar pool of values, which includes honesty, openness, trust, and commonality. To the extent that these are desirable values, sharing would thus seem to be integral to any vision of the good life. Indeed, sharing is almost by definition good. But this is precisely the point at which a critique of sharing is required. For instance, we might wish to note that by sharing on social network sites we are contributing to privately-owned (and government-accessed) assemblages of surveillance; we might want to ask in what sense renting out a spare room is sharing it, and we might want to explore the role of venture capital and big business in the Sharing Economy; and we might wonder what structures of power are enacted and reproduced by privileging certain types of culturally-situated speech. More generally, if inclusion in a social framework is predicated on the ability to share, where does this leave people who have nothing?

Topics

Empirical and theoretical papers are invited on any topic for which sharing is a central concept. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Sharing online: What is the political economy of online sharing? How does the metaphor of sharing as the constitutive activity of Web 2.0 operate? 
  • Technologies of sharing: Reports have claimed that online sharing (e.g. of statuses) increases people’s propensity to share stuff offline (e.g. power drills). How is sharing today technologically mediated, encouraged, or forced? And: how do different technologies encourage sharing or punish non-sharing? Skype users, for instance, must share bandwidth to use the service; peer-to-peer file sharers share what they are uploading for as long as they are downloading. 
  • The word, ‘sharing’: Etymologies; ‘sharing’ in different languages; evolving meanings. And: what is stake by calling a practice one of sharing? What is gained? 
  • The Sharing Economy: The Sharing Economy and collaborative consumption as a critique of capitalism; the differences between sharing and gifting – for instance, does sharing create the same obligations described by Mauss and Derrida in relation to gifts? 
  • Sharing as a category of speech: What characterizes it? What rules of reciprocity and mutuality govern it? How do the values of sharing as a category of speech inform sharing in other social fields? 
  • Sharing and gender: Is sharing gendered? What would it mean to say that it is? 
  • Sharing, giving, exchanging: conceptual boundaries 
  • What’s new? Sharing is a practice as old as human society, so what is new about sharing in the 21st century, if anything? 
  • Sharing as a norm: How is sharing normatively promoted? What are the sanctions for non-sharing in the different spheres of sharing? 
  • Sharing as a form of subjectivation and desubjectivation 
  • Sharing between having and being: towards existentialist understandings of sharing 
  • Sharing and the concept of intimacy 
  • The anthropological narrative of sharing 
We are particularly interested in submissions that actively interrogate the concept of sharing. If sharing is an important notion in your research, we therefore invite you to think about the work done by the word in your field and how it might relate to other senses or uses.

Submissions

Submissions are welcomed from scholars at all stages of their careers, and across multiple disciplines engaged in research that relates to sharing. Submissions should be extended abstracts of around 750 words and be in Word doc/docx or PDF format. Please submit your abstract as an email attachment to sharingpreconference@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2013. Papers will be judged on criteria of relevance and originality of topic, clarity of presentation, as well as proximity to—and contribution to—the preconference theme. Notifications on acceptance will be emailed in mid-January.

In an effort to facilitate informed discussion of papers, the organizers hope to have the papers for this pre-conference posted online. For this reason, we will ask for full papers to be submitted no later than April 15, 2014.

Venue 

The sharing pre-conference will be held at the University of Washington. Transportation to the venue from the conference hotel will be provided at the beginning and end of each day's events.

The preconference is sponsored by the divisions of Popular Communication and Philosophy, Theory and Critique, as well as by the Department of Communication, University of Washington. It is being organized by Nicholas John (Department of Communication, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Wolfgang Sützl (School of Media Arts & Studies, Ohio University).

Queries may be directed to n.john@huji.ac.il.