Colloquia #16: The Political Economy of Convergence

, Piran, Slovenia

Call for papers

The Centre for Communication and Information Studies of the University of Westminster (CCIS), in association with the European Institute for Communication and Culture (Euricom), intends to hold a Colloquium on the Political Economy of Convergence, at Harrow campus of the University of Westminster in London.

Convergence is a key term in contemporary discourses about the media. Everyone, academics, businessmen, politicians and planners, journalists, is constantly talking about the impact that convergence will have on every area of human life. At one level, there is consensus about what is under discussion: in technical terms, convergence refers to the ways in which the development of computer-mediated communication systems and the digitalisation of content mean that the boundaries between different media are eroding. "Any content, over any platform, anywhere, at any time" is the slogan that expresses the aspiration of the engineers. Most people argue that this is, or will be soon, an established technological reality.

At another level, however, there is much more confusion. Convergence is not only a technical question but also an economic, social and political issue. There is much more debate in this area over just what the implications for business, for the system of states, and for the life of the ordinary citizens, will actually be. On the one hand, there are those who see the technical changes producing of necessity a social transformation of revolutionary proportions, affecting work, leisure, politics, and every other area of our lives. On the other hand, there are those who stress the gradual and cumulative nature of the changes, and the extent to which the realisation of the potential of technological innovation depends upon social and economic decisions. At every level from the business model of the converged company to the regulatory framework appropriate for international communication, there are a range of different. views. This Colloquium aims to bring together academics and industry figures to discuss these differing perspectives. In keeping with the traditions established in Colloquia organised with Euricom, the organisers do not wish to prioritise any particular method or approach within the scope of the overall topic. We would, however, identify the following general themes as being particularly interesting to us:

  • The impact on trade and employment
  • The impact on existing regulatory codes and bodies
  • Business strategies and industrial policies
  • Changes in the patterns of work and leisure
  • Democratic control over societies
  • Changes in media content and forms

Papers are invited on any of these topics, or upon other issues defined by prospective participants. In keeping with the established practice of the Colloquia, a special issue of the journal Javnost-The Public will be published containing some of the papers. The organisers will make every effort to find a publisher for a book containing a wider selection of material.