The journal Popular Communication, with its special issue “Podcasting, the Popular, and the Public Sphere” is calling for papers.
Articles in the issue will analyze elements of podcasting’s brief but vibrant history, interrogating the medium’s popular possibilities, revolutionary promises and moment-defining media texts. Arriving in the midst of increasing global political turbulence and offering a relatively inexpensive form of mass expression, podcasting significantly expanded a public sphere once dominated by opinion journalism, talk radio, and public affairs television.
In this sense, it offered a popularization of public sphere elements long dominated by elite discourse. Perhaps most alluringly, podcasting has offered a mode of discursive media aimed at younger, pop culture-savvy listeners invested in both on-demand programs _and_ political consciousness. But this newfound freedom and flexibility does not necessarily mean that the paradigms established by older media have been abolished or even meaningfully disrupted. It took little time, for example, for large corporations and other elite institutions to dominate mainstream podcast rankings, the most influential of which is hosted by the global megalith Apple.
Furthermore, the logics of narrowcasting have driven numerous independent producers towards increasingly specific content, fracturing the public and perhaps obscuring some of the popular potential of the medium. Podcasting thus offers new opportunities for expression, but nonetheless replicates certain historically established patterns of media concentration and limitation.
Specific research questions of interest to this special issue include but are not by any means limited to:
-How has the growth of podcasting both expanded and contracted the discursive possibilities for popular political media across the world?
-How do the histories of radio, regulation, and network distribution help to contextualize the popular dynamics of political podcasting?
-How do algorithms, rating systems, and other data structures impact the work of producers attempting to gain audiences for their political podcasts?
-How do podcasts fit into or defy traditions of progressive media?
-How do podcasts circulate globally and mediate debates over globalization, immigration, diaspora and other international concerns?
-How do podcasts embrace the blending of information and entertainment found elsewhere in global political media?
7000-word papers should be sent by 1 September 2018.
Link to full call for papers.