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The Responsibility of Knowledge. The Values of Critique and Social Relevance in Research on Communication and Culture

n. 1/2014 - Editeb by Maria Francesca Murru and Nico Carpentier

«The essence of the task is not closure, but opening; not the selection of human possibilities worth pursuing, but preventing them from being foreclosed, forfeited or simply lost from view. The calling of sociology is nowadays to enlarge and to keep the width of that part of the human world which is subject to incessant discursive scrutiny and so keep it saved from ossification into the "no-choice" condition» (Bauman, 2001, p. 13). 

Since its beginnings, research on media and communication has claimed a strong empirical and practical orientation. In 1941 an article authored by Lazarsfeld drew for the first time clear boundaries between critical and administrative research, specifying that the commitment to theoretical generalization and normativity was essential for the former but irrelevant for the latter. 

Even if within the boundaries of that opposition, Lazarsfeld didn't stop in the following years to specify that the choice of privileging empirical specificities wasn't the result of subordination to commercial interest; rather, it was an answer to the need of contributing to social organisation, preferring a neutral assessment of social facts to any aprioristic judgments. 

This special issue of Comunicazioni Sociali intends to open the debate on how the values of critique and social relevance, are currently translated in the contemporary research of communication and culture. We invite both theoretical contributions and reviews aimed at mapping those research projects or activities where the principles of critique and social relevance are concretely deployed in the ratio and the praxis of research. Contributions in the broad field of communication and culture are welcomed.

Addressed topics can include (but are not limited to): 
• Definition of a critical approach to research on communication and culture, its foundations and possible applications. What does it mean to develop a critical approach to communication and culture? In which strands of research is this perspective is not only claimed but also fully applied in specific empirical choices? 
• Case studies showing the importance of a critical approach in studying contemporary (media) cultures. 
• Identification of parameters of social relevance in research on communication and culture, starting either from a theoretical reflection or empirical inquiry. An interesting topic could address the dialectic between parameters of social relevance produced internally by academic community and those conventions or negotiations which establish their legitimacy from the point of view of stakeholders. 
• Conditions, potentialities or obstacles to the dialogic exchanges between academic community and stakeholders. In which occasions the reflexivity produced by research is able to increase the symbolic awareness of involved subjects? 
• Theory and praxis of action-research in studying communication and culture. The focus will be on those cases in which action and reflection, theory and practice are combined in a virtuous circle with the aim of solving problems or promoting the wellbeing and dynamism of specific life contexts. 

Submission of proposals 
Deadline for abstract submission: June 23, 2013
Abstract: 250 words maximum (references not included)
On the basis of these short abstracts, invitations to submit full papers will then be sent out at the beginning of July. 
Full papers will be due by October 10, 2013, and will undergo a double-blind peer review procedure. 
Papers: length between 4000 and 5000 words maximum (references included)
Papers in English, French and Italian are accepted. 
Submissions should be sent to Maria Francesca Murru:

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