Internet Governance was among the “hot topics” of this year’s annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), which took place on July 12-16 in Montréal, Canada.
Under the general conference theme “Hegemony or Resistance? On the Ambiguous Power of Communication”, many of the 1200 participants (several of them active GigaNet members) presented empirical and theoretical research that scrutinised the governance mechanisms of communication and, more precisely, the Internet as means to exercise power through hegemony or resistance.
This research was debated most prominently during the first session of IAMCR’s Communication Policy & Technology Section (CPT), dedicated to “Internet Governance Post-Snowden”. During this session, scholars presented research questioning the role of Internet intermediaries, the soft power of IOs involved in Internet Governance, and the response of social media companies to online political extremism. A session organised by Law Section head Sandra Braman on the topic of network neutrality unfortunately took place in the same time slot; however, it gathered some of the most prominent net neutrality scholars for a lively discussion on this timely and very 'political' topic.
Moreover, a special session of the Global Media Policy section, in cooperation with IAMCR’s Policy Task Force, discussed the role that academics can play in Internet Governance processes. During this well-attended session, IAMCR members reported from on-going Internet Governance processes, such as WSIS+10, the Global Conference on Cyberspace and the Internet Social Forum, and discussed the impact that academics have, or could have, on their outcome.
Last but not least, Internet Governance was debated during two interrelated CPT sessions on “user empowerment”; within a broad range of presentations examining new perspectives on Internet users and the sociology that studies them, the question of how user studies can shed light on new dimensions of Internet governance -- able to fully include practices, appropriations and 'détournements' -- was examined.