Democracy and Disinformation
in the Era of Trump
Clinton Institute, University College Dublin, 10-11 December 2018
Are we in the end-times of liberal democracy in the United States? For some years, Americans have been losing faith in institutions, civil norms, and perhaps the idea of America itself. The question has been dramatically sharpened by the election and presidency of Donald Trump.
Is it possible that liberal democracy – and by extension the liberal world order that the United States guided and gained from – was a short moment in American history, a seventy-year period of relative democratic stability at home and global leadership abroad. Is an epochal shift taking place? If so, to what? Illiberal democracy? What are we to call and how are we to understand the emerging order?
These questions have been complicated by the radical disruption of political culture and communication by new digital technologies and the prevalence of disinformation in place of a reliable and consensual ground of information and understanding. And by the distracting “reality show” of the Trump presidency that blurs entertainment and political life as never before. This overstimulation is disorienting, and damaging to basic perceptions about what constitutes politics or diplomacy.
How can Americans reconnect with or reinvent democratic traditions and institutions? How can journalism regain public trust and attention and help to shape a functioning democracy? What is the future of dissent and free speech in the digital era? Can social media be a source for democratic good?
This conference brings together journalists, scholars and activists to converse about American political realities and unrealities today, and to share insights on reimagining and rebuilding a democratic polity.
Topics may include (but are not confined to):
· the resilience of the public sphere
· discourses and narratives of American decline
· delegitimisation of knowledge and expertise
· populist media politics
· effects of digital technologies on political communications
· media literacy
· media concentration
· the civil impact of social media
· the Trump effect on news consumption
· conservative media ecology
· effects of Russia’s disinformation campaigns
· emerging forms of dissent and activism
· the erosion of democratic norms
· the rise of tribalism and intolerant communities
· culture wars and cultural nationalism
· online echo chambers and subcultures
Plenary speakers include:
Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham, founder of EA Worldview)
Angela Nagel (writer, author of Kill All Normies)
Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of Virginia, author of Antisocial Media)
Gary Younge (The Guardian)
We invite proposals from all academic disciplines and from activists and writers beyond academia. Please submit the paper title, an abstract of 300 words, a short bio and contact details. We also welcome applications for full panels of 3-4 papers. The deadline for paper and panel proposals is 1st September 2018. (Note – we will make decisions on paper/panel submissions on a rolling basis from 1st July to help facilitate participant’s planning for conference attendance).
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