NEMO Swarming research chosen for ICA Seattle

NEMO researchers Hagen Schölzel  and Howard Nothhaft will present their work on Swarming at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in Seattle, in May.

Their paper, entitled “How to investigate the establishment of facts in public discourse? Actor-Network-Theory as a methodological approach in PR-research” is based on their research into the ‘Swarming’ attack by internet activists who accused the rising star of German politics of plagiarising his PhD thesis. Within two weeks, Defence Minister zu Guttenberg was forced to resign. Howard and Hagen have given earlier accounts of the crisis at the 2012 NEMO conference and 2013 NEMO Academic Conference.  

The ICA’s annual meeting, generally regarded to be the most important conference in communication research worldwide, is based on a keenly contested selection process which accepted only 36 percent of submissions.

Howard and Hagen’s NEMO-funded investigation draws on actor-network-theory (ANT), a theoretical foundation not yet well-established in PR research. The authors argue there is a tendency for public relations research to tacitly underestimate the complexity, and indeed fragility, of the concept of ‘fact’ in public discourse. This tendency leads to a masking out of a crucial part of what public relations does.

The paper suggests some ways of exploring the establishment of facts as an active process, thus highlighting the role of communication. The analysis also draws attention on the network that ‘makes up’ a public person such as the former minister. Such a network nowadays ‘consists’ of complex and diverse entities not only including persons or institutions but also new media technology, mass media support, and – as the case shows – things like a PhD thesis.

In addition, Hagen will also present on the relevance of the cultural philosophy  concept of Interpassivity for communication theory. This second paper, based on research supported by ISK and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, contributes to current discussions about the limits of interactive communication and implications for democratic societies.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Write a Comment

* Required