Call for Papers: Images, clusters and types – Making sense of image corpora and dispersed visual practices in and with digital media


Studies in Communication Sciences (SComS) is very pleased to announce that Ulla Autenrieth (Fachhochschule Graubünden), Wolfgang Reißmann (FU Berlin) and Rebecca Venema (USI Università della Svizzera italiana) will guest edit a Thematic Section entitled: "Images, clusters and types – Making sense of image corpora and dispersed visual practices in and with digital media". Deadline for submission of abstracts (max. 500 words) is June 15 2022.

Developments in media environments, media- and image-related practices as well as in methodological tools and procedures call for a re-intensified reflection and work on image types and relational and comparative classification such analyses allow and require. In fact, we have witnessed a major shift in media ecologies as well as in research agendas over the last 10–15 years. Whereas mass media and news media coverage were dominant subjects of inquiry until early 2000s, in recent times more and more research efforts focus on the analysis of the multiple visualities in social media (Hand, 2017; Highfield & Leaver, 2016). Visual communication research contributed with both image analyses of selfies, memes and other visuals (Lobinger & Brantner, 2015), and by increasingly taking imagerelated practices such as “sharing” into account (Autenrieth, 2014; Gomez-Cruz & Lehmuskallio, 2016; Schreiber, 2017). Studies thus have shed light on how different sorts of visuals are appropriated and used in everyday practices of individuals or in different social entities and have tried to make sense of the constant stream of sorts of images with rather short half-lives which molds our visual media ecologies in times of “networked” and “algorithmic images” (Rubinstein & Sluis, 2008, 2013). When it comes to methods and methodological approaches, computational and digital methods promise to provide new insights and ways of grasping large image corpora and related practices (Niederer & Colombo, 2019). Other contributions explore possibilities to cluster “big image data” corpora (Rogers, 2021) with the help of artificial intelligence, machine learning and diverse sorting tools, supervised and unsupervised strategies (e.g., K-means clustering).

Against this background, the Thematic Section invites to reflect on old and new challenges in analyzing and constructing image types on the level of image contents, and / or in typologizing routinized or conventionalized image-related practices on the level of media and image appropriation and usage.

We welcome both, theoretical reflections on methodology and methods as well as qualitative and quantitative empirical studies or mixed approaches. In particular, the Thematic Section asks:

• How do we build up medium-sized or large corpora of images and practices in digital media environments? How do we develop image types or typologies of image-related practices based on those corpora? Which criteria, elements and relations are essential, which are of secondary relevance – why? What (new) legal and research ethics challenges arise from this? How do we deal with them?
• How do we involve manual and automated forms of coding and analyzing? Which limitations have automated and / or AI-driven forms of image clustering? Are image clusters and image types the same thing, or should we nuance conceptual differences? How are procedures of human and automated coding arranged in appropriate ways, e.g., for mutually correcting the “blind spots” of each other?
• How do we deal with the multitude of actors and contexts involved in producing and sharing images in digital media environments? How do we balance the tension between manifest and latent meanings of image types, and the contextual appropriation of specific representatives in different fields by different actors? How do we bring together people’s everyday practices of using or sorting images, folksonomy or platform-driven classifications, and research-centered, corpus-based results?

Plese see this link for the call for papers and formal requirements.