Conference 2018
Theme for 2018:
Emotions vs. Rationality in Mediated Discussions
Emotions have always been part of the public discourse as a key baking agent polarizing social groups, helping to aggregate interests, and shaping decision-making. From protest solidarity to compassion fatigue, it is the emotions that distance the public sphere from its reason-based ideal and at the same time make the discussions more appealing to media audiences. And while rationality has produced a major line in media studies, emotions per se have been a smaller research focus. Today, we still lack knowledge on how emotional and rational arguments go together in mediated discussions, especially in comparative perspective.

And this lack has become even more acute in the 2010s, with the extreme 'emotionalization' of election campaigns and referenda, 'border-building thinking', the new rise of international militant rhetoric,, use of televised shock by terrorists, and affective debates on social networks virtually everywhere including the USA, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. In the climate of information spinning and alt-news, the Habermassian all-encompassing public sphere seems impossible as never before. But at the same time, computer-mediated communication has opened doors for cross-cultural solidarity campaigning on inequalities and human rights, as well as to opportunities of visual ad audiovisual expression of feelings on a mass scale.

Thus, the conference is seeking contributions that deal with rationality, irrationality, emotions and affects in mediated communication. We especially welcome comparative research but do not limit ourselves to it, as case studies may be crucial for understanding trends. The aim of the conference is to go beyond statements on 'fake news' and 'propaganda reborn' and to look deeper into causes and consequences of the communicative shifts of the recent times. We hope to link communication researchers to their colleagues in wider social sciences, including sociology, public memory studies, social psychology, and international relations, as well as to linguists, mathematicians, and computer scientists interested in media research.

Conference tracks
In 2018, the conference will have three tracks:

  • The 'Theory' track, traditional for the conference, will deal with emotionality and rationality in communication from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
  • The 'Political&Social' track will explore the linkages between emotionality in politics and that in political communication, emotions in political talk in media and social communicative milieus, rationality and affect in public argumentation, and other aspects of emotionalized media discussions on the issues of today's agendas.
  • The 'Tech&Methods' track will focus on detecting emotions and linking it to other methodologies of social research including (but not limited to) automated methods such as social network analysis, detection of discussion topics, or user homophily studies. Here, the goal is to link the methods and the national/comparative contexts for better understanding of the changes in communication around the world.
Among other topics, the conference will focus on:

  • Emotions and media: revitalizing the research approaches
  • Rational public spheres and their limitations in the real world
  • Affective publics and emotional communities online and offline
  • Emotions, journalistic standards, and media practices
  • Emotions and media effects: gaining and losing audiences by emotions
  • Emotional factors in media consumption
  • Emotions and rationality in today's political communication
  • Emotions and connective action: from individual feelings to collective expression
  • Emotions in fake news and media satire
  • Emotions as border builders: communicating fear and alienation
  • Reputational communication and character assassination
  • Emotions as trivializers: cute cats and depoliticization of online discussions
  • Methodologies of social research on emotions
  • Sentiment analysis for traditional and social media
  • Semantics in detecting emotions
  • User polarization detection: do emotions play a role?
  • Insta-, Tele-, and other –grams in dealing with our emotions
  • Emotions and anonymity online
        Past conferences
        Comparative Media Studies in Today's World' started in 2013 as a pre-conference to the Annual forum 'Media in the Modern World', a conference with an over-50-years history at St.Petersburg State University, Russia. Since then, the conference gathered experts in comparative media research, including Paolo Mancini, Larry Gross, Silvio Waisbord, Katrin Voltmer, Nico Carpentier, Susanne Fengler, Elena Vartanova, Thomas Hanitzsch, Daya Thussu and many others.

        In 2018, CMSTW is an integral part of the Annual Forum which will be held by St. Petersburg State University for the 57th time in 2018. Thus, interested audience is ensured, and you may wish to take part in the Plenary Session (with simultaneous translation into English) and all sorts of discussions at the Russian-language Annual Forum on April 19-20.

        More information on previous conferences may be found here: