Communicating in a World of Norms

Information and Communication in Contemporary


 Co-organized by the International Communication Association (ICA), the GERIICO [Group of studies and research on information and communication] and the SFSIC [French Society for Information and Communication Sciences], this event will constitute the 2012 ICA Regional conference in Europe. This first French edition, taking place in Lille on March 7, 8 and 9, 2012, aims to develop strong scientific relationships between communication scholars represented by ICA all around the world.


  1. Theme

 The processes of unification, interconnection and homogenization of information and communications technologies (ICT) have created the image of a world of shared technological and communicational norms. The promise of a universal and democratic sharing of information and cultural products through digital network technologies paradoxically materializes itself in the promotion of a univocal communicative and administrative model. In parallel, cultural and linguistic diversity remains a key feature of humanity. Military and economic conflicts are now more than ever an ongoing reality. Their collateral damages affect human beings as much as their environment. Meanwhile, the shared representation of human space as a “market” is a reference in negotiations, transactions and communications legitimized by the media coverage, multinational corporations and, to some extent, common representations. Mainstream media reproduces a consensual culture of communication. Even if the limits of their authority are more technically, culturally and geographically restrained than they claim it to be, their legitimacy is barely contested. Indeed, protests do not alter their power, and are still viewed as marginal and can sometimes be recycled as alibi.

 In this context, communication, considered as a socio-technical activity, associated with specific purposes and values can be analyzed from many angles. Can technological norms induce communication rules? And, in this case, does the finality of communication require the (more or less shared) mastering of these technologies? Furthermore, are norms neutral or value laden? If they are motivated by values, can we infer that they should be addressed through critical debate? Is the standardization of communicational conventions apace and inevitable? If so, would it be considered as a project within the main mandate of communication professionals, or, on the contrary, an obstacle that they should overcome? Moreover, as a danger against which we should guard ourselves, along our efforts to preserve biodiversity? Should we facilitate the sharing of communication rules that are distinctive to the public sphere of “market-oriented democracies”? Or, should we favor and revitalize cultural and communicational diversity?

 Another facet of the globalization of communication is the meeting and confrontation of cultures and languages. Two paths are open to us: the path of homogenization and standardization, or, on the contrary, the path of cultural diversity and the management of heterogeneity. Hence, communication can lead either to simplification, as well as converging and univocal translations, or to the exploitation and development of complexity and diversity.


  1. Goals

 With this conference, we hope to:

 -- contribute to the international diffusion of information and communication research, as well as to develop international partnerships.

-- confront the positions of researchers and scholars who, even if they operate within distinct (geographical, cultural, linguistic, organizational and epistemological) frameworks, have a common interest in communicational forms and processes of (economic, social, technological, cultural, managerial) regulations and/or standardization.


  1. Axes of Questioning

 In this international conference, our relationship with (anthropological, technological and managerial) norms will be discussed according to four main axes of questioning and problematization:

 Axis 1: Communicational Approaches to Norms in Organizations

 Considering the technological and managerial devices that are currently deployed in (and by) institutions and organizations, we will question the processes of social transformation that result from managerial and technological models of information and communication. The organizational (re)configurations and control mechanisms will be discussed and analyzed from situations, processes and policies of communication that can be observed in a variety of organizational (business, governmental, administrative, associative) and cultural contexts. This axis will encourage the comparison between various approaches, paradigms and methods mobilized by different sub-fields of research in organizational communication.

 Axis 2: Visual worlds: Contributions of Information and Communication Studies to Visual Studies?

 This theme aims at specifying what contributions communication scholars can make to the analysis and development of the field of visual communication. Starting from the new visual paradigms and the interdisciplinary character of visual studies, we will analyze the social construction of visual universes and the conditions of their political (norms, legislation, influence, censorship) and economical (industrialization, formats, standards) control. Furthermore, socio-semiotic analyses will help reveal the artificial character of visual representations and their “reality effects” through multiple forms: press, artistic creation, education, cultural industry, medical imagery.

 Axis 3: New Media, New Public Spheres?

 This axis will seek to put into perspective research on the development and usage of electronic media that potentially constitute new spaces of information, creativity, controversies, or even deliberation. From the “blogosphere” to the public sphere, through the mutation of journalism and politics, we will assess the potentialities and limits of the Internet enabled by the diversity of its formats and usages.

 Axis 4: Communication Between Cultures: Another Globalization?

 In a context where cultural industrialization contributes to simultaneously democratize the access to culture and standardizes forms of expression, what are the possible pathways of intercultural communication and/or mediation? Can the development of information and communication technologies identify alternatives to the linguistic and cultural standardization in our access to learning. What can be drawn from the multicultural, intercultural and trans-cultural approaches developed by communication scholars?