Media @ McGill

Becky Lentz to present at ISA annual meeting in Montreal, and Georgetown U. roundtable

Submitted by hive on

M@M's Becky Lentz presents two papers in March. The first, entitled "Discourse Studies and 'New Media' Policy Scholarship", will be given at the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics: Discourse 2.0 Language and New Media.The second, entitled "Civil Society Interventions on Access to Knowledge (A2K) Issues" will be given at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association here in Montreal. 

The Georgetown event happens from March 10-13, 2011. Professor Lentz will be participating in a panel entitled Global Communication Governance and the Role of Non-State Actors. Her paper presents case study research on Consumers International's recent transnational project: A Global Consumer Dialog and Advocacy Network on Access to Knowledge (A2K) Issues, which seeks to harness the collective voice and effectiveness of consumer groups working around the world and across issue sectors to guarantee that consumer interests are adequately represented in national and global debates around intellectual property (IP) and communications rights. Consumers International, a 220-member organization, is a world federation of consumer groups that serves as the largest independent and authoritative global advocacy voice for consumer issues.

The case study examines the effectiveness of various program components designed to pressure governments and international organisations to develop more balanced IP and communications regimes by identifying problems consumers face in accessing and using copyright protected materials, highlighting access barriers that require further investigation, identifying the legitimate needs of artists and content creators, and reframing enforcement debates to advance member groups' economic, political, and cultural interests.

The panel concerns the following themes:

"Communication governance and Information Policy (CIP), is an important interdisciplinary subfield of policy studies vital to global problems of the 21st century. Across issue areas, established political actors and marginalized communities compete for media representation, yet many now recognize how media systems and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are enabling networking across borders, leading to the formation of many new alliances and loyalties that affect global governance processes and norms.

At the same time, the CIP field has undergone substantial change and innovation in its governing arrangements, moving from mainly state-based regulation to more internationalized policy-oriented interactions between state and non-state actors. This panel bridges several theoretical, epistemological, and ontological divides that concern how communication governance is being taken up across issues areas in this dynamic field. Each panelist analyzes a current policy debate where non-state actors have mobilized, in different ways, but on a global level, contributing to transformations and shifts of political authority as well as the roles and influence of non-state actors.

Finally, each panelist elaborates lessons learned in terms of governance reform. In so doing, the panel as a whole helps clarify currently contested notions of CIP governance and authority shifts and the roles of non-state actors in global governance."

Then on March 16, Lentz returns to Montreal for the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, the theme of which is Global Communication Governance and the Role of Non-State Actors. Her paper is entitled "Civil Society Interventions on Access to Knowledge (A2K) Issues":

Interpretive methods are well established as a legitimate mode of scholarship in a wide range of research fields. This is true not just in new media studies or other culturally inflected fields like feminist media studies; it is also used in more traditional fields like education, critical race studies, law and literature, policy studies, science and technology studies, international relations, cultural political economy, and urban research and planning. However, while the field of media studies has a communicative focus, with exceptions the discursive turn is not yet as common in the subfield of media policy scholarship, especially new media policy that looks at issues such as Internet governance.

This gap is particularly apparent when discussing these types of telecommunications-related issues, which have become more important in recent years due to the convergence of industries, media platforms, and legal doctrines used to regulate them. A discursive approach to "new media" policy asks how legislative, regulatory, judicial, corporate, and third sector institutions' policy discourses and discursive processes construct, shape, reflect, act upon, or negotiate the construction of social identities, social relations, and subject positions in the media, online, and in society. It questions how the discursive instruments of policymaking and advocacy signify the world, its processes, entities, and relations into systems of knowledge and belief. It exposes the wordplay involved in policy making and advocacy, as well as the degree of strategic nuance, or the discursive artifice, involved in writing legislation and rules.

Finally, a discursive perspective to new media policymaking exposes the malleable and ambiguous nature of regulatory categories themselves. Within this context, the paper traces the origin and evolution of regulatory decisions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S. during the Computer Inquiries between 1966 and 1989 as backdrop to a contemporary "new media" policy debate about "network neutrality". It denaturalizes the "linguistic engineering" practices involved in this debate and closes by discussing their implications for media reform and media justice.