Trust in Expertise in a Changing Media Landscape

Berlin. March 18-19, 2021

Location: Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), Berlin, Germany

Keynotes: Prof Onora O’Neill (Cambridge), Prof Natali Helberger (Amsterdam), Prof Michael Latzer (Zurich), Prof Christoph Neuberger (Berlin)

Organizers: Prof José van Dijck, Dr Donya Alinejad (Utrecht University) and Daniel Kaiser (ALLEA)

In democratic societies, trust in the provenance and justification of policy measures are essential for their implementation. Trust in scientific expertise—both in experts and in scientific institutions—has become a contested subject in the wake of recent political and social developments, particularly the emergence of populist sentiments. At the same time, newspapers and journalists have always played an important part in the shaping of public trust in public debates. However, the recent contestations also draw attention to questions of trust in media organizations. Are they fulfilling their role as watchdogs of democracy and mediators of informed public debate? Can they be considered ‘pillars of institutional trust’ themselves?

Over the past decade, the traditional media landscape has substantially transformed into a globalized, technologically mediated and commoditized environment—a transformation that coincided with increasingly volatile levels of trust in institutions, whether academia, politics, governments, or legacy media. Online sources for information, including information about various areas of scientific expertise, provide new, low-threshold opportunities to communicate. Social media, blogs and vlogs offer unlimited and boundless sources for the public to inform themselves quickly, mostly free of charge and everywhere. The credibility and hence trustworthiness of such sources are difficult to assess. It is often unclear who says what in which context and based on what authority or expertise, particularly if information is decontextualized from its original source and distributed through social media.

Submission Details

This call solicits presentations and papers from a number of (inter)disciplinary fields, bringing together perspectives from media and communication studies, information science, public policy, philosophy, social and political sciences, and more. Papers will be selected on the basis of quality of content and suitability to the theme. The two day conference will feature up to 60 presentations in various panels and keynotes. Selected papers will be considered for publication in a special issue or edited volume.

This conference aims to foster the exchange of ideas across national and disciplinary borders between senior and junior researchers. We have therefore reserved limited funds for travel grants to support excellent contributions from early career scholars and scholars from the global south. Please indicate your interest when submitting your abstract.

We invite abstracts of up to 300 words and a short bio of up to 100 words by 1 September, 2020.

Abstracts should be sent to peritia@allea.org.

Information regarding acceptance should be available by early October 2020.