Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group Annual Conference 2024-25

Alan Walters Building, University of Birmingham
Wednesday 8 January (00:00) - Thursday 9 January 2025 (00:00)

Electoral communication in 2024: Responding to a year of turbulence in media and politics

The School of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham will host the PSA Media & Politics Specialist Group Annual Conference in January 2025. This will be a hybrid event. 

2024 is set to be one of the biggest election years in history with voters across the world taking to the polls. Political campaigners have been using media in innovative ways for decades, but recent years have seen digitalized changes and challenges take place.

Before 2024, politicians and their parties were finding novel ways to communicate and campaign. The increasingly erratic party leader engagement with televised political debates, the steady decline in news consumption, and the use of social media, now so ubiquitous, have brought changes to communication strategies. One example is the use of video game spaces as election hubs. In 2020, US presidential campaigners and senators took to the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) to communicate with voters. Alongside politicians, social movements also took to Animal Crossing to host protests, including the Pro-Democracy Hong Kong movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the global climate strike, and the Pride celebrations. Aside from demonstrations in gaming spaces, in recent years social movements have adopted voter-interaction within their campaigning to communicate with the electorate both on and offline.

As the cycle of the elections in 2024 advances, election experts think that advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have the potential to introduce novel disruptions to the democratic process. Previous campaigning used technology to curate and match specific communications with targeted audiences. Today, the disinformation tactics of the past few elections, combined with the emerging wave of technology adept at autonomously crafting tailored content, are elevating concerns about AI’s influence on public discourse. Concerns around ‘election hacking’ have entered public conversations. In 2023, deep fakes of President Joe Biden were circulating in the US, and AI-generated news anchors have been created and used to spread disinformation ahead of the 2024 Venezuelan and Bangladeshi elections. Big tech companies such as Google and Meta are responding by developing policies to adapt to the challenges of AI-generated content, and well-resourced broadcasters and journalists are formulating content authenticity protocols with which to identify the rhetoric of dis/misinformation and deep fakes.

In 2024, political campaigning and advertising from across the globe and political spectrum will take centre stage across multiple mediated spaces. From legacy media outlets to social media tech giants and on to social movements and citizen journalists, the range of (dis/mis)information available to voters is broader than ever before. This conference invites contributions that explore how politicians, strategists, social movements, journalists, the electorate, citizens, and other political actors are responding to the challenges faced in this mediated landscape. It asks, in what ways has mediated political communication changed in 2024? Are new actors and new ways of campaigning emerging? And how do we, as media and politics scholars, respond?

While the main theme of this conference is electoral communication, the Media and Politics Group operates an open and inclusive policy, and papers dealing with any aspect of media and politics are welcomed. This may include areas of political communication and journalism but also includes a broader view of the political within online media, television, gaming, cinema and media arts, both factual and fictional.

Potential topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • The role of social movement communication in elections
  • Legacy media’s role in political and electoral communication
  • Alternative media and electoral communication
  • Relations between political actors and journalists
  • The implications of AI in elections
  • The power of political satire, cartoons, and memes
  • Online harassment and abuse
  • The role of affect, emotion, and authenticity within political communication
  • Disinformation, misinformation, malinformation, and threats to democratic health
  • The opportunities and challenges of digital campaigning
  • Datafication and challenges to democracy
  • Activism, social movements, and the media
  • The methodological challenges of researching election-focused media and political communication
  • Decolonising/diversifying political and electoral communication research

Keynote speakers

We are delighted to share our two keynote speakers for the conference who will discuss electoral communication:

  • Dr Patricia Rossini (University of Glasgow) on polarization, political intolerance, and violence in the 2022 Brazil election
  • Professor Darren Lilleker (Bournemouth University) on how digital technology is impacting political communication and democracy

Call For papers

Please send abstract proposals for 15-minute papers to a.j.rhodes@bham.ac.uk . These should include the following: title and name, institutional affiliation and address, and email address, together with a paper title and abstract of no more than 250 words. Proposers should also indicate whether they are a current postgraduate student and if they intend to present their work remotely.

Panel proposals

We welcome panel proposals for this conference. If you wish to propose a panel, please note the following stipulations from the organising committee:

• Panel proposals should include a panel overview (max. 300 words), outlining the title, synopsis, and chair details, as well as the abstracts for each contributor (no more than 250 words).

• Panels usually consist of three to four papers and a chair.

• Panels should aim to reflect the diversity of the profession and all-male panels will not be considered.

  • Deadline for submitting abstracts: Monday, 29 July 2024
  • Decisions about inclusion in the programme will be communicated on Monday 2 September 2024 

Registration fees

The cost of in-person attendance is £150 for salaried academics and £80 for PGR/low waged. This covers lunches, coffee breaks, and a wine reception.

The cost of remote attendance for online participants is £50 for salaried academics and £25 for PGR/low waged.

Financial support

The Media & Politics Group offers a limited number of travel subsidies (up to the value of £100) to support postgraduate student participation in this event. Postgraduate students interested in applying for these subsidies should please note this in their submission. 

James Thomas Memorial Prize

Full papers of a maximum of 2000 words submitted by postgraduate students will be entered into the James Thomas Memorial Prize. This annual award is presented to the most outstanding paper by a postgraduate student at the Media & Politics Group Annual Conference. Postgraduate students wishing to be considered for the prize should please note this in their submission. Please send full papers to Abi Rhodes: a.j.rhodes@bham.ac.uk by Monday 25 November 2024.


The University of Birmingham is accessible via a direct train from London Euston to Birmingham in around 90 minutes. There are also direct train services from Birmingham International Airport. Information on directions to Birmingham and to our Edgbaston campus are available on the Getting here page.  The conference will be held in the Alan Walters Building R29 in the red zone on  our campus map