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Call for Book Chapters - The Medium is Not the Message: Digital and Social Media in Africa - Panics, Myths and Disenfranchisement

Categories: Digital Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2021-10-01 Abstract Due: 2021-01-15

Call for Book Chapters

Title and Subtitle

The Medium is Not the Message: Digital and Social Media in Africa - Panics, Myths and Disenfranchisement


Dr. Henri-Count Evans[1]henricount@gmail.com

Prof. Ruth Teer-Tomaselli[2] teertoma@ukzn.ac.za

Dr. Tinashe Mawere[3] tinashe.m263@gmail.com

Critical, Digital and Social Media Studies

The chapter abstracts submitted will form part of the book proposal for consideration under the Critical, Digital and Social Media Studies series. The excerpt below highlights the central themes under CDSMS.

The peer-reviewed book series CDSMS edited by Christian Fuchs publishes books that critically study the role of the Internet and digital and social media in society. Titles analyze how power structures, digital capitalism, ideology and social struggles shape and are shaped by digital and social media. They use and develop critical theory discussing the political relevance and implications of studied topics. The series is a theoretical forum for Internet and social media research for books using methods and theories that challenge digital positivism; it also seeks to explore digital media ethics grounded in critical social theories and philosophy.

Book Overview and Scope

The inception of digital and social media has often been met with the utopia of freedom, democratisation and agency. This imagined ideal was hopeful toward improved communications and decentralisation of power from corporations and governments to the civil society. The new technologies, with their ability to transcend geographical and national boundaries, have posed as an alternative public sphere. This is especially so in nations where sovereignty and skewed nationalisms have been used to create boundaries for access and dissemination of mass media material. However, while new technologies offer competitive advantages compared to the traditional, centralised and offline media, suspicions (especially from governments and capitalist oligarchies) have arisen as to their ownership, control, use and abuse. New technologies have offered new forms of opposition to the capitalist and political hegemony of corporate and political groups. Fears have arisen because of the imagined power of digital and social media to the politically established order. Civil society’s appropriation of digital and social media for mobilisation and dissent has rapidly alarmed the status quo. This ‘new’ alternative has not only threatened the political hegemony of some political actors, especially the so-called liberation movements, but it has rocked their very existential conditions. The response from the political and economic elites in Africa has been two-pronged. At an ideological level, the ruling elites have sought to infiltrate digital and social media through hired influencers and institutions that produce online content that counters the civil society’s messages. Secondly, the elites have sought social control of communication through repressive state apparatuses (Althusser, 1971). Repressive state machinery such as the legal system have been mobilised to censor and control the production, distribution and consumption of digital and social media. These social control institutions have defended their authoritarian grip by invoking ‘national security’, an apparatus that blankets all oppositional messages as a threat to the nation’s security and the state. Therefore, the elites have sought to police the digital and social media by introducing legislation that censored digital and social media control.

While most African governments are bound by constitutions that guarantee freedom of expression and media freedom, this book explores the implications necessitated by their paradoxical censorship and control of digital and social media use by the civil society that offers an ‘alternative’ to the mainstream ideologies and dominance.  This book seeks to provide case studies on the strategies used by African governments in monitoring and controlling digital and social media and the implications of such actions for claims about media freedom and freedom of expression. Further, the book examines the human rights challenges posed by state control and monitoring of digital and social media forms of communication. The book questions how (in the context of a digital surveillance state) digital and social media can be used to enhance democratisation of both the communicative and political spaces. The book travels towards a critical media approach advanced by scholars such as Christian Fuchs and the Frankfurt School to answer this question. The underpinning message is that digital and social media are part of the industrial/informational society that bears all modernity and authoritarianism tendencies.


The book extends its media analysis to include digital and social media’s materiality to provide an essential contribution to the discipline of communication and media studies. The focus on Africa an attempt to narrow the scholarly gap between the global North scholarship (which is now more advanced) and Africa where scholarly contributions towards critical digital and social media are few and scattered. It is also in the wake of advances by some African governments like Zimbabwe to institute legislative amendments that seek to curtail digital and social media. By taking a critical stance, the book moves away from scholarly works that are optimistic of the digital and social media in extending democracy, civil society participation and information flow.

The editors invite academics, researchers, and media practitioners to submit original chapters that include theoretical, literature, and empirical work responding to digital and social media’s political economy in different African locales.

The abstracts should be related to the following themes/aspects:

Digital Media Political Economy – Implications for Freedom, Access and Democracy

This section critiques the political economy of digital and social media in Africa focusing on ownership of telecommunication companies and the owners’ interests in relation to existent social, political and economic power structures. The capitalist and hegemonic dominance of power players with little chance for democratisation of communications and interaction must be highlighted.

Digital and Social Media – Labour and Advertising

This section analyses digital and social media usage in relation to consumption dynamics in Africa. Central to the section are aspects of digital labour as espoused by Fuchs (2014) and how the audiences are used as labour in service of the capitalist class and the digital advertising footprint on digital and social media in relation to the Frankfurt School and critical media theory.

Post-Truth and the Wave of Disinformation in Africa

Critiques new ways of thinking about post-truth, disinformation and fake news in Africa and how the right to know has been infringed upon.  Also important is how misinformation has been used in political contestations to discredit enemies, credit compatriots, and provide an unequal political field, resulting in democratic decay.

Policing the ‘Sites’: Surveillance, Cyber Laws and Democratic Infringement in Africa

Critiques of digital media freedom in Africa, addressing aspects of laws, regulations and quasi-legal landscapes that govern and limit the possibilities of true digital media enjoyment and use in Africa.

Social Media and Elections

This section critiques the use of social media in times of elections, especially as an electioneering platform and as an accessory in electoral theft.

Submission Guidelines & Deadline:

Please submit chapter proposals/extended abstracts of 150 to 250 words, clearly explaining the proposed chapter's aims. Here is the link to the submission form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VRJyIoQMeiVMRfBnpvifpsCQTxDf-JrFANEhQygStJc/edit 

  •  A minimum of six (6) keywords must be provided. 
  •  Chapter proposals should reach the editors before 15 January 2021.
  • Authors will be notified of the outcome of their proposals on 25 January 2021.
  • Full chapters which will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis are to be submitted by 14 May, 2021.

Important Dates

Proposal Submission Deadline:  15 January 2021
Proposal Outcome:  25 January 2021
Full Chapter Submission: 14 May 2021
Review Process: 15 May – 18 June 2021
Revised Chapter from Authors: 30 August 2021
Submission of Final Manuscript to the publisher: 01 October 2021


[1] Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Eswatini
[2] Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal
[3] Centre for Sexualities, AIDS & Gender (CSA&G), University of Pretoria, South Africa 



Henri-Count Evans