Communication & Cultural Policy
in the Age of the Platform

May 6-7, 2021
McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Note: This conference was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled to May 6-7 2021; on these new dates we tentatively plan that the conference will take place, at least partially, in person. We will monitor events and explore opportunities and modalities of online participation in case that is necessary for some or all participants at that time. The conference schedule will include all papers already accepted. We will also issue a new call for papers in November 2020, for possible additional papers. The conference schedule will be revised to reflect any cancellations, revised submissions, or new accepted submissions by February or March 2021. To confirm or cancel your participation, please email conference chair Dr. Sara Bannerman at
Algorithms and digital platforms play increasingly important roles in governing how we communicate and how we discover and engage with media and culture. The ‘platform turn’ in dominant media systems has significant implications for life opportunities, employment, participation in the digital economy (whose content is distributed and prioritized?), the star system (who is promoted and how? what counts as success?), politics (which and whose perspective is dominant? how has political deliberation and debate been re-mediatized?), international relations (whose view of the world is dominant?) and social relations (how are inequities in representation reproduced and transformed?).
This conference will draw together researchers in Canada and beyond to explore the intersections between media/communications/cultural policy and platforms. All submissions related to this theme are welcome, including research in the areas of arts policy, broadcasting policy, communication rights, Indigenous communication and cultural policy, competition policy, cultural industries policy, heritage policy, internet policy, media policy, speech regulation, privacy, smart city regulation, and platform regulation. We welcome analysis and case studies at all levels of policy-making, including municipal, provincial and federal, and Indigenous and international research.
Confirmed keynote speakers and presenters include Edward Greenspon (Public Policy Forum), Jesse Wente (Indigenous Screen Office), Sharon McGowan (Women in Film and Television-Vancouver, UBC), Laura Tribe (Open Media), Philippe Tousignant (CRTC), David Ogborn (McMaster), Jonathan Paquette (University of Ottawa), Philip Savage (McMaster), Leslie Regan Shade (University of Toronto), Tamara Shepherd (University of Calgary), Ira Wagman (Carleton), and Dwayne Winseck (Carleton).
The conference will consider the following key questions:
  1. How can Canadian media systems respond simultaneously to the challenge of digital platforms and to calls for a greater diversity of on-screen and off-screen voices?
  2. How are platforms taking on, or failing to take on, regulatory roles in the fields of communication and culture?
  3. How does the international political economy of platforms play out in media/communications/cultural policy?
  4. How does algorithmic governance function as regulation and policy setting in these fields?
  5. How are regulatory bodies in the field of communication and culture reconceptualizing their work in light of platforms?
  6. What relationships and interactions do regulators, as well as arts, media, and cultural organizations, have with platforms?
  7. How are regulatory bodies in the field of communication and culture incorporating platforms to conduct their work?
  8. How do advocacy, activist, and social justice initiatives intercede in the relationships between platforms and media/communications/cultural policy?
  9. How do comparative political cultures influence national regulatory agendas? What criteria may enable new comparative research?