Call for abstracts: Intimacy and visual communication in social media


Sharing (intimate) photos has become an integral part of close relationships in the age of social media. Particularly young people use social media as a way to establish and maintain strong social ties rather than a way of connecting to public life. This use pattern includes the sharing of photos and videos with intimate and sexual content such as nudes, intimate situations and other types of self-disclosure. As most public and academic interests has been related to situations where the process has gone wrong and people have been hurt, they are often associated with risk, worries and, indeed, moral disdain. Yet these cases are part of a much broader social practice, which is for the most part unproblematic and mundane. The sharing of intimate photos can be seen as part of a more general act of (mutual) self-disclosure in order to establish trust, and it can be seen as an exploration of sexuality and social identities. In both cases the sharing of intimate photos becomes part of more general processes of intimacy and close relationships that we should be careful not to reject or problematize as a whole.

Accordingly, in this themed issue we would like to move beyond the ‘stories of problem youth’ and toward a more empirically grounded and systematic analysis of the complex ways in which the sharing of intimate photos becomes part of everyday life practices including friendships, courtships, trust and intimacy – across all life phases. This may include studies of the roles intimate photos may have in the maintenance of friendships and romantic partnerships, the ways in which people negotiate trust and responsibilities in relation to this, and the specific place of risk in these interactions. It may also include more historical studies foregrounding differences and similarities to earlier practices of intimacy, friendships and sexual partnerships, and the ways gender and life phase condition and is conditioned by such practices.  It may include case studies zooming in on specific turning points where unproblematic practices turns into contested or even criminal offences. Further, articles could also focus on  situations where people restrict or prevent others from using photos in an undisclosed matter. Finally it may include more political-economic analyses of the way specific social platforms condition such practices and capitalize on them, and the wider implications this may have for citizens’ rights and security in the digital network society.

Please submit an extended abstract of 1000 words by May 15thon MedieKultur’s website.  Authors will be notified by May 30th, and the deadline for final submissions is August 31st. Articles that are accepted? for further process by the editors will go into peer-review in September. Expect to have decisions on manuscripts and potential further revisions end of September. Publication is planned for the end of 2019.