Current Call for Papers


The increasing impacts of social media on ‘real life’ phenomena like political elections, identity formations, or consumerism urge us to resolve the dichotomy between the online and the offline and consider how social media have become integral to political, cultural, and social transformations. Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are world-leading when it comes to the time spent in the internet and on social media. With the advent of the Corona Crisis, the social media penetration as well as their ubiquitous use have further jumped up.

As much as social media have permeated the everyday life and routines of both rapidly growing urban populations and remote communities, they have also often been extoled as a tool of civil society in order to organize against or challenge the current status-quo. In Southeast Asia, social media are indeed used for political critique as well as an additional means to express people’s demand often ignored in politics. This is, however, just one side of the coin. The other side depicts social media as an instrument of reactionary groups and authoritarian regimes. For vulnerable groups, for instance, social media have been useful in carving out spaces of mutual support, but in the last years, we have also seen increasing online mobilization stigmatizing minorities. The mobilizations against the governor of Jakarta in 2017, for example, were accompanied by online-spread hatred against Chinese minorities, while in the aftermath of the 2014 Coup d’Etat in Thailand, royalists used social media to attack political enemies.

Apart from politics, religious, ethnic, and other social identities are constituted, revitalized, and performed in social media. This holds true for distinct interest groups as, for instance, pious Muslims in Kuala Lumpur, environmentalists in Bangkok, or atheists in Jakarta, as well as for ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia’s margins. Furthermore, social media are used to drive consumer behaviour, to spread environmental awareness and help organize disaster management, to educate young people how to deal with hoax, and to promote notions of “peace” where activists fear social and political disorder. Chat platforms play an important role as a site to flirt, find friends and lovers; they serve as a platform for sex education in increasingly pious and conservative societies. Last but not least, social media increasingly function as economic space, which entrepreneur-minded young people use and create opportunities to make a living. Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube and other platforms make it possible to acquire the status of an influencer and earn money – albeit under highly precarious conditions. What we yet see on social media is often the result of multiple dynamics, including the formation of algorithmic enclaves or the work of self-organized buzzers and online “sweatshops”.

For the upcoming special issue, we invite conceptual and empirical articles addressing this variety of social media in Southeast Asia. The special issue therefore welcomes papers on the following topics (and beyond):

Social Media & Crisis: What roles do social media play in environmental conflicts and disaster management? How do people and governments on social media respond to national and transnational crises, for instance the 2020’s Corona pandemic, and what roles do social media play in defining and coping with such crises?

Social Media & Politics: How does the online interlink with the offline in processes of fragmentation (e.g., religious, ethnic, class) within society? How do social media challenge social cohesion in Southeast Asia? How do progressive groups use social media to organize resistance against authoritarian politics? In what ways do reactionary or fundamentalist groups use social media in order to organize and influence politics? How are images of imaginary threats (re-)produced through social media? How do policies of Southeast Asian governments restrict and utilize social media for their purposes?

Social Media, Marketing, Consumerism & Class: How do social media shape consumerism and serve as a tool for social distinction? How are market mechanisms shaped by the use of social media?

Social Media & Subcultures: How are youth cultures expressed in social media and how do social media shape expressions as well as the contents of youth cultures and youth movements? How do people marginalized in society use social media as a tool for expression or mutual support?

Social Media & Mobilities: How do diasporas and migrant laborers in and from Southeast Asia use social media as a means to maintain or curtail relations to their homelands?


Guest Editor: Wolfram Schaffer (University of Tübingen)

Managing Editors: Timo Duile (University of Bonn) & Dayana Lengauer (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

EXTENDED Submission deadline (full manuscripts): 15 August 2020

Publication of issue: 30 June 2021

If you intend to submit a paper, please contact the managing editors ( & - For submissions out of focus, please contact - Register and submit your paper online at - Please consult our submission guidelines prior to submitting your manuscript!

Further Details

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You can download the current call for papers here

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