CfA: How Modality Matters? Learning from the Multiplicity of (Non-)Digital Discourse Analytical Approaches @SMUS India 2023

Call for Abstracts (Deadline: 15.07.2022)

Session “How Modality Matters? Learning from the Multiplicity of (Non-)Digital Discourse Analytical Approaches”

at the 3rd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (SMUS Conference) &
3rd RC33 Regional Conference Asia: India, 20.‒26.02.2023,
Onsite conference hosted by IIT Roorkee (India)

Dear Colleagues,

We hereby invite you to submit an abstract for the Session “How Modality Matters? Learning from the Multiplicity of (Non-)Digital Discourse Analytical Approaches” at the “3rd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability” (“SMUS Conference”), which will simultaneously be the “3rd RC33 Regional Conference Asia: India”, and take place on site at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee, India) from Monday, February 20th, to Sunday, February 26th, 2023.

Session Organizers

Gertraud Koch and Isabel Eiser (University of Hamburg, Germany), gertraud.koch@universitä; isabel.eiser@universitä

Session Topic: How Modality Matters? Learning from the Multiplicity of (Non-)Digital Discourse Analytical Approaches

Digital tools offer a useful and supportive addition in analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data. Especially Discourse analysis gets enriched by features offered by Qualitative Data Analysis tools. Topic modeling, co-occurrence analysis, sentiment analysis or visualizations of quantified discourses and patterns offer insights into discourse and knowledge production, show trends and conjunctures, in the distributions of the usage of words over time. In recent years an increasing effort to develop new tools and features for digital discourse analysis can be recognized. But existing digital tools for qualitative data analysis still often fail to address the multiplicity of dossiers, specified need of different applied methodologies and theories, as well as hermeneutic processes and individual working modes of researchers in their approaches to discourse analysis. Therefore, this session asks for what digital or analogue approaches to discourse analysis, which tools and features, prove to be useful or lack in their functionalities regarding the diverse range of methodological concepts, used dossiers, and various working modes. Established methodological programs around the concept of discourse analysis differ in their approaches on a global scale regarding the regional focus as well as in the different research fields and departments. Approaches to the study of discourses reach from critical discourse analysis to historical discourse analysis, discourse theories, discourse linguistics, visual discourse analysis, or the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse.1 The programs refer to a variety of basic literature and differ widely in the choice of material used – from Foucault to Habermas, from handwritten archival historical archival records, to newspapers, interviews, images, and social media interaction. While the many different methodological approaches and research questions need adapted approaches and specific digital solutions, existing all-in-one-tools seem to not suit well for such complex purposes, resulting in researchers using collages of different technical approaches, tools, and features to address the need for individualized solutions for digital analysis and visualizations. Most digital tools are specialized in linguistic analyses, often focused on digital solutions for quantitative analyses, counting words and detecting patterns. Digital features for the analysis and interpretation of multimodal ‘data’ and non-linguistic discourses like images are still only rarely supported and in need of further development. Visualities prove to be influential components in the order of knowledge and knowledge production, as they contribute to the formation of social meaning and collective processes of solidarity and memory making.2 Such discursive productions of visual and ‘affective publics’ and collective solidarities using textual and visual material to form discourses are central processes in the construction of social realities.3 Therefore, questions arise on how to digitally analyze and visualize multimodal qualitative data, the changing use of visuals, materialities, or semantic attributions, the construction of social collectives in discourses or the discursive use of emotions. How can the use of non-linguistic discourses and appropriated social values and ethics in communicatively constructed media arrangements be analyzed analogue or with digital tools? Solutions to address these issues become especially urgent with increasing mass discourse production and reception in social media where mediated discourse interaction is increasingly combining texts, images and moving pictures. Such complex combinations of text-image-video in discourse interaction representing multimodal social realities are pushing the limits of digital tools which are struggling to adapt to these complex requests. This panel invites contributions on discourse analytical approaches on multimodal data from different fields, actors and locations that address the methodological challenges of a diverse range of digital discourse analytical approaches presenting different approaches to linguistic and non-linguistic discourse analysis with or without solutions from digital humanities. The panel organizers want to encourage the participation of a bandwidth of presentations on methodological challenges in analysis processes, use of tools and features regarding analysis, interpretation, and visualizations, as it is particularly interested in bringing together these examinations of analogue and digital research processes for a critical exchange and insights on the broad diversity of discourse analysis, its possibilities, limits, and future outcome. The discussion should include a methodological problem and may include the challenge of analyzing qualitative data analysis regarding big data, the pitfalls of the combined use of quantitative and qualitative analysis with digital tools, the use of multimodal data, or the applicability of transdisciplinary work in digital or manual discourse analysis and interpretation of data. Questions can be asked on the special needs of decisive discourse analytical approaches. What does a critical discourse analytical approach focusing on linguistics in contrast to a visual discourse analysis or a sociological approach, focusing on the construction of social reality through discourse? How can a methodological approach meaningfully combine manual and digital analytical methods in qualitative and quantitative social and cultural research, facilitating the epistemological reflection on relevance and validity of the gathered data and the hermeneutic processes? Which tools and features are experienced as useful or challenging, supporting, or distracting the research process? How can the human research be enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning, pushing the creative and hermeneutic processes, supporting establishing new questions, directions and reflections on the material collection, analysis, and interpretation of its research object? How can artificial intelligence brought into focus again to support the user and the process of discourse analysis with digital solutions, algorithms, and artificial intelligence?

About the Conference

The “Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability” (GCSMUS or SMUS) together with the Research Committee on “Logic and Methodology in Sociology” (RC33) of the “International Sociology Association” (ISA) and the Research Network “Quantitative Methods” (RN21) of the European Sociology Association” (ESA) will organize a 3rd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (“SMUS Conference”), which will simultaneously be the “3rd RC33 Regional Conference Asia: India”, and take place on site at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee, India) from Monday, February 20th, to Sunday, February 26th, 2023. The six-day conference aims at continuing a global dialogue on methods and should attract methodologists from all over the world and all social and spatial sciences (e. g. anthropology, area studies, architecture, communication studies, computational sciences, digital humanities, educational sciences, geography, historical sciences, humanities, landscape planning, philosophy, psychology, sociology, urban design, urban planning, traffic planning and environmental planning). The conference programme will include keynotes, sessions and advanced methodological training courses. With this intention, we invite scholars of all social and spatial sciences and other scholars who are interested in methodological discussions to suggest an abstract to any sessions of the conference. All papers have to address a methodological problem.

Please find more information on the above institutions on the following websites:

If you are interested in getting further information on the conference and other GCSMUS activities, please subscribe to the SMUS newsletter by registering via the following website:

Submission of Abstracts

If you are interested in presenting a paper at this session, please submit an English-language abstract containing the following information to SMUS India 2023 via the official conference website ( between 15.06.2022 and 15.07.2022.

  • Mention the Session Number and Name
  • Paper Title
  • Speakers (= name(s), email address(es), institutional affiliation(s))
  • 1000-2000 Word Abstract (= short description of the proposed talk. The abstract should explain which methodological problem is addressed, why this is relevant, how the paper refers to the session and what the general line of argument will be.)
  • Only one submission per individual will be entertained

Please note that all sessions must adhere to the rules of session organization comprised in the RC33 statutes and GCSMUS Objectives (see below). Please note that you can give a maximum of two papers at the conference, including joint papers. The conference organizers will inform you, if your proposed paper has been accepted for presentation at the conference by 15.09.2022. For further information, please see the conference website or contact the session organizers.

Please also kindly forward this call to anybody to whom it might be of interest.

Best wishes,

Gaurav Raheja, Shubhajit Sadhukhan, Manish Kumar Asthana

Rules for Session Organization

  1. There will be no conference fees.
  2. The session organizers and speakers will be expected to provide for their own funding for accommodation and travel expenses. However, members of SMUS partner institutions will be able to apply for a travel grant via their home institution. In addition, there will be travel grants for non-SMUS scholars from India who present a paper or organize a session. Travel grants will be high enough to fully cover travel costs and living expenses. Details on the application process will follow in autumn this year.
  3. The conference language is English. All papers therefore need to be presented in English.
  4. All sessions have to be international: Each session should have speakers from at least two countries (exceptions will need good reasons).
  5. Each paper must contain a methodological problem (any area, qualitative or quantitative).
  6. There will be several calls for abstracts via the SMUS, RC33 and RN21 Newsletters. To begin with, session organizers can prepare a call for abstracts on their own initiative, then at a different time, there will be a common call for abstracts, and session organizers can ask anybody to submit a paper.
  7. SMUS, RC33 and RN21 members may distribute these calls via other channels. SMUS members and session organizers are expected to actively advertise their session in their respective scientific communities.
  8. Speakers can only have one talk per session. This also applies for joint papers. It will not be possible for A and B to present at the same time one paper as B and A during the same session. This would just extend the time allocated to these speakers.
  9. Session organizers may present a paper in their own session.
  10. Sessions will have a length of 90 minutes with a maximum of 4 papers or a length of 120 minutes with a maximum of 6 papers. Session organizers can invite as many speakers as they like. The number of sessions depends on the number of papers submitted to each session: for example, if 12 good papers are submitted to a session, there will be two sessions with a length of 90 minutes each with 6 papers in each session.
  11. Papers may only be rejected for the conference if they do not present a methodological problem (as stated above), are not in English or are somehow considered by session organizers as not being appropriate or relevant for the conference. Session organizers may ask authors to revise and resubmit their paper so that it fits these requirements. If session organizers do not wish to consider a paper submitted to their session, they should inform the author and forward the paper to the local organizing team who will find a session where the paper fits for presentation.
  12. Papers directly addressed to the conference organising committee, suggesting a session. The conference organizers will check the formal rules and then offer the paper to the session organizer of the most appropriate session. The session organizers will have to decide on whether or not the paper can be included in their session(s). If the session organizers think that the paper does not fit into their session(s), the papers has to be sent back to the conference organizing committee as soon as possible so that the committee can offer the papers to another session organizer.