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MEDIÁLNÍ STUDIA / MEDIA STUDIES SPECIAL ISSUE (Autumn 2022) How is online incivility and toxic talk changing public participation?

Guest Editors: Marisa Torres da Silva (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, ICNOVA, Portugal), Maria José Brites (Universidade Lusófona, CICANT, Portugal) & Miguel Vicente (Universidad de Valladolid, Spain) 


Expected publication date: October/November 2022


This special issue of Mediální Studia / Media Studies aims to address forms on how online incivility and toxic talk are contributing to change public participation and questions attitudes and practices that publics and audiences develop to surpass these contexts. How is online incivility and toxic talk changing public participation? Which attitudes towards incivility are developed by publics and audiences? What kind of (formal or informal) norms are set to counter incivility?

As a transformed media environment has brought more opportunities for public debate and discussion, the rapid spread and amplified impact of incivility has become an important concern of scholars and citizens (Sobieraj & Berry, 2011; Coe, Kenski, & Rains, 2014). Although incivility is very difficult to define, with notable variations among scholars, it can be considered as a set of behaviors that threaten democracy and deny people their personal freedoms (Papacharissi, 2004), frequently including elements such as intimidation, disrespectful speech, hostility and hate speech. Incivilities traditionally associated with risk behaviors in the cities (Park, 1984; Roché, 1996) are now transposed to online environments with a huge impact in peoples’ lives. In contrast to the relatively regulated spaces of mainstream media (Waisbord, 2018) digital and social media offer accessibility to spheres that are often shaped by competition and conflict (Jakubovicz, 2017).

Incivility has effects on those who encounter it, whether as participants or observers often in negative ways (Kenski, Coe, & Rains, 2017), such as the “nasty effect” of encouraging negative perceptions of issues (Anderson et al., 2014, 2018) and political arguments (Mutz, 2007). Incivility also has a polarizing effect pushing people to extreme positions. However, although the phenomenon of incivility and its potential effects is rather extensively present in the scholarly literature, the ways by which publics and audiences interpret and act on incivility and online toxic environment (including non-participation, news avoidance, or digital disconnection) is a less visible topic.

Online incivilities call for social imaginaries of the media related to its engagement of people through conflict and contestation, through its potentially harmful or fatal consequences to individuals, society and democratic politics as well as being a source of moral panic anxieties (Critcher, 2008). Audiences use strategies of self-regulation against invasiveness (Syvertsen, 2017), also because they are seen as responsible for their online choices (Syvertsen, 2020), developing coping strategies to deal with unpleasant online experiences.


We encourage submissions which address topics such as (but not limited to):

●  Incivility and the quality of public deliberation

●  The desire to conflict and contest in mediated public spaces

●  Incivility as a way to express strong views or to contest strongly held views

●  Consequences of incivility in public discussions

●  Generational audiences and online incivilities

●  Nonparticipation or avoidance in the face of incivility and hate speech

●  Digital disconnection as a consequence of media incivility and toxic environments

●  Critical media literacy and the intent to surpass toxic environments

●  Norms and rules developed against online incivility, developed by public institutions or Internet companies (SNS)

●  Tracking and evaluation of norms and rules

●  Audience attitudes, actions, and initiatives to fight against online incivility

●  Political and media polarization as causes of incivility



Article submission deadline: March 15, 2022 Editors’ decision on articles: May 2022

Expected publication date: October/November 2022



Mediální studia / Media Studies (ISSN 2464-4846) is a peer-reviewed, open access electronic journal, published in English, Czech and Slovak twice a year. Based in disciplines of media and communication studies, it focuses on analyses of media texts, media cultures, media professionals practices, and media audiences behaviour. We especially support the emphasis on the dynamics of local-global knowledge on media and its mutual connections. The journal is indexed in Scopus, MLA, Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL), and European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS).

Articles must be submitted by email to the guest editors of this special issue:

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Please carefully read the journal’s submission guidelines before sending your contribution.