Call for Papers for the special issue of Society Register 6(2)/2022
TACKLING SENSITIVE AND CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN SOCIETY, POLITICS AND EDUCATION
Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska & Urszula Markowska-Manista
1 May 2021 for abstracts, 15 September 2021 for full articles
Conflict and polarisation became the dominant features of many societies. The division lines go through political views, or beliefs, up to conspiracy theories that are for some real and valid. Many of these conflicts are raised because a sensitive topic lies beneath. By sensitive we mean a broader term than ‘controversial’ which refers to the probability of provoking public discussion or argument. ‘Sensitive’ is an emotion-loaded term that is significant for an individual or a group for personal, political, or social reasons, and – if raised – has a potential to cause negative feelings, or provoke a conflict. In other words, ‘sensitive’ is for us a slightly broader term than ‘controversial’ as it includes also the individual level.
Depending on the context, some sensitive and controversial topics will be strictly connected with taboos. A taboo is a cultural phenomenon encompassing everything that is socially, culturally and sometimes legally (state legislation, customary law) banned. A taboo refers thus to undiscussable topics (it is improper to talk about them) and unacceptable behaviour. Sometimes a taboo prohibits a particular cultural or social group from speaking, writing and noticing matters contained within this taboo, hence researchers’ role to gain insight into it based on scholarly exploration and ethnical approach (Luce 2019).
Contemporary societies are (over)loaded with topics that are sensitive or controversial (Hilário & Augusto 2020). These include colonisation and racism in research (Markowska-Manista 2018), Islamophobia (Górak-Sosnowska 2014), gender (Odrowąż-Coates 2015), but also national identity, human rights, or basic income. Some of them are heated on social media and fiercely discussed online, some other get more physical and turn into social movements and other social actions aimed at showing discontent or resistance, while some other turn political or violent and lead to severe consequences. Many other sensitive topics remain unspoken in the fragile context (Isaqzadeh, Gulzar & Shapiro 2020), yet valid, and might pop up some day in the future. Tackling a controversial or sensitive topic remains a challenge (Ndemanu & Davis 2019), especially if both (or more) sides are actively engaged in the dispute or conflict.
In this Special Issue, we invite you to go one step further and submit your contributions that deal with tackling sensitive or controversial topics. We are looking for case studies on local, national, or international level that are focused around a sensitive, a controversial topic and present how it has been tackled by relevant stakeholders – i.e. for lessons learnt.
We would like to invite you to submit your articles. The procedure is following:
By 15 May 2021 submit the abstract (300–350 words) with the title of the article and a short bio via e-mail to both guest editors: Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska (email@example.com) and Urszula Markowska-Manista (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Górak-Sosnowska, Katarzyna. 2014. Deconstructing Islamophobia in Poland. Story of an Internet group. Warszawa: Uniwersytet Warszawski.
Hilário, A. P., & Augusto, F. R., eds. 2020. Practical and Ethical Dilemmas in Researching Sensitive Topics with Populations Considered Vulnerable. MDPI.
Isaqzadeh, M., Gulzar, S., & Shapiro, J. 2020. “Studying Sensitive Topics in Fragile Contexts.” Pp. 173-192 in Data Collection in Fragile States. Innovations from Africa and Beyond, edited by J. Hoogeveen & U. Pape. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Luce, A., ed. 2019. Ethical reporting of sensitive topics. Lonodn: Routledge.
Markowska-Manista, Urszula. 2018. "The ethical dilemmas of research with children from the countries of the Global South. Whose participation?" Polish Journal of Educational Studies 71(1): 51-65.
Ndemanu, M. T., & Davis, C. L. 2019. Teaching Sensitive Topics in Troubled Times. Ideating Pedagogy in Troubled Times: Approaches to Identity, Theory, Teaching and Research.
Odrowąż-Coates, Anna. 2015. “Is gender neutrality a post-human phenomenon? The concept of ‘gender-neutral’ in Swedish education.” Journal of Gender and Power 3(1): 113–133.
Society Register would like to announce a call for papers on the legacies of forced migrations. The issue will focus on social, cultural, politic and economic transformations brought about by forced migrations or displacements in different regions of the world. From the end of World War II to the present day, millions of people have been forced to flee because of armed conflicts, civil wars, border changes, violence, persecution, development projects, natural disasters, environmental degradation and trafficking of people. Forced migrations brought about multifaceted social change for people who left their homes, those who had lived with them before and for those who met them later.
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