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Thematic issue n° 55 “The constitution of digital authorities in the production and circulation of information”

Dossier thématique n° 55 « La constitution des autorités numériques dans la production et la circulation de l’information »

Coordination: Évelyne Broudoux (Dicen-IDF, Cnam-INTD) and Madjid Ihadjadene (Paragraphe, Université de Paris 8).

Changes in the authoritative can be observed in networked digital communication devices though written, textual or imagery production. While the notions of collaboration, participation, sharing are used by social networking platform owners to publicize their projects, the question of digital authority which is at the heart of the production and circulation of content on these platforms needs to be more deeply elaborated. This issue aims to address what are the constituents of digital authorities at work on the networks.

The new actors of digital authority

The current period appears to be characterized by a declining trust in information sources and professionals. Observing what are the changes in the processes of recognition, legitimization, authorization of transformed speech (reputation, credibility, presence, identity, authority, etc.) is a priority for a clearer understanding of this phenomena. The emergence of new actors questions the relationship of power and influence (horizontality, circulation of information) in societies and organizations; a typology of these actors is needed.

More precisely, the direct exchanges carried out in discussion and publication spaces occur in accordance with systems of relevance that would have to be deconstructed, according to the different contexts of use. To participate, trust is necessary, but this climate of trust is first of all caused by attention capturing technologies that influence human behavior (e.g. work of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab), which also raises the question of the systemic role played by the interfaces.

Digital authorities and documentary modeling

Digital authority can also be questioned in info-documentary terms by the organization of knowledge. The evolution of knowledge-mapping systems in scholarly publishing environments tends to granularize what is quoted. Encoding technologies such as linked open-data insert references, comments, and automatizable recommendations into an ever-thinner web of references. The question of the responsibilities of the author, the publisher, the reader and the infomediaries in the information architecture arises when everyone is able to enrich on their own the original production.

The role of algorithms in the definition of authorities

The algorithmic editorialization already well known with collaborative filtering and recommendation engines is becoming more subtle. Thus the figures of the "robot-author" have become commonplace in artistic creation and in processing press information. The question arises of a breach that could take place in the contracts of intentionality and originality linking the creative function to the interpretative function, when the algorithmic creation is passed over in silence. The consequences of these new ways of doing things could also lie in the amplification of a phenomenon of distrust. It is currently identifiable in the adherence to conspiracy theories and revivals of irrational beliefs on social networks. Disintermediation based on the absence of an identifiable author also questions the resulting lack of liability. In a broader sense, device modeling distributes authority in organizational processes (e.g., Wikipedia, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, etc.).

The expected contributions to this issue can be theoretical or empirical and address, but not limited to, the following fields: political, journalistic, educational, documentary, religious, artistic, etc.

The dossier will gather articles according to the following orientations of which we propose some examples:

  • authority as a relationship of trust: the factors for establishing an authoritative relationship and the resulting influence,

  • distributed organizational devices and platforms: citizen participation in knowledge development, blockchain proof management,

  • the authority and the systems of organization of the knowledge: the evaluation, the validation of the contents, the governance on Wikipedia,

  • editorialization and authority: the role of the publisher and that of the valorisation of works facing automation,

  • communication and organizational authority: changes in the managerial management of companies.

Scientific committee

Camille Alloing (Université de Québec à Montréal, Canada)

Nicolas Bencherki (Université TÉLUQ, Canada)

Stéphane Chaudiron (Université de Lille)

Lucile Desmoulins (Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

Antonietta Folino (Universitá della Calabria, Italie)

Seth van Hooland (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgique)

Isto Huvila (Uppsala University, Suède)

Bernard Jacquemin (Université de Lille)

Alice Krieg-Planque (Université Paris-Est Créteil)

Guillaume Latzko-Toth (Université Laval, Canada)

Olivier Le Deuff (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)

Basma Makhlouf Shabou (Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale, Suisse)

Alexandra Saemmer (Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis)

Brigitte Simonnot (Université de Lorraine)

Lise Verlaet (Université de Montpellier)

Review process

All submissions will go through a two-part review process:

  • submission of an abstract (1,500 to 2,000 words) which should include a presentation of objectives and principle arguments, explain the originality of the paper and provide key bibliographical references;

  • for accepted abstracts, a second evaluation will take place for final papers (30,000-40,000 characters including spaces). No definite decision will be taken before reception of the full paper.

Instructions for authors are available at the journal webpage:

Papers will be peer-reviewed by at least two anonymous referees.

Proposals may be made in French or English. The paper will be published in French.

Abstracts should be submitted in Word (.doc) or Writer (.odt) and PDF, and sent to the following email addresses:

Important dates

October 15, 2019: Abstract submission deadline

December 15, 2019: Notification of acceptance/refusal

March 15, 2020: Preliminary version of article due

June 15, 2020: Final version of accepted article due

December 2020: Publication date of issue 52 of Études de communication (paper and digital)


Arendt H. (1972). « Qu’est-ce que l’autorité ? ». In La crise de la culture. Paris, Gallimard, p. 121-252.

Alloing C. (2017). « La réputation pour questionner l’autorité informationnelle : vers une "autorité réputationnelle" ». In Quaderni, vol. 2, p. 33-41‬.

Broudoux E. (2017). « Autorité scientifique et épistémique à l’épreuve de la mesure des citations ». In Études de communication, vol. 48, p. 177-198.

Birnholtz J. P. (2006). « What does it mean to be an author? The intersection of credit, contribution, and collaboration in science ». In Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 57, n° 13, p. 1758-1770.

Benoit-Barné C., Cooren F. (2009). « The accomplishment of authority through presentification: how authority is distributed among and negotiated by organizational members ». In Management Communication Quarterly, vol. 23, n° 1, p. 5-31.

Collerette P. (2002). Pouvoir, leadership et autorité dans les organisations, Sainte-Foy (Québec), Presses de l'Université du Québec.

Favier L., Ihadjadene M. (2008). « Langages documentaires : vers une "crise de l’autorité"? ». In Sciences de la société, vol. 75, p. 11-21.

Gadeau O. (2015). « La (re)construction de l’autorité informationnelle dans les pratiques des journalistes québécois sur Twitter ». In Communication, vol. 33, n° 2.

Huvila I. (2019). « Authoring social reality with documents: From authorship of documents and documentary boundary objects to practical authorship ». In Journal of Documentation, vol. 75, n° 1, p. 44-61.

Lewandowsky S., Ecker U. K., Cook, J. (2017). « Beyond misinformation: Understanding and coping with the “post-truth” era ». In Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, vol. 6, n° 4, p. 353-369.

Montal T., Reich Z. (2017). « I, robot. You, journalist. Who is the author? Authorship, bylines and full disclosure in automated journalism ». In Digital journalism, vol. 5, n° 7, p. 829-849.

Rieh S. Y. (2002). « Judgment of information quality and cognitive authority in the Web ». In Journal of the American society for information science and technology, vol. 53, n° 2, p. 145-161.

Taylor J. R., Van Every E. J. (2015). When organization fails: why authority matters. New York, Routledge.

Vásquez C., Bencherki N., Cooren F., Sergi V. (2018). « From ‘matters of concern’ to ‘matters of authority’: Studying the performativity of strategy from a communicative constitution of organization (CCO) approach ». In Long Range Planning, vol. 51, n° 3, p. 417-435.

Van Zundert J. J. (2015). « Author, editor, engineer — Code & the rewriting of authorship in scholarly editing ». In Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, vol. 40, n° 4, p. 349-375.

Wilson P. (1983). Second-hand knowledge: An inquiry into cognitive authority. Westport, CT, Greenwood.

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