Call for papers for an edited collection on ‘Cultures of Authenticity’

Following the successful webinar series, hosted by Loughborough University this autumn, we are now seeking contribution for an edited collection on the topic of ‘authenticity’

Editors: Marie Heřmanová, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Michael Skey and Thomas Thurnell-Read, Loughborough University, UK

A widespread fascination with the authentic is said to have emerged as a response to the processes of homogenisation, rationalisation and standardisation at the heart of modernity. The concept of authenticity arose historically at a time of rapid social change and has again come to the fore where social, political, cultural and technological upheavals give rise to feelings of distrust, detachment and alienation against which supposedly authentic people, places and things are sought out for their reassuring certainty and value. Yet, there are huge contradictions and inequalities in who can make claim to authenticity and its construction and communication invariably involves competing narratives and oppositional assertions about what is authentic and how and why the authentic gains its value.

Thus, while the concept of authenticity has a long history, in recent years it has emerged as a prominent theme in many of the most pressing debates about contemporary communication and culture. In political communication there are ongoing concerns about misinformation and fake news, while the success of populist parties is often tied to their claims to be a more authentic representative of ‘the people’ than a detached and dispassionate elite. Similarly, the increasingly fractious debates around migration that are taking place across the globe often centre on the desire to protect ‘authentic’ national cultures from globalising forces and the perceived threat of ‘other’ people, products, ideas and images. In the area of culture, economy and policy, copyright, privacy and authorship remain central issues for the major media industries, while for smaller-scale content and craft producers, authenticity may operate as a key selling point and a marker of cultural distinction for both producers and consumers. Likewise, many parts of the tourism and heritage industries see the provision of authentic experiences as their raison d’etre, offering re(creations) of the past and access to ‘real’ cultural communities and traditions.

Although interest in, and research about, authenticity is growing apace, there are few, if any, publications exploring the concept from a range of disciplinary perspectives. This edited collection will address this lacuna, bring together both established scholars and early career researchers from across the social sciences and humanities and address the following key questions;

Why are debates around authenticity growing at this time?

Who does authenticity matter to and why?

How do different disciplines and subject areas approach the concept?

What are the main similarities and differences in the way that authenticity is conceptualised across the social sciences and humanities?

We therefore invite book chapter proposals from any disciplinary background for this edited collection on ‘Cultures of Authenticity’. We are interested in a broad range of chapters exploring authenticity and proposals addressing authenticity in relation to, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Authenticity, politics and political communication
  • Consumption and the use of authenticity in branding and marketing
  • Authenticity, the internet and the rise of social media
  • Authenticity in subcultures, fan cultures and celebrity culture
  • Authenticity in tourism, heritage and memorialisation
  • Authenticity, literature and authorship
  • Authenticity in sports, lifestyle and leisure pursuits and practices

Proposals should be between 500-750 words and sent to Michael Skey ( by 18th January 2021.

Proposed timescale for delivery: first draft of chapter to be submitted by June 2021, comments from editors, August 2021, final draft of chapters to be submitted by November 2021, publication in early 2022.

A proposal has been submitted to Emerald Publishers and we expect a contract to be issued in the new year.

Authors wishing to discuss chapter ideas prior to the abstract submission are welcome to contact the editors via email.


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