Carl J. Couch Internet Research Award 2017

The Carl Couch Center issues an international call for student-authored papers to be considered for Carl J. Couch Internet Research Award. The Couch Center welcomes both theoretical and empirical papers that apply symbolic interactionist approaches to internet studies.

According to basic symbolic interactionist premises, what we understand as self, identity, relationship, and cultural formations are constructed dialogically and interactively.  While the works of George H. Mead, Georg Simmel, Erving Goffman and other leading symbolic interactionists have been integral to the study of social interaction, Carl Couch was among the first from this tradition to suggest the importance of engaging in the study of mediated interaction. It is critical that symbolic interactionists move boldly forward, beyond Couch's initial suggestion, to study what has become for many a dominant form of communication in their everyday life.
 
Whether we research identities, emotion, memory, family, work, career, presentations of self, deception, love, loss or other areas, the impact of mediated communication is felt by those interacting within it.  As internet-related media continue to influence our everyday interactions--not only with other people but also with technologies, devices, algorithms, platform parameters, and so forth--it becomes crucial for symbolic interactionists to attend to the role of these mediating factors in the interaction process.
 
We encourage any paper that uses a symbolic interactionist approach in internet studies. We also encourage papers that explore the interface between deliberate social interaction and structured (or automated) interactions sponsored or enacted by various technological features, exploring not only how identities, relations, and social formations are negotiated through social interactions, but also how these interactions are mediated further through the use or capacities of various technologies.
 
Papers will be evaluated based on the quality of (1) mastery of symbolic interactionist approaches and concepts, (2) originality, (3) organization, (4) presentation, and (5) advancement of knowledge. Those contemplating entering should note that an interactionist approach demands thoughtful analysis, and not mere description, of social interactions. Evaluation will be administered by a Review Committee of:

    Mark D. Johns, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
    Camille Johnson-Yale, Lake Forest College, Illinois
    Lois Scheidt, Indiana University, Bloomington

Competition is open to graduate or undergraduate students of all disciplines. Works that are published or accepted for publication are not eligible for award consideration. Entries should be in English and not exceed 30 pages (approximately 7500 words) in length, including references and appendices. Limit of one entry per student per year.

The top paper will receive Couch Award to be presented at the 2017 meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (aoir.org) in Tartu, Estonia. The top paper will be awarded a certificate and a cash prize of $300 US and the author will be invited to present their work at a session of the AoIR conferece at the University of Tartu, October 18-21, 2017.

Candidates should send a copy of their paper electronically, along with information concerning the location and level of their studies, to Mark Johns at mjohns@luther.edu Application deadline is May 15, 2017. Notification of award will be sent by June 15.

Those with questions or comments about Couch Award application, please contact:

Mark D. Johns
Communication Studies
Luther College
Decorah, Iowa USA
US phone: (563) 387-1347
E-mail: mjohns [at] luther.edu