Newcastle Critical Discourse Group

Symposium - Discourses of Disorder

Two day Symposium - Discourses of Disorder: Representations of Riots, Strikes and Protests

Newcastle University, 15-16 October 2015

Organised by Darren Kelsey (Newcastle) and Chris Hart (Lancaster)


Call for Papers:

Instances of civil disorder in the form of riots, strikes and protests have become increasingly frequent in response to economic decline and other structural conditions, in the UK, Europe and globally.  Far from political apathy, these activities suggest increased levels of public concern and civic engagement.  We see such forms of engagement, as well as media coverage and government responses, as part of a political process which contains a significant discursive dimension.  Discourse plays a fundamental part in defining agendas, voicing objections, framing debates, legitimating or delegitimating actions, and in formulating policies. We therefore understand the discursive practices of social movements, the media and policy-makers, as political practices. Understanding the complexities of this political process and the discursive dimensions involved requires a multidisciplinary approach addressing issues of language, image, journalism, media, power and political economy. In so far as media and discourse research each provide insights into our understanding of social, historical, political and economic contexts and conflicts, the symposium will be of interest for scholars concerned more broadly with semiotics and social practice. 

From a multidisciplinary perspective, this two-day symposium seeks to explore the discourses of social movements, the media and policy makers, the relations between them, and the role they play in the political process.  Papers presenting perspectives from Social Movement Studies, Media and Journalism Studies, as well as Critical (Multimodal) Discourse Studies are particularly welcome.  We are interested in papers which explore, within international social and political settings, the discursive dimensions of disorder representing or responding to a range of causes/contexts which might include but are not limited to:

  • Industrial disputes and trade unions
  • Environmental activism 
  • Ethnic and race relations
  • Austerity discourse and protests  
  • Capitalist conditions and conflicts
  • “Populist” protest movements
  • International protest movements
  • Digital activism and power
  • Surveillance, control and protests
  • Policing and law & order

Whilst we are currently witnessing renewed levels of civil disorder, this is by no means a recent phenomenon.  We are therefore interested in historical as well as contemporary instances of civil disorder and, further, in the intertextual relations between Discourses of disorder past and present. 

We are pleased to confirm the participation of two guest speakers:

  • Tracey Jensen (University of East London)
  • Nicholas Jones (author and journalist)

Abstracts of up to 400 words should be submitted in a MS Word document to by 31st May 2015.  Please include in the document your name, affiliation and paper title.

Papers will be allocated 20 minutes plus time for questions.  All papers will be in plenary format with equal time for discussion.  Only a limited number of submissions can therefore be accepted.  However, non-presenters are welcome to attend.  Some sessions will be designed for roundtable discussion and open debate, so participation will be inclusive to all delegates.

It is hoped that the symposium will lead to an edited volume of the same theme.  Following the symposium, presenters will therefore be invited to submit a written version of their presentation to be considered for publication in an edited volume to be submitted to a major international publisher.


There is no registration fee for this symposium.  However, all delegates, including presenters, must register before 31 August.  Please complete the registration form.

Programme and Abstracts

Book of Abstracts

Final Programme


The symposium will take place in ROOM 2.25 of Newcastle University's The Core.  Maps and information on how to find the venue are available here.

Registration will be held on the ground floor.


We recommend staying at the Vermont Hotel, which is by the quayside in the city centre and only 10 minutes walk from the university.  Rooms are available at a conference discount rate of £75 per night.  Please book before the 14th September and quote reference “56005 (Discourse Conference)” for the reduced rate. 

Other hotels in Newcastle include:


Location maps with transport and travel directions to Newcastle and information on parking near the university:

Newcastle is easily accessible by train and by plane.  The most convenient airport is Newcastle Airport, which has a direct Metro link with the city centre.  For planning national rail journeys, visit:

General City Maps and further travel guidance from Newcastle Gateshead Initiative are available at

Both Newcastle Airport and Newcastle Central Station have direct Metro links to Haymarket Metro Station, which is right in front of Newcastle University.