Special Issue "Media and Communication Theory and the Regulation of the Networked Society"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 13 April 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Pascale Chapdelaine
Guest Editor
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada
Interests: regulation of e-commerce; privacy; communications; big data; consumer protection; contracts; intellectual property law
Assist. Prof. Vincent Manzerolle
Guest Editor
Department of Communication, Media and Film, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada
Interests: media theory; political economy of digital platforms; apps & mobile payment systems; environmental impact of digital infrastructure
Assoc. Prof. Michael Darroch

Guest Editor
School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada
Interests: media art histories; visual culture
Mr. Philip Morais
Guest Editor
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada
CEO/Founder, Sea Horse Ink
Interests: law and communication studies; the Toronto school of communication; Marshall McLuhan; media ecology

Special Issue Information


Unprecedented recent events have created a more general public awareness of the necessity of digital media platforms, devices, and services for the maintenance of day-to-day social and economic cohesion. In Canada, these events were featured in the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review report Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act (The “Report”) in January 2020, making them seem even more consequential. This is a transformative policy and regulatory framework that recommends much greater sensitivity with regards to the profound impact of digital media technologies, platforms, and business models on all facets of Canada’s economy, culture, and democratic institutions. The Report calls for a new regulatory regime which can replace an outdated system that was structured by a media environment that no longer exists. They explain that “[w]hat is different and challenging is the new network environment in which everything is connected and cognitized. Traditional approaches to regulation are no longer enough; lines of business and activities, once siloed, have blurred. New areas of risk have emerged. These issues must all be addressed” (p. 10). Although not explicitly stated, what the Report asks for is nothing short of a comprehensive theory of the media in a networked society, including ways to assess and anticipate the impact of new techniques and technologies of communication.

Media theory and scholarship worldwide have engaged with such concerns, and in Canada, these have been approached from an arguably unique set of geopolitical, geographic, and cultural perspectives, reflecting the fraught history of Canadian nationhood. Our project asks current scholars at the intersection of media and legal theory to reflect upon and question the extent to which this diverse set of Canadian and other scholarly perspectives might address the concerns outlined above. Canada has already served as an incubator for important theoretical media insights. For example, Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad of media effects offered a heuristic for more holistically assessing the potentially unintended consequences of new media forms for individuals and collectives. Like other works by canonical figures in the Canadian media theory tradition, McLuhan’s project should not be considered a final and complete work, but rather a set of challenges meant to expand collective preparation and the response to our own state of conditionedness. Our goal with this collection is to foster a broader conversation between legal theorists and communication theorists that are engaging with, critiquing, and/or building upon this tradition.


This Special Issue will probe connections between the historical and intellectual development of media studies in Canada and elsewhere, and the field’s potential influence on legal thought and theorization, in Canada and beyond. This Special Issue brings together scholars from various disciplines, including, but not limited to; law, communication, media, the arts, geography, and political science, to reflect on the challenges posed by the regulation of digital media platforms as liminal spaces that undermine clear distinctions between public and private. 

To address these disparate topics, our collection asks contributors to consider how canonical and contemporary media scholarship in Canada and worldwide might accommodate current and future legal scholarship focused on digital media. How can an attention to geography, including national sovereignty and the cross-border flows of goods and information, help us to identify intellectual and/or methodological markers that might usefully integrate law and media studies within this new utility?

We invite contributions that address the following questions:

  • Can contemporary media theoretical and legal scholarship converge in ways that would help theorize contradictions between patterns of globalization (economies, cultures, technologies) and the reassertion of national sovereignty and border control?
  • How do we highlight the relationship between changing media environments and regulatory frameworks?
  • Does Canada have a unique geopolitical vantage point from which to explore the interface of media theory and jurisprudence, as they apply to regulation and policy? 

This collection invites contributions reflecting on theories of media and communication and innovations in legal thought and analysis. The contemporary media environment is a new juridical space requiring novel and unconventional approaches that are sensitive to the affordances and unintended consequences of new media. Topics may include:

  • issues related to personal data sovereignty
  • facial recognition
  • algorithmic discrimination
  • e-commerce
  • consumer protection
  • cryptocurrency
  • Internet of Things
  • cybersecurity
  • machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • state and corporate surveillance strategies
  • censorship and freedom of expression
  • drones and autonomous vehicles
  • economic and environmental sustainability
  • pandemics and digital social cohesion
  • telework platforms
  • other issues of pressing importance

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposal title and an abstract of 500–1000 words summarizing their intended contribution. This should include the research question(s), methodology and keywords. In addition, please also provide the author's name, author's title, their function, and their university affiliation. Please send this to the Laws editorial office (). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring a proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review.


  • Abstract Submission Deadline: 1st September 2020;
  • Notification of Acceptance: 30th September 2020;
  • Full manuscript deadline: 13th April 2021.

Assoc. Prof. Pascale Chapdelaine
Assist. Prof. Vincent Manzerolle
Assoc. Prof. Michael Darroch
Mr. Philip Morais
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • media & communication theory and regulation
  • legal theory
  • Canada
  • digital platforms
  • privacy
  • personal data
  • AI
  • algorithms
  • consumer protection
  • Marshall McLuhan
  • globalisation
  • sovereignty

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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