Cultures of Authenticity: A two-day interdisciplinary symposium hosted by the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC), Loughborough University, 6th-7th May 2020


Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Prof Gunn Enli (University of Oslo)

Author of Mediated Authenticity: How Media Constructs Reality


Prof Sarah Banet-Weiser (London School of Economics)

Author of Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture


Topic of the Symposium

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.

We therefore invite paper proposals from any disciplinary background for this two-day Symposium hosted by the Centre for Research in Communications and Culture at Loughborough University. We are interested in a broad range of papers exploring authenticity and abstract submissions 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


Abstracts of up to 250 words for presentations of 20 minutes are invited to be submitted by Friday 28th February. Abstract, title, author(s) name and institutional affiliation should be sent to


Registration rates are the following:

Delegate £60

Concessionary Delegate £40

Key Dates

  • Abstract submission deadline:Friday 28th February 2020
  • Abstracts notification: Friday 13th March 2020
  • Presenter booking deadline: Friday 10th April 2020
  • Initial programme sent to participants:Friday 17th April 2020
  • Conference: 6th & 7th May 2020

Event Organisation Team

Dr Michael Skey, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies

Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, Senior Lecturer in Sociology