DIGITAL MEDIA, POWER, AND DEMOCRACY IN ELECTION CAMPAIGNS: A WORKSHOP
Convenors: Andrew Chadwick and Jennifer Stromer-Galley
Over recent years, the uprisings in Eastern Europe and the Middle East have focused attention on the question of digital media and political power. This has resulted in a wave of research on the relationships between technological change, mobilization, and revolutionary activism in authoritarian and semi-democratic political contexts.
While this research has generated important insights, we suggest that it should now be joined by fresh analysis of the role of digital media in election campaigns. We call for papers that are international or comparative in orientation, that present new evidence, and that connect the study of digital media explicitly with questions concerning power and democracy. We invite authors to examine established democracies both in and beyond the United States and Europe, and in emerging and what comparative regime theorists have termed “difficult democracies” across the world.
Our aim is to bring together scholars for a two-day workshop at Greenberg House, Syracuse University’s base in Washington, D.C., on June 25 and 26, 2015. Papers will be considered for peer review and potential inclusion in a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics (IJPP) to be published in 2016.
Central to the political life of all types of democracies are the organizations, practices, and media technologies of election campaigns, yet we know surprisingly little about the changes that have occurred in this field over recent years. We invite papers that explore what we see as the increasingly contested issue of the balance of power between political elites, digital media actors, and citizens in election campaigning. Our aim is to orient this project around two classical and fruitfully contested concepts: power and democracy.
We are keen to attract papers that explore continuity and change in the power relations that shape campaigns. We conceive of these power relations in three principal ways.
First, we see a need to focus on the internal communication structures of party and campaign organizations. How and to what extent have digital media changed the organizational characteristics of parties and campaigns? Are internal hierarchies becoming flatter? Are newer forms of communicative expertise shifting the balance of power between candidates, elite campaign professionals, and rank and file activists? What roles are emerging for the growing practices of data analytics, dataveillance, and voter activation?
Second, scholars may focus on power relations in the communication flows between party and campaign organizations and the wider constellation of organizations and quasi-organizations within which citizen participation now occurs. To what extent are the boundaries between parties and campaigns and looser citizen activist networks and advocacy groups being blurred by the use of digital media? What is the role of specialist digital consultants? To what extent have the mid-2000s predictions about the loosening of communicative and organizational discipline in parties and campaigns proved correct? Are citizens’ and activists’ uses of digital media playing a role in hastening the decline or even the “death” of political parties, as has been widely discussed, for example, in the United Kingdom over recent years?
Third, papers may examine the interactions between ordinary citizens and party and campaign organizations. As campaigns and parties spread their messaging and involvement efforts to social media, the affordances of those media open up possibilities for increased interaction and communication between ordinary citizens and the official campaign apparatus. But the presence of affordances does not guarantee their use. In what ways are citizens involving themselves in the workings of campaigns? In what ways or to what extent are parties and campaigns actually opening up their organizations, messaging, and planning to ordinary citizens? Are such actions carefully structured by campaigns or are they genuinely open to the ideas and strategies of citizens?
We primarily seek papers that advance empirical knowledge. Undergirding our interest in these themes, however, is intense normative curiosity about the potential democratizing effects of digital media, not only in relatively “settled” liberal-democratic contexts but also in the globally important difficult-democratic cases that increasingly inform thinking about real-world democracy, such as, for example, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, the Balkan states, and parts of central and eastern Europe. Our concern with the difficult democracies emerges because it could be the case that in these political systems important power shifts are more likely.
We would like authors to directly address the question of whether the adoption of digital media is increasing citizens’ influence over the hierarchical organizational structures that have typically dominated parties and election campaigns since the rise of the mass broadcast era. We also want authors to think about conditionality: the balance of forces and causes that shape whether changes in mediated campaigning are democratizing or not democratizing in their effects.
We have no orthodoxy regarding data and methods. We foresee a range of approaches: single country and comparative studies; papers adopting methods of big data analysis; those adopting quantitative approaches; and those situated within qualitative and ethnographic traditions.
PROCEDURE AND SCHEDULE
*November 14, 2014: 500-word paper proposals due. Please email your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
*November 28, 2014: Requests for full papers to authors and invitations to the workshop at Greenberg House, Syracuse University’s dedicated base in Washington D.C., to be held June 25–26, 2015.
*June 1, 2015: Full workshop papers to Andrew and Jennifer.
*June 25–26, 2015: Workshop.
Note: The conference conveners are working to find sponsorships to help defray the costs of attending the workshop.
*June 30, 2015: Call for papers for the special issue of the IJPP.
*July 31, 2015: Full papers submitted to IJPP for anonymous peer review.
*Peer review process completed by January 2016.
*Publication of special issue in mid to late 2016.
ABOUT THE CONVENORS
Andrew Chadwick is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he founded the New Political Communication Unit in 2007. Since the late 1990s he has authored numerous publications about digital media and political communication. His books include: The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power (Oxford University Press, 2013), which won the Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association’s Section on Information Technology and Politics; The Handbook of Internet Politics, co-edited with Philip N. Howard (Routledge 2009); and Internet Politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies (Oxford University Press, 2006), which won the American Sociological Association Outstanding Book Award (Communication and Information Technologies Section) and is among the most widely-cited books in its field. Andrew is the founding Editor of the Oxford University Press book series Oxford Studies in Digital Politics, which currently features 13 books, a founding Associate Editor (2006-09) and Senior Editorial Board member (ongoing) of the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and an editorial board member of the new Sage journal, Social Media and Society. In 2009 he guest-edited a special issue of the Journal of Information Technology and Politics on the theme of politics and web 2.0. Andrew’s website is at http://www.andrewchadwick.com and he tweets as @andrew_chadwick
Jennifer Stromer-Galley is Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, and Vice President of the Association of Internet Researchers. She has been studying “social media” since before it was called social media. She is an expert on human interaction through digital media, and has written extensively about political institutions’ uses of the internet for governance and for campaigning. She recently published Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age (Oxford University Press, 2014), which details the ways presidential campaigns have adapted to and adopted digital media in the United States across five election cycles. She has also developed measures of influence, leadership, and discussion quality through social media. Jenny has published over 40 journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters, and has been co-Principal Investigator of projects that have received over $12 million in support from the National Science Foundation, IARPA, and the Air Force Research Lab. She is currently Associate Editor for the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Communication. Her website is www.stromer-galley.com, and she tweets as @profjsg.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRESS/POLITICS
The International Journal of Press/Politics (IJPP), published quarterly, is an interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of media and politics in a globalized world. The Journal publishes theoretical and empirical research which analyzes the linkages between the news media and political processes and actors.