Social media are widely popular and constitute an important part of citizens’ everyday lives. They are one of the main environments where citizens manage a relevant share of their relationships and learn about political information and opportunities to get involved in the public sphere. As a result, political actors must also engage with these platforms and their online communication strategies can contribute to increasing or decreasing citizens’ already declining trust in parties and institutions.
The project addresses these issues by integrating qualitative and quantitative methods in comparative perspective. Originally focused on Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, the project has been expanded to ten countries with the addition of Denmark, France, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United States, spanning the years 2013-2018.
The research combines a vast amount of diverse data featuring online surveys of representative samples of the population with internet access, in-depth interviews with party elites and young activists, and large amount of content data from websites and social media. It draws from insights and research methods from political science, media and communication, sociology, and computer science. It brings together fifteen scholars from the University of Bologna, University of Roma Tre, and the Catholic University of Milan. The leading investigators are Cristian Vaccari (Principal Investigator), Lorenzo Mosca, and Giovanna Mascheroni. It also benefits from international collaborations with, among others, the Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) lab at New York University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the University of Oxford.