March 1, 2016: Just brainwashed? Domestic reception of Russia’s strategic narrative about the West—Joanna Szostek

On March 1, 2016 Joanna Szostek will present findings from her research in Moscow exploring how Russians interpret the strategic narratives about their country's role in the world offered by Putin, Lavrov and other leaders, and how interpretation is mediated by their presentation in Russian media. Are Russians being brainwashed or are things slightly more complicated?

Time: 5.15pm

Place: FW101

Joanna is currently in the first phase of research in her new Marie-Sklodowska Curie Global Fellowship examining how narratives from Russia are understood and interpreted in Ukraine. Her project website is here. She was previously a postdoctoral research at University College London and completed her PhD at the University of Oxford. 

2015-10-20: Talk by Vaccari, Chadwick and O'Loughlin: Dual Screening the Political: Media Events, Social Media, and Political Engagement

On October 20, Newpolcom researchers Cristian Vaccari, Andrew Chadwick, and Ben O'Loughlin are presenting new work from their ongoing project on dual screening and political engagement.

Dual Screening the Political: Media Events, Social Media, and Political Engagement

Dual screening—the complex bundle of practices that involve integrating, and switching across and between, live broadcast media and social media—is now routine for many citizens during important political media events. But do these practices shape political engagement, and if so, why? We devised a unique research design combining a large-scale Twitter dataset and a custom-built panel survey focusing on the broadcast party leaders’ debates held during the 2014 European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom. We find that relatively active, “lean-forward” practices, such as commenting live on social media as the debate unfolded, and engaging with conversations via Twitter hashtags, have the strongest and most consistent associations with political engagement.

Founders MAIN LECTURE THEATRE at 5.15. All welcome.

The article on which this talk is based will be out in the Journal of Communication soon.

2015-07-01: Workshop on Digital Media, Power, and Democracy in Election Campaigns, Washington DC

Andrew Chadwick and Jennifer Stromer-Galley (Syracuse University) are running a workshop on Digital Media, Power, and Democracy in Election Campaigns next week in Washington DC.

The workshop has been nine months in the making and it is part of the preparation for a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics, to be edited by Andrew and Jennifer. This is not an open workshop; it is by invitation only.

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 for a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics 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.

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 submissions 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 seek submissions 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. Second, scholars may focus on power relations in the communication flows between party and campaign organizations and the wider constellation of organizations within which citizen participation now occurs. Third, papers may examine the interactions between ordinary citizens and party and campaign organizations.

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.

Participation in the workshop is not mandatory for consideration for the IJPP special issue. A call for papers for the special issue will follow shortly.

For details of the workshop and to download a paper list, please visit the workshop website here.

2015-06-12: Andrew Chadwick speaking at Admirável Mundo Novo/Brave New World debate in Porto, Portugal

On June 12, Andrew Chadwick will be speaking at a debate event, Admirável Mundo Novo/Brave New World, in Porto, Portgual.

Organized by the Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos the debate will take place at Porto's Casa da Música and features speakers Evgeny Morozov, Francesca Bria, Mário Campolargo, Tyler Cowen, Ellen Jorgensen, Ana Paiva, David Brin, and Bruce Sterling.

The title of Andrew's talk is "The Digital Republic Didn’t Happen, But the News Isn’t All Bad: New Communicative Resources for Citizen Engagement."

Please visit the event website for further details.

Update, June 23: English language videos of the talks at this event, which had over 1,000 participants, are now online here. Andrew Chadwick's talk was in the session, República Digital. Full slides are here. Portugese versions can be found on the Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos website here.

2015-04-14 The End of the Material Archive? Closed workshop on 14 April 2015

The New Political Communication Unit will host an invite-only workshop on 14 April 2015 on the theme, The End of the Material Archive? The workshop stems from Andrew Hoskins' ongoing project Archives of War funded by the AHRC. 

The workshop is intended as a provocation to address the challenges of dealing with the transformations in scale and complexity of records with the transition to the digital and how this might shape future history. 

Key issues include:

The technological, security and general resource issues of handling digital records.

The impact of the loss of the subliminal context of paper on how records are searched, found, lost.

The cultural devaluation of paper (and its worth for retention) in light of the digital move.

Changing Military/Government/Public/National Archive expectations on what should be accessible to them and how and when.

The impact of the shift from the 30 to the 20 year rule in shaping the above.

The day features presentations from the Historical Branch (Army), The National Archive, and scholars Michael Moss (Northumbria), Elizabeth Shepherd (UCL), Catherine Moriarty (Brighton) and Debra Ramsey (Glasgow).

2014-11-12 Jamie Bartlett practitioner masterclass

The New Political Communication Unit is to start running practitioner masterclasses each term with professionals working in political communication. Please find details of the first of these below.

NPCU Practitioner Masterclass

Jamie Bartlett

Author of The Dark Net

Jamie Bartlett is the Director of Demos' Centre for the Analysis of Social Media.

Date: 12 November 2014, 16:00 – 18:00

Place: Windsor Building, WIN 0-05

His new book is a revelatory examination of the net's most shocking and unexplored subcultures: trolls and home-pornographers, drug dealers and hackers, political extremists and computer scientists, Bitcoin programmers and self-harmers, libertarians and vigilantes.

Jamie will talk to the New Political Communication Unit about his new book. He will also discuss Demos’ research on digital media and politics and the challenge we face as researchers in this field.

2014-10-16 Social Media and Democracy - Parliament event today

Ben O'Loughlin is speaking at a Democracy Forum seminar in Parliament on the topic ‘The impact of social media on democracy’ today, Thursday 16 October 2014, at 2-5pm. Details below, including how to attend. 


Sir Peter Luff, MP and Chairman of The Democracy Forum


Carl Miller, DEMOS

Dr Veronica Barassi, Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy

(CSGMD), Goldsmiths College

Dr Nick Anstead, Dept of Media & Communications, London School of Economics

Professor Ben O’LoughlinNew Political Communication Unit,

Royal Holloway, University of London


Committee Room 16, Committee Corridor

House of Commons

London SW1A 0AA

(Nearest tube station: Westminster)


Tel: 020-7409-5113

2014-10-29 Billur Aslan to present at Sites of Protest conference

NPCU PhD candidate Billur Aslan is to present her latest research at the Sites of Protest conference at Canterbury Christ Church University on 29 October 2014. Her presentation will draw on her interviews with activists in Syria about the use of ICT in different stages of protest. The abstract of her presentation is below.

The Challenge to Spark Collective Action via ICTs during the Syrian Uprising

ICTs have brought the most dramatic change in protest organisation during the last few decades, replacing the role of the social movement organisations. This has resulted in the emergence of a new style of protest termed “crowd-enabled movements” by Bennett. Crowd-enabled movements are formed by fine-grained networks of individuals in which digital media platforms are the most visible and integrative organizational mechanisms. The Syrian uprising could be classified as a crowd-enabled movement since it was formed by individual activities of the public that activated its own social networks in the absence of social movement organisations. However, in contrast to other crowd-enabled movements, ICTs were not the main organisational hub of Syrian protesters. This research analyses the ignition and mobilisation phases of the Syrian uprising from March 2011 to July 2011, exploring why ICTs could not acquire and develop significant roles in these phases. The analysis draws upon a selection of original interviews with Syrian activists alongside mainstream and social media content analysis. The data collected will reveal that variations in political culture may affect the way in which dissidents utilise the technology. Under the surveillance of an oppressive state culture and an obvious lack of past protest experiences, Syrians first used ICTs within a limited capacity. They formed their uprising with different other offline methods in new sites of protests, in this case the mosques. So far, a substantial number of scholars who have examined the role of the ICTs in the protests share the idea that it is people’s usage of technology - not the technology itself - that can change social processes. This research takes this argument one step further and claim that people’s usage of technology is also a dependent variable that is linked to the political culture in the country.

To contact Billur about her research, email:

Sites of Protest is the third event organised by the MeCCSA Social Movements Network since its foundation in 2013. This conference is organised in conjunction with the Canterbury Media Discourse Group at Canterbury Christ Church University. Thanks to Dr Ruth Sanz Sabido for organising it.