“Parties and Campaigning in the Digital Era


At the ECPR joint sessions in Antwerp, there was a workshop on “Parties and Campaigning in the Digital Era”, convened by Andrea Römmele and Rachel Gibson.


Elections worldwide have all seen parties launch social media initiatives to communicate with voters , many copying directly from 2008 efforts of Barack Obama and his mobilization and activist oriented ‘MyBO.com’ site. Beyond the surface-level similarities, however, to what extent are these developments and use of web 2.0 by political actors taking hold and promoting a new more devolved style of citizen-led forms of activism – modes that challenges the top-down model of the professionally managed campaign that has emerged in a wide range of national election contexts over the past three decades ? Alternatively, are the new internet tools actually allowing central elites to more closely monitor, direct and coordinate local voluntary efforts ? Perhaps they make little difference and simply reinforce existing practices ? The question of the impact of digital tools for political organizations in terms of their internal organizational structures, relationships to members / supporters, and overall contents and style of their communication with voters are one’s that this workshop will address. More generally through drawing on comparative examples we will seek to provoke debate on whether we are witnessing a second wave of the ‘Americanization’ of campaign style ? Or whether there is a more diverse and pluralized approach to social media campaigns worldwide ?


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