Political Communication in the Digital Age
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Political Communication
Political communication research has never been more relevant than it is today, as digital media have permeated deeply into all political, social, and personal spheres. Citizens use digital platforms to inform themselves, form opinions, express their views, and organize collective action, as well as for entertainment and socializing. Politicians, parties, but also transnational political actors use these platforms to reach, persuade and influence voters and citizens.
Research over the past decade has uncovered many dark sides of digital publics, from hate speech, incivility, and low levels of deliberation, the spread of mis- and disinformation, conspiracy narratives, or populist, and radical-right content, manipulation through inauthentic communication, to negative campaigning, affective polarization, and news avoidance. Against the backdrop of multiple crises, from Russia’s war against Ukraine to the energy crisis, and the ongoing pandemic, it is imperative to deepen our understanding of these phenomena that challenge liberal democracies.
As platforms and digital communication continue to evolve at a fast pace, offline communication is also being transformed. The acquisition of Twitter by a billionaire, to provide a specific example, has implications for the dissemination of information to the broader public, the practices of journalists and advertisers, and the venues where researchers exchange knowledge.
Additionally, rapid developments in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence change the content that we encounter online and the logics of its production. Some of these developments, such as the evolution of political campaigns into data-driven campaigns, are already in full swing, while new shifts with far-reaching implications are imminent, such as the adoption of text-generation large language models by a broader public. Such technological disruptions not only raise new theoretical questions for political communication research, but also provide opportunities for methodological innovations in the field of (computer-assisted) media, journalism and political communication research.
This Section aims to bring together contributions from the field of political communication research in the broadest sense. Broadly speaking, we have a special interest in contributions that enhance our understanding of digital political communication.
We look forward to receiving submissions on traditional aspects of political communication such as election campaigns, party communication, political journalism, mediatization, and media effects, as well as submissions targeting topics such as mis- and disinformation, visual communication, citizen-generated communication and citizen competences, news avoidance, negativity and incivility, gender and power imbalances, or populist and radical-right communication.
Papers on other topics are also welcome, insofar as they relate to the broad field of political communication. We appreciate Papers using content analyses, experimental designs, survey methods, qualitative methods, mixed methods, as well as theoretical contributions. In particular, we welcome contributions that advance the methods of research designs within the field. We particularly encourage submissions that use open science practices to promote transparency in the field of political communication research.
We encourage full Panel submissions, but also propose the following ten Panels:
1 Traditional Campaigns and Elite Communication
2 The Power of (Political) Visual Communication
3 Capturing and Combatting Mis- and Disinformation in the Digital Age
4 Citizen Focus: Competences and Citizen-Generated Content Online
5 Political Journalism and News Avoidance
6 Media Effects on Political Attitudes and Behaviours
7 The Role of Emotion: Hate Speech, Incivility, and Negativity
8 Social Media, Fragmentation and Social Movements
9 Data-Driven Campaigns: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities
10 Advancing Research Designs and Methods in Political Communication