The Intersection of Micro- and Meso-Politics and the Digital
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Internet and Politics
Digital parties, digital movements, and hybridization challenge our accustomed perception of party organization and decision formation processes. Computational propaganda, micro-targeting, and political advertising accompany digital campaigning. E-voting poses security challenges for governments and parties. For researchers, a complication is the necessity of solid roots within the field of political science and curious vines growing into other disciplines such as social sciences and computational sciences.
The section connects scholars from various subfields to debate the effects of the Digital on politics. We invite panel and paper submissions exploring aspects of the intersection of digitalization and political behavior and political organization, whether they focus on empirical or theoretical perspectives of before-mentioned fields and others including methodological contributions to new teaching and research challenges. Comparative analyses and focus on non-Western areas are most welcome.
1 – Politics of on-site electronic voting
Régis Dandoy (Ghent University), Giulia Sandri (Catholic University of Lille)
On-site electronic voting is currently used in some of the world’s largest democracies and is considered a valid option to replace paper-based voting in others. But little is known about the impact of e-voting systems on different aspects of electoral processes, particularly on party and candidates’ behavior or voters’ behavior. This panel seeks to gather papers that consist of detailed overviews of e-voting processes as well as papers comparing cases using different technologies. Comparative papers are preferred. Yet, the panel also welcomes case studies that analyze original cases and/or new electoral processes and trials or that rely on novel databases and/or methods.
2 – Platformization of Politics
Davide Vittori (LUISS University), Isabelle Borucki (University Duisburg-Essen)
Digital platforms are at the core of several political processes. With what impact? Our main aim is to explore how pervasive is digital platform usage among different political actors. Besides the well-known social platforms, others became the cornerstone for deliberation and decision-making process of several political organizations. Do different platforms imply different communicative, campaign and organizational strategies? These platforms impose new financial and time-costly burdens for users, while at the same time strengthening the monopoly of their owners. What are the consequences for the representativeness of political actors and their organizations?
3 – Data-Driven Campaigning
Sam Power (University of Sussex), Glenn Kefford (University of Queensland)
This panel brings together experts to discuss the ways that campaigning is evolving in response to the data revolution. This is playing out in different ways in different contexts and depending on the type of campaigning being undertaken. What ties all these developments together, however, is the central role that data is playing in campaigns. The harvesting, analysis and utilization of data for targeting, as well as segmenting audiences has become ubiquitous in campaigning. Hence, further exploration and analysis of the central role of data in campaigning at large is required so that scholars can better understand the international and inter-disciplinary nature of these developments. This is the goal of this panel, and the papers will aim to explore a range of themes in this area.
4 – Regulation Demands of Digital Politics
Anika Gauja (University of Sidney), Jasmin Fitzpatrick (JGU Mainz)
Aspects of digitalization entered different spheres of politics. Oftentimes, tools and applications entered politics step-by-step – they were “supposed to be good for democracy” (Unver 2017: 127). Experience has shown that digitalization has downsides and severe consequences for democratic systems. The unwanted effects of online campaigning show the vulnerability of election processes, fake news and computational propaganda undermine the assumption of fairness in competitive election as well as the value of truth and trust. Deliberation and participation became celebrated front windows for some parties, where quantity is held in higher regard than quality. Consequently, the demand for regulation was pronounced. However, regulation poses difficulties because of the global character of the digital sphere. Besides, the search for best practices has become a challenge for practitioners and scientists.
5 – Digital Propaganda, Populism and Polarization
Susana Salgado (University of Lisbon), Belén Fernández-García (University of Lisbon)
Recent populist successes in different parts of the world raised concerns about the impact of digital propaganda and disinformation on politics and citizens' attitudes. Several countries witnessed scandals related to the widespread of fake news and the illegal use of personal data from users. This panel invites proposals assessing the specific links between populist rhetoric and digital environments that can contribute to further knowledge about misinformation strategies. These seek to feed radical and populist ideas. The impact that exposure to such digital environments might have on ideological and attitudinal polarization is investigated.
6 – Internet Intermediaries in Comparative Perspective
Daniëlle Flonk (Hertie School of Governance), Ting Luo (Hertie School of Governance)
Increasingly, governments rely on Internet companies as intermediaries for executing internet policies. The Internet governance literature has paid attention to the relationship between these actors and how this relationship shapes the digital public sphere and the regulation of online platforms. A growing field is starting to analyze governance via intermediaries, in which governments increasingly use intermediaries as Internet governance tools, for instance, by requesting them to remove content or providing user data. This panel assesses these shifting relationships between national governments and Internet companies in areas, such as content control, disinformation and hate speech.
7 – Politics of Internet voting
Micha Germann (University of Bath), Régis Dandoy (Ghent University)
Since 2005, Estonians could cast their votes remotely over the Internet. Several other countries have trialed Internet voting at the regional or local level. While Internet voting entails unique challenges in terms of electoral integrity, it also promises a series of significant benefits. Such as including a reduction in transaction costs, increased accessibility for the disabled and elderly, the pre-emption of voter errors leading to the invalidation of ballots, and reductions in administration costs. However, systematic empirical evidence on the effects of Internet voting on turnout, voter errors, and other electoral outcomes remains scarce. This panel welcomes studies shedding light on the implications of Internet voting and the keys to successful implementation of online voting in elections.