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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

New Digital Media Developments and Public Opinion in Electoral Climates

Social Media
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Carolina Galais
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Panel Discussant
Carolina Galais
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

09/09/2016 11:00 - 12:40
Building: Faculty of Arts Floor: 2 Room: FA200
As digital technologies reach new countries and population subgroups, some classical conclusions on the interplay between digital media and public opinion are being challenged. The so-called digital divide gets narrow but new applications and abilities are needed for an efficient online experience. Digital politics were assumed to be “politics as usual”, but online public opinion climates are a new concern for incumbents, and may even put institutions in a bin. Citizens are supposed to skip boring political information if they are not interested in politics, yet the sources of political information are growing exponentially, evidencing an increasing demand for digital media outlets and other new formats conveying political information, with unknown effects on the way citizens perceive the world and politics.

Electoral campaigns are times where beliefs about the limited effects of digital media on public opinion are put a hard test, as regular citizens become interested in politics, if only momentarily. Even the dividing lines between the Internet and public opinion get blurred during electoral campaigns, in a way that tapping twitter trending topics might be a more efficient measure of opinion climates than regular surveys. Electoral mobilization also benefits from the lower costs of using social networking sites, proselytism efforts –both from individuals’ social network and from the candidates- getting more intense and evident that they were before the advent of social networking sites.

This panel welcomes works aiming to shed some light on the new developments at the interplay between digital media and public opinion, with a special emphasis on electoral campaigns. Are there new findings on this respect against established research? Does the increasing number of digital media outlets have the same effects on public opinion polarization and fragmentation than the wide offline media supply? Are online mobilization and contact attempts more effective than the traditional methods? Are there new “digital divides”, besides the original one distinguishing users and non-users? Do digital media have shorter-lived effects than offline media stimuli?

We encourage the participation of researches using new, genuine data (i.e. actual navigation data; big data) collected immediately before, during or after an election and capturing citizens’ political views and concerns. Creative measures and research designs aiming to tap the many uses of social networking sites, media outlets and searching engines are also very appreciated, and so are papers with an emphasis on causality –e.g. using panel data or experiments- .

Paper List

Title Details
Agreeing to Disagree? The Twitter Debate on Catalonia’s Independence View Paper Details
Fragmented outlets, fragmented voters? View Paper Details
Media Diets and Contested Political Events: The Analysis of News Consumption during Salient Elections in Spain View Paper Details
The informative effects of electoral campaigns: A panel analysis of the Spanish 2015 elections View Paper Details
The Personalization of Italian Politics between Television and the Internet View Paper Details
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