ECPR General Conference
Universität Hamburg, Hamburg
22 - 25 August 2018

Digital Politics and Politics of the Digital

Cyber Politics
International Relations
Political Participation
Political Parties
Section Number
Section Chair
Jasmin Fitzpatrick
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Section Co-Chair
Meryem Marzouki
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

What are the remaining “non-digital” areas of Politics? Citizenship and collective action today are digitally organized, online and offline. Electoral campaigns are affected by the extensive use of social media. Voting became electronic in several countries. Journalism faces changes in the production and dissemination of news. What was once the sole government affair, such as diplomacy, norm- and policy-making, is profoundly transforming with demands for more democracy and inclusiveness.

Conversely, who could still claim that digital technologies’ design and uses are neutral? In an era of big data and algorithmic learning, profiling and predictive decision-making, governments and increasingly private actors are imposing norms and exercising power – through surveillance, censorship, and subtle or less subtle political influencing and manipulation - over citizens, organizations and institutions, including (other) governments.

We invite Panel and Paper submissions exploring all dimensions of the relationship between Politics and the Digital, whether they focus on empirical or theoretical perspectives of before mentioned fields and other. Comparative analyses and focus on non-Western geopolitical areas are most welcome. This includes also methodological contributions on new teaching and research challenges.

Panel 1 – Political Organisations and the Digital
Chairs: Fabienne Greffet (Université de Lorraine/Sciences Po Grenoble, France) and Jasmin Fitzpatrick (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany)
Digital technologies have deeply challenged both the internal and external communication of political organizations. Membership and the internal structure are affected by the creation of "movements", digitalizing party linkage and many internal activities. The emergence of Pirate Parties, making digital technologies a political issue, is another indication of the intertwining between Politics and the Digital. This Panel questions the concept of political organization in the digital era, and the models that have been developed in academia over time to analyse these changes.

Panel 2 – E-Diplomacy - How the digital age shapes international and security affairs
Chairs: Jasmin Siri (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany) and Madeleine Myatt (University of Bielefeld, Germany)
This Panel discusses how and to which extent the digital age shapes the diplomatic world. It analyses effects of current developments, subsumed under the term E-Diplomacy, on political communication and language, power politics and relations as well as security policies. Topics include: mapping the diplomatic landscape, digital diplomats and the rise of a new diplomatic tongue, E-Diplomacy as a changing mode of observation and digitalization of bureaucracy.

Panel 3 – Populism Online: Entering Politics through the Digital Door
Chairs: Darren G. Lilleker (Bournemouth University, UK) and Michael T. Oswald (University of Passau, Germany)
Recent elections have seen populists tapping into a vein of resentment in parts of the society, by using online-strategies to convey political messages designed to manipulate citizens. This Panel sheds light on how populists sensed a potential, and capitalized on it by communicating in ways that resonated with an audience that feels left behind. The aim is to understand how populist strategists use the internet in order to achieve their objectives, how this translates into politics and, ultimately, how this impact democracy.

Panel 4 – Governing the Digital in an Era of Platforms and Big Data
Chairs: Meryem Marzouki (CNRS and Sorbonne Université, Paris, France) and Nanette S. Levinson (American University, Washington DC, USA)
Digital technical, social and market innovations are developing, leading to the availability of all sorts of Internet platforms (from social networks to the so-called sharing economy) and the collection and use of huge volumes of data by both public and private actors. This Panel explores the political, legal, economic, social, cultural, societal and ethical challenges of these new developments and their governance.

Panel 5 – Digital Media and Politics
Chair: Isabelle Borucki (University of Trier/University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)
Every political actor (governments, parties or interest groups) has to deal with the fundamentally changed media and communication outlets the Digital provides. Last European national elections showed populist shift, and social media shift since new and emerging political movements and parties (e.g. the French En Marche or German AfD) directly grew into social media. The Panel assesses the external campaigning strategies and possibilities the Digital provides for enabling proactive external communications with potential voters, supporters and members.

Panel 6 – State of Digital Democratic Theory
Chair: Thorsten Thiel (German Humboldt Internet Institute/WZB Berlin, Germany)
Digitalisation is often said creating fundamental challenges to democracy, ranging from societal polarization to algorithmic decision-making, from undermining sovereign decision capabilities to transforming institutions of democratic will formation. This Panel discusses how normative democratic theories can react to digital transformations and compares different theoretical viewpoints and their value in informing our judgments on our changing political order.

Panel 7 - Political Participation and Deliberation Online – Contributions from Social Computing
Chairs: Katharina Gerl (Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany) and Vasiliki Triga (Cyprus University of Technology, Lemesos, Cyprus)
The sphere of political participation and deliberation is constantly changing through new online applications. Social computing technologies on the one hand provide new infrastructures and opportunities for political communication and participation – not only for individuals, but also for collective actors like social movements or governments. On the other hand, we need new tools and methods for researching the data provided by such tools. The Panel invites theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions from social sciences but also interdisciplinary approaches addressing questions such as: How do new online tools change and shape political deliberation and participation? How can such tools meet democratic demands like accessibility, equality, and reasoning? Which implications do Big Data and social computing have for democratic practices?

Sections Chairs

Jasmin Fitzpatrick is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department for Political Science of the JGU Mainz. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the ECPR Standing Group on Internet & Politics. Her research deals with the digital communication of political parties and other political organizations. More at:

Meryem Marzouki is a senior academic researcher in Political Sciences with the CNRS, based at Sorbonne Université in Paris, France. She is a Steering Committee member of the ECPR Standing Group on Internet & Politics. Her main research interests focus on global internet governance actors, issues, and institutionalization processes. More at:

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