In general, I locate my research interests in the field of Political Sociology. My research interests focus on individuals’ attitudes and behavior, political organizations and the links between the micro and the meso level. This includes e.g. the political communication by organizations, linkage (failure) and organizations’ tactics to intensify communication with and participation of members and affiliates. I am also interested in how individuals respond to these tactics. This includes e.g. bottom-up communication, modes of participation, and individual’s identification with political organizations.
I prefer to connect these phenomena to digitalization. I am convinced that digitalization opens new, additional ways for communication and participation; however, traditional forms have not been fully replaced and, therefore, have to be taken into consideration.
Social media have undoubtedly been a game changer in communication. Especially, political actors have gained power, because they can communicate with the public without the filtering influence of media agencies.
This also has a potential effect on the competition between small and large political actors such as parties and CSOs.
My research in this field focusses on measuring the agenda setting-capabilities of political actors and organizations through social media. I developed an index (ASI) to estimate and compare the potential of actors' agenda setting-ambitions.
Currently, I am working on a comparison of conservative political parties together with Isabelle Borucki. We look at the Conservative's and CDU's employment of websites and Facebook. We coded the parties' websites and Facebook posting between 2013 and 2018. Ourwork is submitted and we are waiting for the reviews.
My research concerns political parties as well as civil society organizations. Both structure society and promote participation. While many scholars dedicated their work to the research of political parties, CSOs have barely been systematically explored so far. My dissertation (published in May 2018) contributes to the analysis of civil society organizations.
Political parties have their roots in civil society. However, they have moved closer to the state. This phenomenon is connected to the research on party change/decline and linkage failure. Citizens are frustrated with political parties and have been labeled “disenchanted”, “apathetic” or “critical” in the scholarly debate. It was suggested that they turn away from politics. However, this does not seem to reflect the whole truth.
We know that society changes. Political parties were the answer to the demands of an empowered civil society in the industrial age. Today, we live in the information age. Political parties have to adapt to the changing circumstances and find answers to this new type of society. A look at CSOs shows that many citizens want to get involved. Yet, their mode of engagement has changed. They participate more spontaneously and do not want to commit themselves for a permanent activity.
Therefore, my research focusses on the comparison of political parties and CSOs and the lessons they might learn from each other.
One of my current projects involves a the forms of capital suggested by Pierre Bourdieu. I argue that these forms are relevant for organizations as well and provide examples.
With a focus on parties, I suggest a Five-Pillar-Model of Parties Migration into the Digital. The paper was submitted and I am waiting for the reviews. I also presented this paper at the ECPR General Conference in Wroclaw in September 2019.
I am also working on a paper with Gefion Thuermer focussing on the Digitalization of the Greens in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany.
In addition, I work on a comparison of CSOs in different national contexts and their efforts to set the media and political agenda.
I have been accompanied by election research since my studies in Würzburg. I was involved in the Würzburg-Barometer, a mixed-mode survey that targeted the population of Würzburg in terms of their voting behavior and their attitudes towards different topics such as social and institutional trust and religious belief. Later, this study branched out into the Bayernbarometer with a focus on Bavarias population. I was part of a team of four students and one academic supervisor that coordinated the survey. Ever since, I have had a strong interest in survey methodology.
One of my research ongoing projects is to delevelop items to measure different types of citizens' party involvement.