Research

In general, I locate my research interests in the field of Political Sociology with a comparative perspective. 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 organization of political actors, 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.

By systematic comparisons of different cases within the OECD-world, I hope to contribute to these fields of research.

 

Political Communication and Social Media

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. In a recent paper (in preparation for submission; presented at the ECPR Virtual Conference 2020), I apply this index to anti-corruption organizations.

 

In addition, I am preparing contributions on e-campaigning and agenda-setting for a handbook forthcoming in 2022 (submitted manuscripts).

 

 

Parties and Civil Society Organizations

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 committ themselves for a permanent activity.

 

With a focus on parties, I suggest a Five-Pillar-Model of Parties Migration into the Digital. Following this model, I work on different bricks and pillars and find out more about parties' efforts to become more digital.

For example, I am working on a paper with Gefion Thuermer focussing on the Digitalization of the Greens in Austria and Germany. We recently submitted this paper and started a next project where we connect Robert A. Dahl's criterion on enligthend understanding to digital participation platforms.

 

Together with Kate Dommett, Fabienne Greffet, and Isabelle Borucki, I am working on a systematic overview of parties' link to technological advancement. 

 

Along with Isabelle Borucki and Manès Weisskircher, I work on a project dealing with digitalization tendencies of political parties during the COVID19-pandemic. This project is part of a larger project where we cooperate with Oscar Barberà and Davide Vittori.

 

Paula Jöst and I are looking at parties' positions on online voting as a response to an increase in absentee voting. We evaluate open source documents by parties and conduct expert interviews to gain insight in the intra-party debates concerning this aspect of dititalization.

 

I am a founding member of the Digital Parties Research Network, where colleagues from all over Europe collaborate. Please visit the Network's website for more information.

 

 

Participation, Attitues, Behavior, and Public Opinion

As a necessary connection of my previous works, I am interested in how digitalization changes party identity and affiliation. I am working on a grant proposal to shed light on this field of research. This project will employ a mix of different methods to understand concepts of the political self of citizens in the digital age. 

 

I am currently working on a project examing the impact of dark social media like WhatsApp on political behavior. This is a survey based project with an own survey (fieldwork conducted in March 2021). Jessica Haak supports me with this project. I presented a paper with first results during the ECPR Virtual Joint Sessions 2021.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© Jasmin Fitzpatrick