Thrilled to be guest-editing with Andreas Jungherr a Special Issue of Political Communication on Computational Political Communication: Theory, Applications and Interdisciplinary Challenges
Call for Papers
Digital communication has opened up completely new avenues for social and political interactions that have radical effects on political information environments and the democratic attitudes and behaviors they shape. It has also helped advance the analytical toolkit available to communication scholars, with new data and methodological approaches, often labeled Computational Communication Science (CCS). The goal of this Special Issue (SI) is to foreground the theoretical, empirical, and institutional opportunities and challenges of CCS that are relevant to the political communication community. We focus on research that develops, synthesizes and applies data collection and analysis techniques relying primarily on computational methods and tools, with the objective to answer substantive theory-driven questions in the field of political communication. Despite its vast potential, as of yet CCS has only had marginal impact on core tenets in the field of political communication: CCS research is still pursued by a small minority of political communication researchers, it is heavily undertheorized, its capacities to reveal novel aspects of political communication processes are often misunderstood, it remains largely descriptive or can sometimes showcase methodological rigor at the expense of well-defined theoretical mechanisms, and its highly interdisciplinary nature makes it institutionally cumbersome. With this SI, we plan to map the potential of CCS for the political communication community and demonstrate its broad appeal beyond that of highly technically skilled researchers, focusing on approaches and perspectives that not only demonstrate its methodological innovation but, most importantly, illustrate its theoretical, practical, and institutional relevance, as well as challenges in realizing its potential.
What kind of contributions do we seek?
This is an open call for contributions. The SI is driven by the urgency of identifying potentials, challenges, and limitations of CCS openly within political communication. The SI is explicitly not just about the application of computational methods. Instead, we seek contributions that will tackle head-on the theoretical, practical, interdisciplinary, and institutional consequences of CCS, and demonstrate its broader relevance for political communication research. The SI will accept three types of contributions that speak to the issues raised above:
- Theory: Many of the objections raised about the potentials and problems of so-called “big data” research in other social science fields – especially regarding the theoretical richness (or vacuum) of such approaches – have been transferred intact to CCS. Answers are still pending regarding the following important questions: What is the role of theory in CCS? What existing theoretical problems in political communication does CCS help us solve and what theories can it help us advance? What are the trade-offs and the main ethical questions to be addressed?
- Applications: While a number of inspiring studies have shed light on how computational approaches can be used to understand the effects of, for example, selective and incidental exposure, these endeavors have often been driven by pressing political phenomena or developments in the field of political communication, and have largely focused on the United States (polarization and “fake news” are perhaps the most prominent examples). We seek theory-driven studies that address major questions in political communication and demonstrate how CCS can help us better understand political communication processes related, but not limited, to: (multi)platform dynamics and biases, campaign effects, news consumption, mobilization, disinformation, gender dynamics in political communication, the emergence and proliferation of counter-cultures and their impact on public discourse.
- Institutional and interdisciplinary challenges: By definition CCS brings a strong interdisciplinary component that involves the importation of data collection strategies, methodological applications from other fields, and predominantly computer science. This makes it challenging to adopt for individual researchers, but also for institutions even though its potential and applicability are vast. Institutional support is thus crucial. Currently, there are very few successful interdisciplinary groups focusing on CCS. Part of the reason is that, for all the rhetoric about the benefits of interdisciplinarity, few institutions are able and willing to support scholars in organizing and positioning a CCS research group. At the same time, writing grants with high risk (but high returns) due to their computational components and newly imported concepts and methods crash often on disciplinary boundaries. We seek contributions by CCS group leaders discussing experiences and providing advice and good practices for the new generation of political communication scholars interested in establishing such groups. We will host these contributions as “Forum”-style papers as an integral part of the SI.
We are interested in featuring contributions that give voice to contributors and issues underfeatured in the current debate about the application of CCS in political communication. We strongly encourage contributions by female authors and would like to see manuscripts focusing on gender, inequalities, and Asia or the Global South.
We hope the call inspires authors to freshly reflect on challenges and potentials of CCS in political communication research. It is explicitly not our goal to provide authors with just another space to publish yet one more computational-methods-driven paper. This is reflected in our publication schedule that should give authors the time and opportunity to react to the issues raised in our call. Once ready, please submit your work through our online submission portal. We encourage everyone to review our Instructions for Authors prior to submitting.
- Paper Submissions: 1 October 2019
- First decision: 1. December 2019
- Deadline Revisions: 1 February 2020
- Final Decision: 1. March 2020
For more information visit the journal’s webpage.
New paper on young people and political participation (with Shelley Boulianne), just published in Social Science Computer Review. The article is available here:
New paper on social media and democracy (with Joshua Tucker, Molly Roberts and Pablo Barberá), just published in the Journal of Democracy. The article is available here:
New paper on collective action dynamics in civil society organisation (with Silia Vitoratou and Javier Sajuria), just published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. The article is Open Access and can be found here.
Our Special Issue (with Andreas Jungherr) in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics is out! You can see the contributions here. You can also read our full paper/introduction to the issue here.
New working paper with Zoltan Fazekas, Sebastian Popa, Hermann Schmitt, Pablo Barberá and Olivier Parnet: Issue Politicization on Social Media: Addressing Emerging Issues in Election Campaigns.
Material from the Special Issue of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics that I am co-Editing with Andreas Jungherr is out! Five excellent contributions addressing the topic The Empiricist’s Challenge: Asking Meaningful Questions in Political Science in the Age of Big Data.
Our new research on political trolling and the consequences it has for the broader democratic debate featues today in Washington Post’s political blog The Monkey Cage.
My recent collaborative work with Pablo Barberá, Zoltan Fazekas and Sebastian Popa has been awarded APSA’s 2016 Best Information Technology and Politics Conference Paper Award! The paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Communication.
Very pleased and honoured that, as of February 8 2016, I will be teaching a new Masters course on Theories, Concepts and Practices in Political Communication & New Media as invited lecturer at the Hertie School of Governance.
### CFP: Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Journal of Information Technology & Politics: The Empiricist’s Challenge: Asking Meaningful Questions in Political Science in the Age of Big Data
Guest Editors: Andreas Jungherr & Yannis Theocharis
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: MARCH 1, 2016
Objective for the JITP Special Issue:
The continuously growing use of digital services has provided social scientists with an expanding reservoir of data, potentially holding valuable insights into social systems and political behavior. The potentials of the use of digital trace data in social science research has famously given rise to the terms “big data” and “computational social science”. Using such data, social scientists have argued, will enable us to better understand social, political and economic life through the generation of large datasets that are composed not of questions asked of citizens concerning their attitudes and behaviors, but of the digital traces of their actual behaviour as they navigate the online world.
After a first phase, in which researchers demonstrated the potentials of the use of digital trace data in the social sciences through case studies, the field now has to enter a second, and some would argue, more demanding phase. To move into the core of social science, researchers using digital trace data have to connect with established research traditions and theoretical discourses. This involves: developing standards for data collection, preparation, analysis and reporting; establishing more systematic links between the existing body of research in the social sciences; and moving away from proofs-of-concepts, and towards the systematic development and testing of hypotheses. This goes hand in hand with providing better justifications as to why and how the use of specific digital trace data collections improves upon previous approaches in the social sciences as well as providing better evidence for digital trace data’s problem-solving capacity.
We would like to invite you to contribute to this debate in the pages of a special issue of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics (JITP).
What papers are we looking for?
We invite papers addressing the use of digital trace data in the social sciences with a spe-cial focus on political phenomena, behavior and processes. Topics of discussion could for example include:
- Which questions prevalent in political science should we expect to be addressed freshly through the use of digital trace data and how can this be illustrated?
- Which current theoretical debates offer researchers using digital trace data a valu-able context to frame their research questions and develop and test hypotheses?
- How have other social actors (such as political professionals, NGOs, media or-ganizations, or corporations) used digital trace data to measure and expand their political activities?
- What are the main challenges to be resolved before the use of digital trace data can enter the mainstream of political science research?
We invite papers which pursue these and related questions. Papers might address these and related questions either conceptually or empirically.
Papers should follow the submission guidelines of JITP available online. Papers not following these guidelines will be desk rejected. Papers should be submitted through JITPs submission platform no later than March 1, 2016. While submitting please select your manuscript for consideration in the appropriate special issue on the platform.
A pdf version of the call can be downloaded here
I have recently joined SMaPP-Global, an exciting and innovative initiative led by New York University’s Social Media and Participation Lab. SMaPP-Global has three goals: (1) to better understand how social media impacts political participation; (2) to better understand how elites utilize social media to pursue political goals; and (3) to develop open-source tools that facilitate the use of social media data for the study of politics.
One more thing about SMaPP-Global. It’s totally awesome.
Two co-authored papers will be presented this week at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco, CA.
Theocharis, Y., Barberá, P., Fazekas, Z. & Popa, S.A. (2015) “A Bad Workman Blames His Tweets: The Consequences of Citizens’ Uncivil Twitter Use When Interacting with Party Candidates” (DIVISION 40: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & POLITICS, Panel: Elites Online: How Candidates, Representatives and Journalists Use the Internet.
Theocharis, Y. & van Deth, J. W. (2015) “The Curious Case of Digitally Networked Participation: Conceptualizing and Measuring Digitally Enabled Political Participation” (DIVISION 36: ELECTIONS AND VOTING BEHAVIOR, Panel: Online and Offline Political Participation and their Consequences for Democracy)
Theocharis, Y., Barberá, P., Fazekas, Z. & Popa, S.A. (2015) “A Bad Workman Blames His Tweets: The Consequences of Citizens’ Uncivil Twitter Use When Interacting with Party Candidates”
Fazekas, Z., Popa, S.A., Barberá, P., Theocharis, Y. & Schmitt, H. (2015) “When to Talk About Europe? Selective Europeanization of the 2014 EP Elections”
Very pleased to announce The Empiricist’s Challenge: Asking Meaningful Questions in Political science in the Age of Big Data, a conference co-organised by Andreas Jungherr and myself at the MZES. More information on the themes and the keynote speakers line-up can be found by clicking the conference link below, as well as on Twitter. We look forward to your submissions!
It is an honour and a great privilege to have been included in Routledge’s recent volume on Citizenship and Democracy in an Era of Crisis, edited by, and with contributions from, an incredible line-up of top international scholars in hornour of Prof. Jan W. van Deth.
My Chapter “Is Digitally Networked Participation a Form of Political Participation” can be found in this edited volume.
My recent paper with Jan W. van Deth on trust and social capital in Greece has received some media coverage today in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an article entitled “Griechenland ist arm – vor allem an Vertrauen”. Available also at: http://fazarchiv.faz.net/?q=ausbildung&dosearch=new#hitlist (behind paywall).
Our recent paper with Javier Sajuria, Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson, David Hudson and Niheer Dasandi has been featured in the LSE Blog.
The following article has been published in Representation and is now available via Online first:
Theocharis, Yannis & van Deth, Jan W. (2015) A Modern Tragedy? Institutional Causes and Democratic Consequences of the Greek Crisis. Representation.
The following article has been published in American Politics Research and is now available via Online first.
Sajuria, Javier, van Heerde-Hudson, Jennifer, Hudson, David, Dasandi, Niheer & Theocharis, Yannis. (forthcoming 2015) Tweeting Alone? An Analysis of Bridging and Bonding Social Capital in Online Networks. American Politics Research.
Some recent thoughts on whether Digitally Networked Participation can be considered a form of political participation can be found on the paper I presented today at the “Conceptualizing Political Participation” Conference in Mannheim. This is rough first draft and thus any feedback is more than welcome. The paper can be found here.
The following two articles have been published in Information, Communication & Society and New Media & Society respectively.
Theocharis, Yannis, Lowe, Will, van Deth, Jan & Garcia-Albacete, Gema (forthcoming) Using Twitter to mobilize protest action: Online mobilization patterns and action repertoires in the Occupy Wall Street, Indignados and Aganaktismenoi movements. Information, Communication & Society.
Theocharis, Yannis & Quintelier, Ellen (forthcoming) Stimulating Citizenship or Expanding Entertainment? The Effect of Facebook on Adolescent Participation. New Media & Society.
Also, the following article has been presented at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association:
Theocharis, Yannis & Lowe, Will. “Does Facebook Increase Political Participation? Evidence from a Field Experiment”. Paper prepared for delivery to the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 2014, Washington DC, USA
The following article is now forthcoming in Information, Communication & Society:
Theocharis, Y., Lowe, W., van Deth, J.W. & Garcia-Albacete, G.Using Twitter to mobilise protest action: online mobilisation patterns and action repertoires in the Occupy Wall Street, Indignados and Aganaktismenoi movements. Information, Communication & Society
Some new work on the effects of social media on social capital and political participation is coming out soon. Three recent research papers with be presented at the 4th Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association. The papers are in the following panels:
- Panel 2404: Information Technologies and the Study of Political Communication
Popa, S., Theocharis, Y. & Schnaudt, C. “Direct and Moderating Effects of Facebook Use on Associational Membership”
- Panel 2008: Social Media and Political Participation
Theocharis, Y. & Lowe, W. “Does Facebook Increase Political Participation? Evidence from a Survey Experiment”
Sajuria, J., vanHeerde-Hudson, J., Hudson, D., Dasandi, N. & Theocharis, Y. “Are We Bowling at All? An Analysis of Social Capital in Online Networks”
From May 2014 I will be taking up a new position as a Senior Research Fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research to work on two large-scale projects on young citizens and civic engagement and the effects of social networking sites on political behaviour.
From November 2013 till February 2014 I will be on a research stay at the Centre for Citizenship and Democracy of KU Leuven. During my stay I will be working with Ellen Quintelier and Marc Hooghe on a project dealing with the impact of social media on social capital and political participation of high-school children in Belgium.