A bibliography on Spanish online politics and Politics 2.0

For a paper I am preparing about Politics 2.0 in Spain — and that has already produced a definition of Politics 2.0 — I had to gather quite a good bunch of literature. There is quite some information about online politics, some about politics 2.0, but very few about Politics 2.0, especially academic literature about Politics 2.0 in Spain, which is scarce. Thus, writing that paper has required some interesting academic juggling.

Below I’ve listed the bibliography that so far I’m using to structure and back my paper. Beyond the bibliography that follows, three events helped much in collecting insights, ideas and find many interesting references. My gratitude to the speakers at these events:

Tag cloud of the bibliography

A bibliography on Spanish online politics and Politics 2.0 RSS

Anduiza, E., Gallego, A. & Jorba, L. (2009). The Political Knowledge Gap in the New Media Environment: Evidence from Spain. Prepared for the seminar Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? Barcelona, May 28th-30th 2009. Barcelona: IGOP.
Arnstein, S. R. (1969). “A Ladder of Citizen Participation”. In American Institute of Planners,
Journal of the American Institute of Planners, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224. Boston: American Institute of Planners.
Batlle, A., Borge, R., Cardenal, A. S. & Padró-Solanet, A. (2007). Reconsidering the analysis of the uses of ICTs by political parties: an application to the Catalan case. Communication presented at the 4th ECPR General Conference. Pisa: ECPR.
Bimber, B. & Davis, R. (2003). Campaigning Online. The Internet in U.S. Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Borge, R. (2005). “La participación electrónica: estado de la cuestión y aproximación a su clasificación”. In IDP. Revista de Internet, Derecho y Ciencia Política, (1). Barcelona: UOC.
Borge, R., Colombo, C. & Welp, Y. (2009). “Online and offline participation at the local level. A quantitative analysis of the Catalan municipalities”. In Information, Communication & Society, 12 (6), 1-30 . London: Routledge.
Cantijoch, M. (2009). Reinforcement and mobilization: the influence of the Internet on different types of political participation. Prepared for the seminar Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? Barcelona, May 28th-30th 2009. Barcelona: IGOP.
Castells, M. (2007). “Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society”. In International Journal of Communication, 1, 238-266. Los Angeles: USC Annenberg Press.
Chadwick, A. & Howard, P. N. (2008). Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics. New York: Routledge.
Chadwick, A. (2009). “Web 2.0: New Challenges for the Study of E-Democracy in an Era of Informational Exuberance”. In I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 5 (1), 9 – 41. Columbus: Ohio State University.
Cornfield, M. (2005). The Internet and Campaign 2004: A Look Back at the Campaigners. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Criado, J. I. & Martínez Fuentes, G. (2009). “¿Hacia la conquista política de la blogosfera? Blogging electoral en la campaña de los comicios municipales del 2007”. In IDP. Revista de Internet, Derecho y Ciencia Política, (8). Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Cristancho, C. & Salcedo, J. (2009). Assessing Internet Mobilization – Integrating Web Analysis and Survey Data. Prepared for the seminar Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? Barcelona, May 28th-30th 2009. Barcelona: IGOP.
Davies, T. & Peña Gangadharan, S. (Eds.) (2009). Online Deliberation. Design, Research, and Practice. Standford: CSLI Publications.
Dutta, S. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2009). Global Information Technology Report 2008-2009: Mobility in a Networked World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutton, W. H. (2007). Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate. Inaugural Lecture, Examination Schools, University of Oxford, 15 October 2007. Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute.
Elmer, G., Langlois, G., Devereaux, Z., Ryan, P. M., McKelvey, F., Redden, J. & Curlew, A. B. (2009). ““Blogs I Read”: Partisanship and Party Loyalty in the Canadian Political Blogosphere”. In Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 6 (2), 156 – 165. London: Routledge.
Fleishman-Hillard (2009). European Parliament Digital Trends. Brussels: Fleishman-Hillard.
Franco Álvarez, G. & García Martul, D. (2008). “Los efectos de las redes ciudadanas en la campaña electoral del 9-M”. In Ámbitos, (17), 25-36. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla.
Gibson, R. K. (2009). “New Media and the Revitalisation of Politics”. In Representation, 45 (3), 289 – 299. London: Routledge.
Gonzalez-Bailon, S. (2008). The inner digital divide: How the web contributes (or not) to political equality. Working Paper Number 2008-02. Oxford: University of Oxford.
Hara, N. (2008). “Internet use for political mobilization: Voices of the participants”. In First Monday, 7 July 2008, 13 (7). [online]: First Monday.
Hillygus, S. & Shields, T. (2007). The Persuadable Voter: Campaign Strategy, Wedge Issues, And The Fragmentation Of American Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Howard, P. N. (2005). “Deep Democracy, Thin Citizenship: The Impact of Digital Media in Political Campaing Strategy”. In The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597 (1), 153-170. London: SAGE Publications.
Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet (2004). Political Influentials Online in the 2004 Presidential Campaign. Washington, DC: The George Washington University.
Jacobson, D. (1999). “Impression Formation in Cyberspace”. In Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 5 (1). Washington, DC: International Communication Association.
Jensen, M. J. (2009). Political Participation, Alienation, and the Internet in the United States and Spain. Prepared for the seminar Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? Barcelona, May 28th-30th 2009. Barcelona: IGOP.
Katz, J. E., Rice, R. E. & Aspden, P. (2001). “The Internet, 1995-2000: Access, Civic Involvement, and Social Interaction”. In American Behaviorial Scientist, 45 (3), 405-419. London: SAGE Publications.
Kelly, J., Fisher, D. & Smith, M. (2005). Debate, Division, and Diversity: Political Discourse Networks in USENET Newsgroups. Paper prepared for the. Palo Alto: Stanford University.
Kelly, J. (2008). Pride of Place: Mainstream Media and the Networked Public Sphere. Media Re:public Side Papers. Cambridge: Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Kirkman, G., Cornelius, P. K., Sachs, J. D. & Schwab, K. (Eds.) (2002). Global Information Technology Report 2001-2002: Readiness for the Networked World. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lenhart, A. (2009). Adults and social network websites. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Morozov, E. (2009). “How dictators watch us on the web”. In Prospect, December 2009, (165). London: Prospect Publishing Limited.
Norris, P. & Curtice, J. (2006). “If You Build a Political Web Site, Will They Come? The Internet and Political Activism in Britain”. In International Journal of Electronic Government Research, 2 (2), 1-21. Hershey: IGI Global.
Noveck, B. S. (2005). “A democracy of groups”. In First Monday, 10 (11). [online]: First Monday.
Noveck, B. S. (2008). “Wiki-Government”. In Democracy, Winter 2008, (7), 31-43. Washington, DC: Democracy, a Journal of Ideas, Inc..
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Sebastopol: O.
Oates, S., Owen, D. & Gibson, R. K. (Eds.) (2006). The Internet and Politics. Citizens, Voters and Activists. New York: Routledge.
Observatorio Nacional de las Telecomunicaciones y la Sociedad de la Información (2009). Evolución de los usos de Internet en España 2009. Madrid: ONTSI.
Padró-Solanet, A. (2009). The Strategic Adaptation of Party Organizations to the New Information and Communication Technologies: A Study of Catalan and Spanish Parties. Paper prepared for presentation at the Workshop 20: “Parliaments, Parties and Politicians in Cyberspace” ECPR Joint Sessions Lisbon, April 14-19 2009. Lisbon: ECPR.
Peña-López, I. (2008). Ciudadanos Digitales vs. Insituciones Analógicas. Conference imparted in Candelaria, May 9th, 2008 at the iCities Conference about Blogs, e-Government and Digital Participation. Candelaria: ICTlogy.
Peña-López, I. (2009a). Goverati: New competencies for politics, government and participation. Seminar at the Course: Digital Competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society. CUIMPB, 16th July 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Pew Research Center for The People & The Press (2008). Social Networking and Online Videos Take Off. Internet’s Broader Role in Campaign 2008. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Peytibí, F. X., Rodríguez, J. A. & Gutiérrez-Rubí, A. (2008). “La experiencia de las elecciones generales del 2008”. In IDP. Revista de Internet, Derecho y Ciencia Política, (7). Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Robles, J. M. (2008). Ciudadanía Digital. Un acercamiento a las causas de la ideología de los internautas españoles. Research seminar held on July, 3rd, 2008 in Barcelona, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. [mimeo]
Smith, A. (2008). Post-Election Voter Engagement. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Smith, A. & Rainie, L. (2008). The internet and the 2008 election. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Tichenor, P. J., Donohue, G. A. & Olien, C. N. (1970). “Mass media flow and differential growth in knowledge”. In Public Opinion Quarterly, 34 (2), 159 – 170. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Traficantes de Sueños (Ed.) (2004). ¡Pásalo! Relatos y análisis sobre el 11-M y los días que le siguieron. Madrid: Traficantes de Sueños.


A definition of Politics 2.0

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly published a seminal article — What Is Web 2.0 — in which he provided a definition for the term Web 2.0, which had gained a huge momentum during the previous year since the first edition of the Web 2.0 Conference in October 2004.

The concept gathered both technological and philosophical (in the sense of behaviours and attitudes) issues. At the technological level, it dealt about the importance of the web as a delivery (of content and services) platform by excellence; data as the core component of all kind of communications and interchanges; software as a service and not a product, then becoming more important access to software than its “physical” purchase; predominance to RSS and associated procedures for the exchange of content; or (while keeping the importance of the web as a platform) the need to create technologies that were portable across devices. At the philosophical level, and both cause and consequence of the technological advances, the spread (and enabling) of a contribution and participation culture by the society at large (and not only by institutions or organized associations); the acknowledgement that anyone could actually contribute with their knowledge and opinion (the “wisdom of crowds”); the raise of a culture of mixing, assembling and aggregating content; and the will to have rich user experiences when interacting online (vs. A passive, unidirectional, monotonous approach which had been common ground in the previous years).

Besides the “formal” definition of the Web 2.0, it has more often been described through some tools and the new and characteristic ways of using them: the blog and the nanoblog, the wiki, social bookmarking, photo and video sharing websites, tagging and “folksonomies”, syndication and aggregation, etc.

After this philosophical approach – boosted by the technological advancements – many have adapted some of the core definitions to many aspects of life. Thus, for instance, Education 2.0 often referred to as a shift from unidirectional lecturing towards a more participatory approach of learning, based in collaboratively creating learning materials, an intensive usage of web 2.0 tools, or openness and sharing of the process of learning, just to name a few. And along with Education, we can find debates around Research 2.0, Culture 2.0, Government 2.0, Journalism 2.0, Enterprise 2.0… and Politics 2.0.

But, quite often, we do not find specific definitions for such concepts, taking for granted that the reader will be able to do the translation from the Web 2.0 to the Whatever 2.0. I here provide my own definition of Politics 2.0, which I needed for a paper I am preparing about Politics 2.0 in Spain:

  • Ideas: not closed and packaged propaganda. Ideas that can be spread, shared and transformed by members of the party and partisans, sympathizers and supporter, and the society at large;
  • Open data: ideas are backed by incredible amounts of data and information made openly available to the general public, and most time provided with open licenses that allow their reuse and remix;
  • Participation: of all and every kind of people and institutions, blurring the edges of the “structures” and permeating the walls of institutions, making communication more horizontal and plural;
  • Loss of control of the emission of the message, that now can be transferred outside of mainstream media and diffused on a peer-to-peer and many-to-many basis by means of web 2.0 tools;
  • Loss of control of the creation itself of the message: being data and participation available, web 2.0 tools at anyone’s reach, and with minimum digital competences, the message can even be created and spread bottom up;
  • Acknowledgement, hence, of the citizen as some who can be trusted (and used) as a one-man think-tank and a one-man communication-media;
  • Reversely, possibility to reach each and every opinion, target personal individuals with customized messages, by means of rich data and web 2.0 tools, thus accessing a long tail of voters that are far from the median voter;
  • Construction of an ideology, building of a discourse, setting up goals, campaigning and government become a continuum that feedbacks in real time.

I admit that this is neither a usual or a formal description, nor a comprehensive set of characteristics. I believe, though, that it could serve in providing a fair framework to contextualize and explain what’s happening at the intersection of Politics and the Web 2.0.


PS: dedico aquesta entrada al José Antonio Donaire, l’Ernest Benach, el Carlos Guadián, i el Ricard Espelt, en qui no he deixat de pensar mentre l’escrivia.


Citizen politics (VII): Round Table

Notes from the workshop Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? held in Barcelona, Spain, on May 28-30th, 2009. More notes on this event: citizen_politics_2009.

Rachel Gibson

All politics is both personal and local… and national… and… Have to manage the way to connect the personal to the local.

Emergent e-campaign strategy: depends on infrastructure and the tools; and of the logic of networked communities, whether they are autonomous or not. A difference between building “real” communities, or populist platforms addressed to many in general (to the “herd”).

A major challenge: how to measure actions, people, quality, etc. A need to modelize “digital natives” and the way they interact between each other and through technology.

Main research approaches in Politics 2.0, all of them interrelated:

Foci, key factors /
Level of Analysis
Internal External
Elite (supply) Campaign change, tools, national/local power, adoption diffusion Inter-party comptetition, campaign site analysis
Mass (mass) Party membership, supporters, volunteers Electoral mobilization

Víctor Sampedro

We should not embrace the discourse and language of marketing or consultants, of populism, of counter-hegemonic collectives.

We have to assess the validity of our data, and collaborate both with the industry and the subjects of our studies.

We have to clarify what we understand by counter-power measures of ICTs and also, the concept of empowerment, and the concept of mobilization.

Is it a grassroots approach really a better system? Shouldn’t leaders lead? Is there still a role for leaders to “educate” the voter or to find “better” solutions and show them to the citizen?

Brian Krueger

Everything that’s great can be used against you: we should be thinking about Internet surveillance and monitoring. We know little about it and should be paying more attention to it. And this includes the sheer sensation of being monitored, as it has behavioural effects (e.g. self-censorship). Evidence shows that people feel monitored if they’d type “impeach Bush” or “assassinate Bush”. Open political criticism is tied to the feeling of being watched. And this sensation of being watched most probably changes your own behaviour, even if you’re not actually watched. And it’s likely to change how and how much you are participating.

Bruce Bimber

Motivation, attitudes, trust… the umbrella were to begin exploring participation. And then focus also on the changes that the new media are infringing to the landscape.

How would the landscape look like when “all” the people would have been socialized with these new media?

How different Web 2.0 tools differentiate one another? What different specific applications do they have?

We’re right to talk about choice, but we do still have not good models how to measure how choice happens and why.

More effort should be made in analysing how citizens can affect agenda-setting, on a decentralized and bottom-up communication scheme. And also how horizontal communication happens, how peer-to-peer can pass the message on.

Should focus more not on how people mobilize, but what the specific motivations and contexts are. What keeps people awake at night.

Andrew Chadwick

We need more appreciation of social network environments (i.e. tools), and balance technological determinism with social determinism, keeping in mind how technology did change some human behaviours.

How do we contextualize a campaign or social movement, specially when social movements increasingly look like parties and parties increasingly look like social movements, and borrow each one’s instruments and techniques.

Look at how citizens cognitively negotiate information overload in an age of information saturation (not scarcity).

Can we do politics in a space owned by the market and private interests? Can the citizens build their own forums, create their own network effects and avoid commoditized online spaces?

We do need to start looking in more sophisticated ways how people are exposed to online content, including accidental exposure.

There are many cross-section analyses, but few panel-data analysis, which are usually acknowledged to be more robust (though more difficult and expensive). And we should use more the “free range” data that people automatically create with their actions (e.g. logs) instead of “battery raised” surveys. And combine methods.

We should be aware of how mobile technologies might be changing the economy of attention and politics.


Bruce Bimber: mobility is more about time, more about “always on” rather than physical space or ubiquity (Chadwick fully agrees).

Rachel Gibson & Bruce Bimber: there are places where the local factor really matters and shapes how the institutions work or are built and managed.


Citizen Politics workshop (2009)

Citizen politics (VI): Online Public Sphere

Notes from the workshop Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? held in Barcelona, Spain, on May 28-30th, 2009. More notes on this event: citizen_politics_2009.

Granularity in citizen’s online engagement
Andrew Chadwick

Dissatisfaction with the debate around e-Democracy and the concept of the public sphere. A new approach is needed and it would be worth looking at it from Yochai Benkler’s point of view, who states that granularity (of collaboration) determines the success of a (collaborative) project.

The online scenario has change with the appearance of the Web 2.0. Thus, online politics should be reshaped accordingly, and make possible more granular ways to participate.

Usability is one of the things that have radically changed in recent years. Web 2.0 platforms are simple and more easy to use. It is also easier to aggregate simple and small contributions together.

Low threshold political behaviour is central in most Web 2.0 political websites.

Web 2.0 do not solve the trust issue, but they have no doubt addressed this subject and they are far better than other solutions (newsgroups, IRC, etc.).

Community engagement requires third places not explicitly political/politicized (squares, bars, etc.) and this is going online now too. Facebook-like platforms are places where politics can piggy-back other conversations and meetings.

More granularity does not necessarily means less quality (i.e. because there is “less effort” and “less commitment” in just e.g. sending a single petition to the Prime Minister). Numbers matter. And, indeed, more granularity implies less risk.

Granular participation needs reconceptualization of decentralized politics. How to measure this? What’s the role of the intermediaries? Do we need them? Will political content be created?

How to support new patterns of interaction between politicians or policy-makers and the citizens? Will this interaction take place in third places? Will people welcome politicians in these third places? Will politicians be willing to enter these places?

Participation in online creation communities
Mayo Fuster

Online Creation Communities (OCCs) are collective action performed by individuals that cooperate, communicate and interact, mainly via a platform of participation in the Internet, with the goal of knowledge-making and which the resulting information al pool remains freely accessible and of collective property.

Political relevance: they are spaces for civic engagement in the dissemination of alternative information and for participation in the public sphere; and citizen engagement in the provision of public civic information.

Two cases: Openesf.net and Wikimedia Foundation.

There is very strong inequality in participation: active participants (1%) that heavily contribute and are responsible for most of the content; contributors (9%), a low percentage of participants that make small or indirect contributions; and lurkers (90%), a large presence of individuals that do not participate. This pattern repeats everywhere and everywhen.

For Openesf.net the distribution is: 82% lurkers, 14.3% contributors and 3.7% active participants. Distribution of profiles varies depending on what is understood by participation.

97% of participants in Openesf.net presented themselves as individuals, not as members (or even representatives) of organizations.

Participation as an eco-system:

  • Participation is open, the system is open to participation
  • Participation has multiple forms and degrees which are integrated: a critical mass is essential to initiate the project; weak cooperation enriches the system; lurkers provide value as audience or through unintended participation that improves the sys tem
  • Participation is decentralized and asynchronous
  • Po is public
  • P is autonomous, each person decides which level of commitment they want to adopt and on what aspects they want to contribute
  • Participation is volunteering

Norms, technology and information: Pondering the infrastructural choices of “e-participation”
Anders Koed Madsen

Analysis of portals to gather political or public-service-like content: How do the different portals shape and materialize the abstract pormises of citizen participation? Which elements give promises of new modes of citizen-engagement?

1st dimension: Structured semantics vs. unstructured semantics. This is a basis for both transmission and deliberation, though there is a trade-off between noise-reduction and diversity of inputs. There are also differences in how interaction is facilitated. Reacting citizen vs. proactive; moderated vs. unmoderated; agenda setting vs. open agendas; etc.

2nd dimension: Rationalistic content vs. non-rationalistic content. Differences in forms of content. The semantic choice can constrain the dialogue.

3rd dimension: Loose moderation vs. strict moderation.

How the election of these dimensions can affect content?


Brian Krueger: does really a bigger size in the network implies a more useful network? Isn’t there a trade-off between size and usefulness? Is there a way to create networks that are useful to share knowledge?

Ismael Peña-López (re: Chadwick’s): One variable missing in the equation of how Web 2.0 have changed the landscape is the focus of most Web 2.0 platforms, or who benefits from them, shifting form the organization to the individual. Contributing to newsgroups benefited the community, uploading photos on Flickr benefits me; participating with a political party benefits… the party, but participating in TheyWorkForYou or FixMyStreet benefits… me! It is, again, a switch from push strategies (be engaged, then work for the party/candidate) to pull strategies (work for you, then be engaged). In some way, the Web 2.0 allows for including the concept of utility in the equation of political engagement.

Ismael Peña-López (re: Krueger’s comment on Chadwick’s): useful for who? the bigger the network, the more useful for aggregate purposes (more data, more content) though it can be overwhelming at the individual level. In fact, the ideal would be huge networks made out of many small personal networks. Indeed, to share knowledge there must be that shift from working for the others (push) to working for oneself (pull) and then reuse/aggregate this content so that it is connected with other content and people, building a network up.


Citizen Politics workshop (2009)

Citizen politics (V): Impacts on Knowledge and Participation

Notes from the workshop Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? held in Barcelona, Spain, on May 28-30th, 2009. More notes on this event: citizen_politics_2009.

The Political Knowledge Gap in the New Media Environment
Eva Anduiza, Aina Gallego and Laia Jorba

Knowledge gap hypothesis (Tichenor, Donohue and Olien, 1970, 159-160): As the infusion of mass media information into a social system increases, segment of pupulation with higher socioeconomic status tend to acquire this information at a faster rate than the lower status segments.

What is the impact of new media on the knowledge gap? There’s much more information of any kind; more choice and possibilities, etc. Two approaches:

  • Cognitive abilities are more relevant, so the knowledge gap is due to capability; same with motivation.
  • On the other hand, serendipity (when surfing the Internet at random) can play an important role in decreasing the knowledge gap

A survey on Internet uses and political knowledge showed that Internet users are more knowledgeable in political issues (leaving aside age, education and other variables that could influence political knowledge).

There is also a positive interaction between Education and Internet use, meaning that more educated people can learn more about politics in the Internet. But also a negeative interaction between Interest and Internet use, that is, less interested people learn more on the Internet about politics than interested ones. Why is it so?

Reinforcement and mobilization: the influence of the Internet on different types of political participation
Marta Cantijoch

What’s the impact of the Internet on political participation? We’re seeing a decrease of representational forms of participation and an increase of protest and other extra-representational activities. Reasons could be dissatisfaction, disaffection (as less involvement) and apathy, discontent (but eager to get involved), etc.

Three theoretical profiles:

  • Disaffected: low levels of involvement, dissatisfied with the political system, low feelings of engagement. Expected not to participate whatever
  • Critical: High political involvement and feelings of engagement, but low satisfaction wiht the sisyte. Expected to get involved in extrarepresentative activities
  • Institutionalised: High political involvement, and feelings of citizen duty, matched by the political system. Expected participation in representative models.

What happens with these three profiles when the Internet comes in? More information available, higher diversity of discourses, unplanned exposure to information. If the Internet fosters extra-representative forms of participation, Disaffected and Institutionalized citizens will be mobilised, but Critical ones will find their eagerness not to mobilize reinforced.

A survey+analyses were performed to measure turnout, representational and extra-representational participation according to Internet use, and voluntary search for information and proclivity to be exposed to serendipitous political information.

Findings are that the more the Internet use, the higher the probability to be mobilized at al levels. In other words, using the Internet increases the likelihood of participation in extra-representational modes, though it has minimal effects amongst disaffected (mobilizing in institutionalized and reinforcing amongst critical citizens).

On the other hand, being exposed to more political information also increases the probability to mobilised, regardless of it being voluntary (active search) or involuntary exposure to political information.

Political participation, alienation and the Internet in Spain and the United States
Mike Jensen

Political alienation can be explained, from the demand side, by several reasons. Putnam (1995, 2000) states that it might be because of a loosening of personal ties with the civil society. Also due to a generational shift in participatory repertoires away from hierarchical political engagement.

On the supply side, Stoker (2006) or Hay (2007) explain it by the increasing complexity of politics. Political marketing could well be another reason.

Does low specific and diffuse support negatively impact participation? Are there differences between offline and different online forms of participation? Is there evidence that the politically alienated offline are participation online? Do we find differences between Spain and the US?

After two surveys (Spain and US), we test trust in the central governemnt, in political parties and the local government, responsiveness of authorities, complexity of politics and elite interests domination. In both countries we can group (principal components analysis) the variables in two factors: diffuse support (concerning the former three) and specific support (latter three).

US: In general, either diffuse or specific support seems not to affect political participation. Only diffuse support has a weak association with offline political participation in the US. Reading online political news does have a political impact in participation at any level. And there’s a segment of the population that expend a lot of time surfing the Internet as a way of expressing aspects of their lives, participating in Web 2.0 related platforms.

Spain: A negative relation between being for a major party and online participation. Diffuse support is positively related with online participation, while specific support is positively related with offline support. Again, reading political news leads to higher probability to participate, whatever the means.

There is either no or a negative relationship between participation and support. We find evidence of younger cohorts particularity participation oin Web 2.0. Some evidence for cultural shaping of the Internet as there are difference sin how the major parties relate to the Internet.


Bruce Bimber: What happens with long-term participation and whether we believe it is good or bad? Is it really useful so treat the Web 2.0 differently from online participation? For older generations there might be a difference, but is that difference there amongst younger generations?

Ismael Peña-López (re: Aina Gallego’s paper): reasons why less interested learn more through the Internet could be that more interested have a wider range of information sources and rely not on serendipity. On the other hand, because their threshold for new information is higher than non interested. It would be useful, then, to add a couple more variables: (1) do you rely on other sources to get political information and how many (2) how well do you think you are informed on political issues.

Rachel Gibson: It might also be a case that the information you find on the Internet is low quality and thus it has a negative effect on your knowledge level.


Citizen Politics workshop (2009)

Citizen politics (IV): New Mobilization Strategies

Notes from the workshop Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? held in Barcelona, Spain, on May 28-30th, 2009. More notes on this event: citizen_politics_2009.

Assessing Internet Mobilization – A Methodological Approach for Integrating Web Analysis and Survey Data
Camilo Cristancho and Jorge Salcedo

Analysis on two demonstrations against the crisis: how were they organized and how were people mobilized.

How did you find out about this protest rally: face to face (44%), e-mail (31%), traditional media (15%), website (10%).

Online mobilization is received by the same profile of individuals who get mobilized by offline channels: participants are both activists and Internet users.

Online contact is limited to association networks. Organizations are more likely to use face-to-face and less likely to use e-mail.

Past participation types have an influence on future ways of contact: people that have taken action online are more likely to get e-mail. E-mail mobilization is linked to past forms of online engagement, though there is no previous consent to get these e-mails.

Surprisingly, on a second order mobilization, activists contacted online shifted to offline to propagate the message.

Associations which mobilize the majority of people do not have a high presence in cyberspace: there is an inverse relationship between presence and e-mail mobilization.

Internet mobilization has a great potential for expanding participation. On the other hand, need for visibility leads to clusterization and concentration.

Opt in or Tune out: Online Mobilization & Political Participation
Brian Krueger

There is a huge difference between solicited contact between online and offline models: online contact from mobilizing institutions is 62% unsolicited vs. 38% solicited. In offline contact, 24% is solicited and 76% is unsolicited. It thus looks like online activists are always “the same people”, and it is easier to expand your base for mobilization by going offline. At least in theory. At least in a first order of things.

Expanding participation by online means would then depend on several things, and it depends whether you want to activate the active (mobilization from solicited political e-mail) or you want to activate the inactive (mobilization from unsolicited political e-mail).

So, does unsolicited political e-mail induce individuals to participate in politics?

Unsolicited online mobilizing measures do not seem to have an influence on being actually mobilized. Same with offline, though, if it has any impact, it is more due to the system (being offline) than because of it being solicited or unsolicited.

There’s another point to be made: major institutions (parties, political organizations) do not normally engage in unsolicited mailing. This might be another reason why unsolicited e-mail is not effective: because it is used by already “marginal” organizations, so it’s the organization (not the means) what does not matter.

Research should be made on a 2-step mobilization process, where more focus is put on the role of friends and family, so that to avoid the appearance of spam. Need for more studies on peer-to-peer engagement.

The Impact of Online and Offline mobilization on Participation Modes
Sarah Vissers, Marc Hooghe, Dietlind Stolle and Valérie-Anne Mahéo

Is mobilization tool-specific or is there a spill-over effect of online mobilization on offline participation and of face-to-face mobilization on online participation and visa versa?

An experiment was designed with two organizations trying to mobilize (online and offline) two different groups of people (+ control group) to rally for environmental issues.

Results show that in the long run, mobilization rates drop, but for the group belonging to a lower socio-economic profile, the web (web tools) has a positive impact in maintaining mobilization rates.

For face to face, it always has a positive effect on both groups regardless of their socio-economic profile, but web mobilization has a negative effect in the long run in the higher socio-economic level group.


  • Effects of mobilization processes tend to be tool-specific.
  • Pre-existing levels of Internet skills had no effect on the mobilization potential of Web mobilization.
  • Strong differences between students and participants with lower socio-economic status. Mobilization most effective for least-mobilizsed and least-interested.


Andrew Chadwick (discussant): A distinction between impersonal unsolicited e-mail and interpersonal unsolicited e-mail. Where’s the line that separates spam from “ambient information”? What about the economy of time? We should do more research on the availability of time amongst activists, and see whether they go online because they cannot attend face-to-face meetings, or they precisely go online because they have plenty of time to commit in more ways. And also use time as a proxy of the degree of involvement of a specific individual in a specific action, and thus be able to compare offline and online activities with a common “currency”.


Citizen Politics workshop (2009)