Civic political engagement

  Civic political engagement and public spheres in the new digital era  

Sciences Po Paris

24 Juin, 2014 - 27 Juin, 2014

  Application Deadline: 20 Janvier, 2014 Contact:  


Democratic participation, though a highly contested concept, may be understood as the extended involvement of individuals in a collective political decision-free and/or decision-making process. The potential that the Internet may offer for increasing participation has been a subject of some debate for almost two decades, with the emergence of new Web 2.0 communication technologies further challenging the view that a participatory or semi-deliberative democracy remains a much an utopian ideal. Equally the notion of political participation, once viewed as a range of formal activities such as voting or contacting officials, has broadened to include ‘non-traditional forms of participation’ facilitated within online environments such as commenting and sharing within communities of interest. There is, therefore, potential for the Internet to have a positive impact upon democratic participation, through drawing new participants to political engagement, facilitating greater knowledge, and lowering the barriers to participation and facilitating communication among citizens but also between citizens and elected officials. The debates rage on. Some researchers argue that those with a psychological involvement with politics will seek like-minded individuals that reinforce their existing prejudices. Others find online civic engagement involving information seeking can lead to participation in political discussion and active participation. Importantly the findings that all three activities are correlated, and that one active citizenship. There remains insufficient research on the role and effects of new tools offered by Web 2.0, such as the social networks, purely online media, the blogosphere, the rise of an online commentariat using forums and participatory spaces as well as ‘viewer-created’ content utilizing sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr). It is these gaps that the workshop seeks to fill.

Call for participants

The workshop aims to bring together researchers from diverse disciplines to develop new understandings of civic political engagement, attitudes towards political participation, effects on political knowledge, and revisit the role of traditional and new media as a source of political information for the digital era.

We invite papers around the following themes:

  • Traditional and non-traditional forms of civic political engagement: Papers should theoretically and empirically compare and contrast traditional and non-traditional (Web 2.0) forms of political engagement.
  • Civic political engagement – still preaching to the converted: Papers should address the notion of whether the Internet leads to an expansion of the political public sphere; preferably using ‘big data’ corpuses papers should explore gaps between genders and generations as well as educational, knowledge, media usage gaps.
  • Cognition and behavior: Papers should explore the associative dynamics between media usage, political information gathering, political knowledge, political attitudes and political engagement building upon existing theoretical approaches to behaviorism.
  • Methodological approaches: Papers should explore new methodological approaches to gathering data on different forms of political activity, offline and online and interrogate how we gain representative and valid data on the complex behaviors in online environments.

Workshop format

The workshop will take place over four days. The optimum number of presenters will be twenty-five, all abstracts will be reviewed and selected on the basis of depth, goodness of fit and breadth. Presentations will take place within themed blocks. Each paper will have 45 minutes, 20 for presentation, 10 for discussant and 15 for general discussion.

The workshop will close with a plenary that discusses the issues drawn from the presentations and plans for a joint research funding bid to the Horizon 2020 funding stream.


We invite one participant per paper.

All participants are asked to stay during all four days of the workshop. Each participant will discuss one of the papers from the conference.


There is no participation fee.