PROJECTS

Project: DATADRIVEN

Data-driven campaigns: intended and unintended consequences for democracy

This project studies if data-driven campaigns using online microtargeting techniques are a threat to democracy. The consortium will focus on both the intended and unintended consequences of data-driven targeting and digital persuasion. In light of ongoing political and societal turmoil, investigating how citizens may be persuaded in a turbulent age and in a changing media landscape has never been more important. The studies will focus on micro (consequences for citizens), meso (consequences for political elites), and macro level effects (consequences for democracy).

The project’s main research questions are:

  • How do organizations shape election campaigns by targeting potential voters online during elections
  • What are the constitutional and legislative frameworks shaping the extent and nature of data-driven campaigning in European countries?
  • How are data-driven targeting practices perceived?
  • To what extent do data-driven targeting practices actually affect voters?

The project extends and empirically tests a theoretical framework of data-driven campaigning, while using a mixture of research methods and a comparative perspective. The project will offer a deeper understanding of online data-driven targeting techniques during elections in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and United Kingdom.

The project (2020 – 2023) has been awarded € 1,06 million Euro by NORFACE, see more on this program here.

Research team:
Dr. Sanne Kruikemeier
University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Sophie Lecheler
University of Vienna

Dr. Katharine Dommett
University of Sheffield

Prof. dr. Rachel Gibson
University of Manchester

Prof. dr. Jörg Matthes
University of Vienna

Dr. Lukas Otto
University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Claes de Vreese
University of Amsterdam

 

 

PROJECT: ONLINE BATTLES

The impact of online battles: Use and implications of political conflict frames in a digital media environment

Politicians increasingly use online and social media to communicate with voters directly, without the interference of journalists. In doing so, they frequently use conflict framing (e.g., criticizing other politicians, ideas, or institutions). Conflicts can take a variety of forms and have different effects. We know that conflict framing can mobilize and inform voters, but it can also lead to cynicism and disengagement. What is unclear, however, is whether and, if so, how the nature of the conflict frame that is used moderates these effects. Central questions of this project (2020 – 2024) are how prevalent different kinds of conflict frames are, whether different kinds of conflict have a differential impact on political engagement and cynicism, and how they impact democracy. Drawing on philosophical literature about disagreement, we distinguish conflicts based on the following characteristics: whether they deal with factual or normative claims; whether they are superficial and isolated or deep and clustered; merely verbal or genuine; and personal or issue-based. To address our research questions, we apply a mixed-method design. The project builds upon a literature review and conceptual analysis, manual and computer-assisted content analyses of online communication of politicians, and an experiment (deploying eye-tracking). By introducing conceptual distinctions from philosophy, this project will develop and enrich conflict framing theory. It will provide empirical input to philosophical debates about disagreement and democratic deliberation, thus feeding into the newly established field of political epistemology. This project contributes to understanding the role of conflict framing in a digital media environment and the implications for democracy. This project is funded by the NWO Open Competition for Digitalization SSH.

Research team:
Dr. Sanne Kruikemeier
University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Rens Vliegenthart
University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Jeroen de Ridder
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Emma van der Goot, Msc
University of Amsterdam