Digitalisation and the Transnational Public Sphere

The research group investigates the impact of digital technologies and media in the formation of transnational and national online issue publics, communication infrastructures and processes of political mobilization. We focus on right-wing and populist-right communication ecologies which develop around critical issues such as migration, asylum, anti-feminism, xenophobia or anti-Islamism in various European countries and the US. The research group takes a comparative perspective on right-wing communication and applies computational social science methods including data scraping, topic modelling, and network analysis.

The role of digital technologies

The research group examines the role of digital technologies and network communication in right-wing and populist-right movements across Europe and the US. We focus on the formation of communication infrastructures, online issue publics and transnational linkages around critical issues such as migration, asylum, anti-feminism, xenophobia, and anti-Islamism in various European countries.

The influence of digital media

How do digital media influence the nature of issue careers, the dynamics of political mobilization, the patterns of coalition building in these anti-democratic movements? To what degree do digital media foster transnational linkages between right wing networks and populist movements? In our studies we analyze the characteristics of digital platforms, the interactions between traditional mass media and social media in hybrid media systems, as well as the dynamics of national and transnational dissemination processes and information flows. Our research designs stand out by their comparative nature focusing on European liberal democracies. Moreover, our studies apply computational social science methods such as data scraping, topic modelling, and network analysis.

The Ph.D. studies examine the networks of anti-asylum groups on Facebook in order to assess the significance of digital media for right wing movements in Germany. Another study asks how stereotypes about gender and womanhood are represented in digital communication networks of the political right. The study reconstructs generic and national frames about female self-determination in right-wing movement networks. A third study examines network structures and topic convergence of international right-wing actors migrating to Russian social media for communication and coalition building.

Research group Digitalisation and the Transnational Public Sphere at the ECPR

The 14th ECPR General Conference takes place virtually this year from August 24th to August 28th. It is one of the most prominent conferences in Europe dedicated to political research. Our research group Digitalisation and the Transnational Public Sphere (Weizenbaum Institute / FU Berlin) takes part in the conference by organizing two thematic panels and giving five talks.

The panels and talks prepared by the group are discussing the results of studies exploring communication patterns of European right-wing parties during election campaigns, anti-elitism of radical right actors, antifeminism and national feminism in online space, migration of radical right actors to safer digital platforms, and connections between digital media and local protests.

You can find a more detailed timetable on the website of the conference. See you at ECPR!

Call for Abstracts: Special Issue of the Journal "Javnost – The Public"

Scholars are invited to submit abstracts for a special issue of the journal "Javnost – The Public", edited by Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Barbara Pfetsch and former Weizenbaum Fellow Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Trenz. The special issue will be dedicated to the topic of "Reclaiming the public sphere in a global health crisis" and will comprise a collection of contributions that discusses public sphere dynamics and functioning in a situation of societal lockdown, closure of public life, and forced retreat into privacy.

For further information read the full Call for Abstracts.

Abstracts of prospective articles should include information about the theoretical framework, the general argument of the study and in case of empirical research the data source and empirical evidence on which the findings are based. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and sent to Hans-Jörg Trenz, University of Kopenhagen (trenz[at] by September 15, 2020.

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