Opinion-building in the Digital Age

Open Panel

The digital transformation seems to have transformed political processes of opinion-building across societies at a tremendous speed and dynamic. While the most salient phenomena of political communication in a digitally transformed public sphere (echo chambers, social bots, disinformation etc.) have been intensely discussed in recent years, the day-to-day practices of and general implications for opinion building require further research. In times of the crisis of representation, new digital forms of campaigning, mobilization and responsiveness emerge. They call for a revision of widely shared assumptions on the functioning of the political and communicative process. Therefore, the open panel calls for theoretical and/or empirical contributions to this fledgling field of research. Possible research questions are:
• Which roles do different actor groups (representative politicians, parties, classical media, so-cial media, NGOs, activist groupings, private companies etc.) play in opinion-building processes?
• How is political leadership transformed? Do the new dynamics foster nationalism? Where/ Under which circumstances do opinion-building-processes transcend national borders?
• How are audiences transformed? Which effects do these transformations have for opinion-building? Which media and communication techniques play a special role for these transformations? How do digital infrastructures shape opinion-building?
• Are groups that were previously marginalized now included into opinion-building – either through active participation or passive observation via digital tools?
• Which differences and similarities can be identified in comparative analyses across periods of time, political issues, countries or other levels of governance, regime types etc.?