Welcome to "Political Science in the Digital Age"

IPSA is sponsoring an international conference from 4-6 December this year 2017, organized by Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner. The conference, entitled “Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties,“ provides the opportunity for a reflection on the discipline and one of its most relevant challenges, namely digitalization. At the same time, the conference aims to bring together national Political Science Associations, other IPSA members, and the IPSA Research Committees in order to further develop networks and cooperation among these groups. The conference also will be a platform for addressing problems as well as designing ideas for future research within IPSA.

Digitalization and digital communication constitute a major challenge not only for politics but also for our discipline in manifold aspects: research, teaching and learning, data collection, data dissemination and protection, innovative methods, etc. It is important that political scientists reflect on the current and future implications that the digital age holds for the discipline. The aim of the conference is to examine these challenges adopting a broad approach that draws on numerous fields such as Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory and Research Methods. Furthermore, we will examine how digitalization affects the academic sphere in terms of teaching and learning, publishing, editing, and finally consulting. Since IPSA can bring together scholars from around the world, the conference will explore how the presence of digital media influences politics as well as the discipline itself in different regions around the globe.

Keynote Speaker

Professor José van DijckProfessor José van Dijck
Utrecht University / President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

José van Dijck is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands) and the president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Van Dijck’s academic discipline is media studies and her field of interests ‘digital society.’ She received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, (USA) in 1992. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media and communication technologies, social media, and digital culture. She is the author of six books, three co-edited volumes and approximately one hundred journal articles and book chapters. Van Dijck’s book The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media (Oxford UP, 2013) was distributed worldwide and was recently translated into Spanish. She is currently working on a book with Thomas Poell and Martijn de Waal titled The Platform Society. Public values in a connective world; the Dutch version was published in November 2016 and the English book is due in 2018 with Oxford University Press.


Keynote Address - Public values in a global online society


Online digital platforms, which are overwhelmingly American-based and operated, have penetrated every sector of American and Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labor relations, circumventing institutions, and transforming social and civic practices. Platforms steer users’ behavior and social traffic that is increasingly data-driven and algorithmically organized. They are gradually infiltrating in, and clashing with, the institutional processes through which European democratic societies are organized. Platforms are neither neutral nor value-free constructs; the norms and values inscribed in their architectures may clash with the societal structures in which they are gradually embedded. So the emerging ‘platform society’ involves an intense struggle between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions like: Who is or should be responsible and accountable for anchoring public values in a platform society?


Public values include of course privacy, accuracy, safety, and security, but they also pertain to broader societal effects, such as fairness, accessibility, democratic control, and accountability. Public values and the common good are the very stakes in the struggle over the platformization of societies around the globe. This lecture concentrates on the position of European (private and public) interests vis-à-vis the interests of an American online ecosystem, driven by a handful of high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) that have become global data mining companies. While fights over regulation play out at various local and national levels, they cannot be seen apart from the power clashes between global high-tech companies and (supra-)national governments. At the heart of the online media’s industry’s surge is the battle over information control: who owns the data generated by online social activities? Particularly in the European context, governments can be proactive in negotiating public values on behalf of citizens and consumers.



The conference is supported by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Volkswagen Foundation

The German Political Science Association is providing a travel grant.

DVPW logo


DFG logo

Third Day at IPSA 2017 International Conference: “Political Science in the Digital Age”

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Digital Resources and Tools for the Analysis of Political Communication
The panel started at 9 am comprised paper presentations of innovative use of digital resources and CSS methods for the analysis of political communication. The panel was chaired by Prof. Wolf Schünemann (University of Hildesheim, Germany) and Simon Rinas (University of Hildesheim, Germany).

At the beginning of the panel, Prof. Zachary Elkins (University of Texas, US) discussed the papers. The panellists then presented their papers.

Dr. Sebastian Stier (Center for Advanced Internet Studies, Germany) talked about social media in terms of political communication.

Afterwards, Prof. Andreas Blätte (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany), highlighted the vision of public digital archives of democracy. Finally, Prof. Oscar Luengo (University of Granada, Spain) focused on algorithms in political communication.

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Roundtable III: Digitalization as Challenge for Political Consulting
At 11 am Prof. Dr. Marianne Kneuer (University of Hildesheim, Germany) introduced the participants/discussants as the chair of the Roundtable III: Digitalization as Challenge for Political.

Dr. Johanna Niesyto (Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Germany) talked about social democracy and its relations with digitalization. Since the work of Friedrich-Ebert Foundation’s political foundation focuses on the core ideas and values of social democracy - freedom, justice and solidarity, the fundamental question of digitalization is an important topic.

Afterwards, Dr. Wilhelm Krull (Secretary General, Volkswagen Foundation, Germany) addressed the transformation process of the past 20 years.

Prof. Jeanette Hofmann (WZB Berlin Social Science center, Germany) highlighted the Internet research transformation process. She explained new issues she had come across such as Big data as a new technique and tool of regulation.

Dr. Viola Neu (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Germany) talked about digitalization and Internet as a new source to conduct surveys.

Second day at IPSA 2017 International Conference: “Political Science in the Digital Age”

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Methods Workshop

The second day of the conference started at 9 am with several panels and a methods workshop. The workshop was chaired by Prof. Zachary Elkins (University of California, Berkeley) and Prof. Matthias Koenig (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen). During the event, speakers addressed the tension in ontology construction by highlighting several topics including openness vs. inclusion. These topics have been intensively discussed with the audience.


Methods of Online Analysis

Prof. Margaret Roberts (University of California San Diego, United States of America) chaired the panel of Methods of Online Analysis where she also presented a paper titled “Authoritarian Online Transparency and Chinese Courts”. In this panel, Prof. Nils Weidmann (University of Konstanz, Germany) addressed the topic of Denial-of-Service Attacks in Authoritarian Regimes. Prof. Anita Ghodes (University of Zurich, Switzerland) discussed the Internet’s role to inform us about conflicts. Finally, Prof. Thomas Zeithoff focused on world leaders’use of social media during contentious politics.

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Cybersecurity and Human Rights in the Online World

Prof. Ronald Deibert (University of Toronto, Canada) chaired the next panel on cybersecurity and human rights. Dr. Stefania Milan (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) opened the papers section after Prof. Deibert’s short introduction on the topic. Dr. Milan highlighted the opportunities for civil society in the online world. Irene Poetranto (University of Toronto, Canada) presentation focused on the influence of major powers on South-East Asia. Prof. Jonathon Penney (Citizen Lab, University of Toronto/ Dalhousie University, Canada) pointed out that cybersecurity literature remains largely narrow despite the calls for research on the impact of state resilience. As the last speaker, Dr. Madeline Carr (Cardiff University, UK) discussed the following question: “What does cyber security mean for human beings?”.

Electronic Teaching: MOOCS

The panel on MOOCS (Massive open online course) started 11 am. Prof. Mauro Calise (University of Naples Frederico II, Italy) took the floor as the chair but and presented a paper with Prof. Fortunato Musella (University of Naples Frederico II, Italy) entitled “MOOCs. Pioneering an Open Access Online Core PS Curriculum for Worldwide Students”. Dr. Valentina Reda (University of Naples Frederico II, Italy) also presented another paper titled “MOOCs at a Crossroad: Spreading the Gospel or the Credits?” Finally, in her presentation, Laura Sibinescu (University of Helsinki, Finland) highlighted some of the problems that political science faces in the quickly evolving MOOC landscape, talked about some practical ways in which the massive open online model can adapt in order to work around these problems.

Sage Publishing Book Reception

Sage Publishing organized a book reception to celebrate the release of Political Science- A Global Perspective, written by Leonardo Morlino, Dirk Berg-Schlosser and Bertrand Badie. The book, published by Sage in 2017, is a perfect introduction for postgraduates who are new to political science, as well as upper-level undergraduates looking to broaden and deepen their understanding of core topics. At the book reception, Prof. Berg-Schlosser gave a short speech and introduced the book.

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Roundtable II: Digitalization as Challenge for Publishing and Editing

Paul Godt (Editor of the International Political Science Abstracts) chaired the second Roundtable discussion on digitalization and gave an introduction speech. Dr. Alexandra Borchardt (Reuters Institute for the Study of journalism, Director of Strategic Development, UK) talked about digitalization as a challenge for journalism. She mentioned that news media are important for democracy but there is no vital business model for them. She also discussed the term “fake news” which has been popularized by US President Donald Trump. In her speech, Babara Budrich (Barbara Budrich Publishers) she explained that the development of academic publishing goes from quality to quantity. Dr. Andreas Beierwalters (Editorial Director, Social Sciences & Humanities at Springer VS, Germany) mentioned the importance of books for the young audience and pointed out that digitalization has more positive than negative effects on publishing and editing industry.

First day at IPSA 2017 International Conference: “Political Science in the Digital Age”

On the first day of the Political Science in the Digital Age Conference, various interesting sessions and events were held.

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Opening Ceremony

The conference opened at 9am with words of welcome from Prof. Marianne Kneuer, Prof. Helen Milner, Dr. Wilhelm Krull and Prof. Ilter Turan.

Prof. Marianne Kneuer (Program co-chair and First Vice President of IPSA) from the University of Hildesheim gave a short introduction on the structure of the first two hours of the conference.

Afterwards, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation Dr. Krull welcomed all participants to Herrenhausen Palace in Hannover.

IPSA President Prof. Ilter Turan also welcomed all delegates and stated that digitalization affects our personal and professional lives. The conference will, therefore, discuss digitalization as well as several opportunities for publishing research.

As the conference is organized in close collaboration with the University of Hildesheim as well as the Volkswagen Stiftung, Prof. Turan used the opportunity to thank everyone who dedicated a lot of work to the conference, especially mentioned Prof. Dr. Helen Milner and Prof. Marianne Kneuer.

Finally, in her speech, Prof. Helen Milner (Program co-chair) addressed digitalization as a huge phenomenon. Prof. Milner mentioned that digitalization has a two-sided face with enormous benefits and challenges which will be addressed during the conference.

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Keynote Address by José van Dijck
Prof. José van Dijck (Utrecht University/President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) gave a keynote lecture titled “Public Values in an Online World”.

In her lecture, Prof. van Dijck focused on the following topics: “How can European societies guard values and the common good in an online world?” as well as “platform ecosystems”, “platform mechanisms”, “public values” and “responsible actors”. She mentioned that the world is dominated by “gatekeeper companies” (such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Uber etc.) which offer various tools for urban transportation. Digitalization, therefore, affects our daily lives like the revolution of the urban transport system or the news system by implementing a connection.

At the end of her speech, Prof. van Djick gave a few recommendations such as articulating a value-centric policy for platforms, updating regulatory frameworks, stimulating non-profit and public platforms and promoting interdisciplinary research and design.

Panel: Gender Divides
The Panel titled Gender Divides was chaired by Dr. Asha Gupta from the University of Delhi. David Bertrand (University of Bordeaux) discussed the “New Possibilities for Moral Enforcement in the Digital Age: The Emerge of a Fourth Wave of Feminism” while Regina Renner (University of Würzburg) addressed “Digital Divides? Political Participation of Young People in the Digital World”.

David Bertrand focused on public shaming practices and online firestorms. He also explained moral judgments on social media and overcoming the second-order public good dilemma: moral judgments.

Regina Renner addressed several questions such as “How do we define e-participation?” and “How do we operationalize e-participation in quantitative surveys?” She presented her own figure about how to measure political e-participation including clicktivism, sharing and networking as well as “creative produsage”.  

Finally, Dr. Gupta highlighted the emerging trends in digitalization of democracy in the wake of a paradigm shift from representative to participatory democracy in general and especially whether digitalization can help women in India. According to Dr. Gupta, the gender-divide shows that very little research has been conducted about the use of digital space by women in India.

Book Panel: Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance
In this panel, Prof. Peter Cowhey and Prof. Jonathan Aronson discussed their recent book (Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance) which examines how digital technologies are the digital DNA that transforms the business models of firms, including agriculture, manufacturing and services.

The topic of the “Information and Production Disruption (IPD) and Innovation” was presented by Prof. Aronson. He explained when the digital technology becomes pervasive and talked about The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator which is a mentor-led accelerator focused on AgTech innovations. Prof. Cowhey addressed strategies for trade and regulation to respond constructively to the fundamental economic change. After the presentations, Q&A session has begun.

Additional information can be found on: www.oup.com/academic and digital-dna.org


Roundtable I: Regional Perspectives
In this first Roundtable panel on the Regional Perspectives, all the presentations focused on the situation of research and teaching in the discipline of Political Science from different perspectives of Asia-Pacific, Europe, MENA/Africa, Latin America and North America.