For Research Committees: Call for Panels

“Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties“

The International Political Science Association (IPSA) is organizing an international conference that will be held on 4-6 December 2017 in Hannover, Germany. Chaired by Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner, the conference will take place in Hannover’s spectacular Palace of Herrenhausen, surrounded by gardens that date back to the Baroque period.

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. The conference aims to bring together officials and members of the national Political Science Associations of IPSA and members the IPSA Research Committees in order to further develop networks and cooperation among these groups. The conference will also be a platform for addressing challenges as well as developing ideas for future research within IPSA. 

Digitalization - or the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of everyday life - is the most dominant signature of the 21th century so far. Society, economy and politics are all affected by a multitude of implications that digitalization embodies. The Internet and social media have not only multiplied the communications channels in an unprecedented way but also have had a substantial impact on the interaction between politicians and citizens as well as all societal actors. Formerly more or less institutionalized channels of communication between on one side politicians and media, on the other side media and citizens have been replaced by a myriad of decentralized networks. While actors in politics and media formerly steered communications flows, digital-based networks now tend to have unpredictable effects in their scope, scale, and therefore in their impact. Opinion-building and decision-making processes are increasingly influenced by the functional logic of digital media; factors like the acceleration and synchronicity of information, the multimodality of the messages, and the interactivity and connectedness of providers and users all are reshaping social, economic, and political life. This is true for domestic as well as for international politics. The dissolution of communicative boundaries creates a new transnational space of connectedness on all levels of agency. In consequence, ideas, norms and values spread more easily and rapidly; in the same way the diffusion of policies, institutional elements, and governance techniques are facilitated.

For the discipline of Political Science the digital revolution implies at least two challenges: On one side, the subjects of research are concerned: national as well as international actors, communication between government and societal actors, the relation between politicians and citizens, aspects of political economy, aspects of regulation, e-governance and net politics, diplomacy cybercrimes and cyberwar etc. On the other side, digitalization influences the academic sphere not only in terms of research but also in terms of teaching, learning and publishing. This latter challenge includes the more practical dimension involving political consulting and policy recommendations. 

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. Such a broad perspective will enable examining how digital media transforms the relations and communications between international, governmental and societal actors. The conference will comprehend five thematic sessions: 

Sessions

Political Theory

How do digital media influence the public sphere? Do they open new spaces for deliberation? What implications does it have for politics if the boundary between public and private increasingly becomes blurred? Where are the boundaries between gains of freedom and loss of privacy? What does it imply about political discourse now that citizens have become content providers? Does the openness of information foster more knowledge or does it facilitate the ‘transparent citizen’? 

Comparative Politics

How will the digital revolution affect politics? How do politicians use digital media? What changes can we observe in electoral campaigning and elections themselves? And how do citizens use digital media? Can citizens’ online participation fill the ‘participation gap’ and enhance legitimacy? Or are emerging new participatory divides? Does the digital revolution help spread knowledge and/or allow ever more elite control of information provision? Which digital divides can be identified and which effects do they have on opinion-building and decision-making? Is the Internet prone to enhance inclusion or does is accentuate exclusiveness among people? Do e-voting, e-referenda, etc. provide new opportunities for decision-making and political accountability? How do authoritarian regimes exploit digital media? Does digitalization help keep them in power or provide means to push for more democracy? 

International Relations and World Economy

How do digital communications and networks affect relations among countries? Is the digital revolution an asset or rather a stress factor for international politics? What consequences does this new ‘openness’ have for international diplomacy? Is the digital revolution a source of progress or rather an obstacle for international cooperation? What impact will cyberwarfare have? Does this represent a new domain of conflict among countries, which is more dangerous?  What are the implications of the fact that the providers of communication networks and the owners of massive amounts of personal data like Google and Facebook at the same time are firms? Will the digital revolution accelerate economic growth or retard it? Will it increase inequality given the “digital divide” among countries, or help alleviate it? Will it increase the probability of economic crises as it speeds up communications and compounds agents’ reactions? And does the availability of ever more data available to ever more people at ever faster speeds provide more benefits or more dangers? 

Methods

Which new methodological tools have been facilitated by digital technology? And which new methodological approaches or tools do we need to capture online communication and interaction (e.g., online content analysis)? Which new ways of data collection are available, and what are the implications for researchers for data protection? Do we need new theories and concepts? How should studies be tailored to capture the empirical implications of digitalization in the various subdisciplines?

Teaching and Learning

Which new opportunities provides digitalization for teaching (see e.g. MOOCs)? Which teaching formats can combine digital and analogue approaches? Who can benefit from e-learning and how? How can citizenship education benefit from digital modes of knowledge and value building? 

 

Proposal Procedure

The conference consists of different formats of panels. The Program Chairs offer the Research Committees to organize panels in the exposed Sessions. The slots for each panel are 90 minutes. Please submit panel proposals until April, 15 2017.

What to include in your panel proposal:

  1. The Session where they want to be allocated. 
  2. Title of the panel. 
  3. Chair and Co-Chair, discussant for the panel (names, affiliation, mailing address). 
  4. Abstracts of 4-5 paper givers (names, affiliation, mailing address).

Please send the proposals to hannover2017@ipsa.org.


Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner
Program Chairs