Tutorial 1 - Mariana Lameiras

Citizens, Politics, and Social Media - Trends, Impacts and Lessons Learnt 


With globalization and technological innovations, participatory processes are being challenged like never before. The traditional role played by the media in democratic societies used to be high in the researchers’ agenda with focus on media as informers, watchdogs and as facilitators for discussion and deliberation [1]. Nevertheless, these roles were significantly influenced by many variables as technological innovations and globalization [2], [3].

How citizens nowadays interact and engage with public issues, in public and private spheres, is constantly changing and digital technologies play a crucial role in this process ([4]). While digital technologies and digital media impact citizen’s engagement and transform e-participation, the concrete consequences and qualitative assessment of those forms of interaction is not obvious. This leads us to international remarks focusing on the evolving technology which continuously requires ‘chasing the digital wave’ [5].

Although it seems that politics and political parties are compelled to be online and to be digital [6], this implies adaptation mechanisms and practices, which may be found hard to accomplish [7], [8]. In addition, it is quite challenging to find correspondence between online intentions and/or reactions and offline practices [9]. Indeed, digital media are prominent contributors to the “hybridization of the organizational practices of parties, movements and interest groups” [10], with both positive [11] and negative impact [12].

This tutorial combines a theoretical and practical perspective by approaching e-Participation and digital media considering the following outline: 1) theoretical background and approaches to the topic; 2) literature and policy review of the impact of digital technologies and digital media in citizens’ engagement in politics; 3) the impact of social media in citizens’ engagement with politics with reference to international orientations and best practices; 4) emphasis on digitally- enhanced political parties. 


  1. J. Trappel and T. Maniglio, ‘On Media Monitoring - The Media for Democracy Monitor (MDM)’, Communications, vol. 34, pp. 169–201, 2009.
  2. H. Sousa, ‘Information Technologies, Social Change and the Future’, Eur. J. Commun., vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 373–387, 2006.
  3. J. Trappel, H. Nieminen, W. A. Meier, and B. Thomass, ‘What Media Crisis? Normative Standing Points’, in European Media in Crisis: Values, Risks and Policies, Josef Trap., New York, NY: Routledge, 2015, pp. 3–19.
  4. A. Smith, ‘Civic engagement in the digital age’, Pew Internet Am. Life Proj., no. August 2012, pp. 1–12, 2013.
  5. R. Gibson, A. Römmele, and A. Williamson, ‘Chasing the Digital Wave: International Perspectives on the Growth of Online Campaigning’, J. Inf. Technol. Polit., vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 123–129, 2014.
  6. K. Demirhan, ‘Relationship between Social Media and Political Parties: The Case of Turkey’, in Political Campaigning in the Information Age, A. M. G. Solo, Ed. Hershey: IGI Global, 2014, pp. 1–31.
  7. A. Römmele, ‘Political Parties, Party Communication and New Information and Communication Technologies’, Party Polit., vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 7–20, 2003.
  8. C. Vaccari, ‘A Europe Wide Web?: Political Parties’ Websites in the 2009 European Parliament Elections’, in Political Campaigning in the Information Age, A. M. G. Solo, Ed. Hershey: IGI Global, 2014, pp. 66–87.
  9. E. Bonsón, S. Royo, and M. Ratkai, ‘Citizens’ Engagement on Local Governments’ Facebook Sites. An Empirical Analysis: The Impact of Different Media and Content Types in Western Europe’, Gov. Inf. Q., vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 52–62, 2015.
  10. C. Vaccari, ‘The News Media as Networked Political Actors’, Information, Commun. Soc., vol. 14, no. 7, pp. 981–997, 2011.
  11. I. Biernacka-Ligieza, ‘New Media in the Process of Shaping Local Democracy: The Case of Poland’, in Political Campaigning in the Information Age, Hershey: IGI Global, 2014, pp. 88–109.
  12. U. Klinger, ‘Mastering the Art of Social Media’, Information, Commun. Soc., vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 717–736, 2013. 




Mariana Lameiras is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV) with particular interest in the impact of digital media in citizen’s participation and decision-making processes. She holds a PhD in Communication Sciences, specifically in Political Economy of Communication and Media Governance. She first joined UNU-EGOV to develop research, with Tomasz Janowski and Elsa Es- tevez, on how digital technologies and digital media are redefining the way political parties fulfill their role as collective platforms for political participation of citizens. She is also a researcher at the Communication and Society Research

Centre (CSRC), based at the University of Minho (Braga-Portugal). She is a national correspon- dent of the European Audiovisual Observatory collaborator (EAO) and the Institute for Infor- mation Law (University of Amsterdam), developing collective studies and writing articles on a permanent basis for IRIS - Legal Observations of the EAO and the Merlin database. 


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