My new book illuminates the role that social media play in political participation and democratic governance. The book is titled Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, and co-authored with Dr Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna). The book is published in the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series. Based on unique, custom-built survey data on samples representative of internet users, we argue that social media are redefining the ways in which citizens engage with political information and that, overall, these changes have small but positive implications for political participation in Western democracies. In particular, social media play a role in bridging participatory gaps between citizens who are more and less politically involved. The book relies on the comparative method to test hypotheses on the role of systemic differences across countries, such as electoral systems, media systems, and strength of party organizations. This is made possible by data collected in standardized ways across a diverse sample of nine Western democracies: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.
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In my first book, Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), I shed light on how parties structure their online presence to inform and mobilize citizens, and on how citizens use the internet to gather political information in seven Western democracies (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) between 2006 and 2010. The book is the first, and to date only, work of this kind that focuses both on the supply and demand sides of online political communication—addressing both parties and citizens—and that employs the comparative method to test hypotheses about the role of systemic factors as well as establishing firmer generalizations than those allowed by single-country case studies. One of the key findings of the book, which is enduring the test of time well, is that the United States is quite distinctive among Western democracies, mostly due to its institutional characteristics, in providing strong incentives for both parties, candidates, and citizens to campaign and participate online. In a review published in West European Politics, Jonathan Bright has been defined the book “an impressive contribution to the literature on the internet and politics, which injects a much-needed comparative perspective into a body of work which has been overwhelmingly dominated by perspectives from Anglo-American academia.”
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R. Grandi, C. Vaccari, Come si vincono le elezioni: Elementi di comunicazione politica. Roma: Carocci, 2013.
C. Vaccari, La politica online: Internet, partiti e cittadini nelle democrazie occidentali. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012.
>>> Winner of the “Pietro Grilli di Cortona” prize for the best book written by an Italian political scientist under the age of 40 in the years 2012-2013, awarded by the Italian Society of Political Science, 2014.
C. Vaccari, La comunicazione politica negli USA. Roma: Carocci, 2007.
R. Grandi, C. Vaccari, Elementi di comunicazione politica: Marketing elettorale e strumenti per la cittadinanza. Roma: Carocci, 2007.
R. Grandi, C. Vaccari, Cofferati anch’io: Un anno di campagna elettorale a Bologna. Milano: Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2004.