International Workshop 2018

Political Online Participation and its Effects: Theory, Measurement & Results

Workshop for discussion and development of a special issue in Policy & Internet

19 – 20th November 2018

Schloss Mickeln (Düsseldorf/Germany)


About the Workshop

The workshop (jointly organized by the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy and the PhD programme NRW Forschungskolleg Online Participation) brings together an international group of scholars that provide different perspectives on the effects of political online participation. The authors have been invited based on their extended abstracts to an open call. The workshop serves as a venue for discussions about the individual paper proposals and aims to facilitate the development of full papers that merit inclusion in a special issue of the journal Policy & Internet, scheduled for publication in late 2019. On the basis of the workshop discussions participants are expected to submit a full paper to a double-blind peer-review for the special issue (deadline: 15 March 2019).

The area of interest of this special issue is public participation that utilizes digital information and communication technologies. By public participation we are referring to participation that is implemented by state authorities to provide citizens with opportunities to influence political and administrative decision-making. In this special issue the interest is primarily focused on the effects of such innovative forms of online participation, in particular on the questions:

  • What kind of effects could be expected and what causal mechanisms can be modelled?
  • How do these effects compare to the effects expected of offline participation?
  • How can potential effects be operationalized, measured and evaluated in practice?
  • What effects have already been observed empirically?

So far, the field of online participation research has been marked by a lack of theory about possible effects and their underlying social mechanisms, a diversity of approaches to evaluate effects and an emphasis on single case studies that have produced only few findings which can be generalized. Therefore, this special issue aims to include approaches from different academic disciplines and different methods of measurement to apply them to different forms of participation. The program includes contributions from all disciplines that deal with the questions outlined above, e.g. Computer Science, Communication Studies, Law, Political Science, and Sociology. Contributions should lay out a theoretical argument referring to the underlying mechanisms of certain effects, provide a discussion of how these mechanisms and effects could be measured and evaluated and ideally present results of empirical studies. Each contribution should discuss if and how the investigated online forms of participation differ in their effects from offline forms of similar or related participation processes.


A documentation of the 2017 conference “Online participation on the local level – a comparative perspective” can be found here.