New media and politics: citizen participation in the websites of Portuguese political parties

The aim of this project is to investigate if the participation allowed to citizens by the websites of Portuguese political parties meets citizens’ expectations. In fact, with the advent of the Web 2.0, the websites of the political parties started offering a wide range of tools and forms of participation that allow citizens to create and share contents, and get involved in social networks. As we should expect, there are citizens that correspond to this offer, especially during political campaigns. The problem, however, is to know if those tools and forms of participation: i) Are effectively at stake during the “normal” periods, i.e., the periods between electoral campaigns, which correspond to limited and specific occasions; ii) Consubstantiate a real political participation, with some impact and consequences on the political parties agenda (themes, activities) or, on the contrary, a mere simulation of participation with mere propagandistic intentions.

The ultimate goal of this project is to gather and provide knowledge, both theoretical and practical, allowing political parties and citizens to ameliorate political communication through the websites. Although the websites of the political parties have been adapting to web 2.0 demands, in reality, no one knows if that corresponds to what citizens want, and no one knows if they feel represented and satisfied with the tools available. This project aims to shed some light into such questions, producing data which can, in turn, be used to sharpen the communication strategies of the parties. The specific objectives of this project are: (i) To analyse the tools and forms that the websites of Portuguese political parties offer to citizens’ participation, namely in what refers to the creation and sharing of contents, and the involvement in social networks (Smith & Rainie,2008); ii) To pratically test the way political parties answer (or not) to citizens’ use of those tools and forms of participation; (iii) To know the opinion of the Portuguese political leaders and the responsible for the websites of the political parties about such participation and, more specifically, if this participation leads to changes in the political party agenda (themes, activities); (iv) Toknow the Portuguese citizens’ opinion about the tools and forms of participation that the websites of the political parties offer them.

 

Project coordinator: Joaquim Paulo Serra


Research team: António Fidalgo, Anabela Gradim, Américo de Sousa, Eduardo Camilo, Gisela Gonçalves, Ivone Ferreira, João Canavilhas, Paulo Serra, Rosália Rodrigues, Tito Cardoso e Cunha.


Startingdate: March 1, 2012


Duration: 36 months


Funding: FCT (Science and Technology Portuguese Foundation)


Events: 

 

 

Support:
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
União Europeia
Quadro de Referência Estratégico Nacional
Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade
Universidade da Beira Interior