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Chadwick Stromer Galley IJPP Special Issue Intro v6 FINAL.pdf (71.7 kB)

Digital media, power, and democracy in parties and election campaigns: Party decline or party renewal?

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-10-30, 10:57 authored by Andrew ChadwickAndrew Chadwick, Jennifer Stromer-Galley
The role of digital media practices in reshaping political parties and election campaigns is driven by a tension between control and interactivity but the overall outcome for the party organizational form is highly uncertain. Recent evidence contradicts scholarship on the so-called “death” of parties and suggests instead that parties may be going through a long-term process of adaptation to postmaterial political culture. We sketch out a conceptual approach for understanding this process, which we argue is being shaped by interactions between the organizations, norms, and rules of electoral politics; postmaterial attitudes toward political engagement; and the affordances and uses of digital media. Digital media foster cultures of organizational experimentation and a party-as-movement mentality that enable many to reject norms of hierarchical discipline and habitual partisan loyalty. This context readily accommodates populist appeals and angry protest—on the right as well as the left. Substantial publics now see election campaigns as another opportunity for personalized and contentious political expression. As a result, we speculate that parties are being renewed from the outside in as digitally-enabled citizens breathe new life into an old form by (partly) remaking it in their own participatory image. Particularly on the left, the overall outcome might prove more positive for democratic engagement and the decentralization of political power than many have assumed.


The authors received financial support from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and Royal Holloway, University of London’s Department of Politics and International Relations for hosting the workshop that led to the publication of this article.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

The International Journal of Press/Politics






283 - 293


CHADWICK, A. and STROMER-GALLEY, J., 2016. Digital media, power, and democracy in parties and election campaigns: Party decline or party renewal? The International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(3), pp. 283-293.


© The authors. Published by SAGE Journals


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal The International Journal of Press/Politics and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161216646731






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