The internet has dramatically increased access to political information and perspectives. With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo, individuals can readily share their favorite stories with hundreds of contacts.
The first aim of this course is investigate how the rise of digital media influences the behavior of the key players and candidates, journalists, and voters, as well as the institutional arrangements and political incentives that confront them. We will answer questions such as: How is the internet changing the way we understand our ideologies and politics? How does the way we receive news and information shape our sense of what politics is and what its goals are? How do politicians leverage this new digital media to capture our attention? What does this mean for governing a nation?
The second aim of the course is to leverage the 2018, and upcoming 2020, U.S. election campaigns as a laboratory for testing these theories about the behavior of journalists, candidates, and voters. We will ask: What patterns do we see in the way the social media platforms deliver political news? Does journalistic sensationalism affect political behavior and ideologies? Do algorithms used by social media platforms influence what news we see and read? How do successful candidates leverage Facebook, Twitter, and other media?
We will discuss research about digital media culture, the effects of campaigns on voter behavior, and the long-term consequences of digital politics on civil society.