The Internet and especially social media platforms have become a central arena for political election campaigning. More and more people are using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post and comment on, interact around, or research public reactions to politics. For political parties, social media platforms offer new opportunities to reach specific groups of citizens with both organic and paid campaigning messages. Online campaigning also affects dynamics and strategies of party competition, altering for example the role of candidates in campaign and how and to whom parties address specific policy-issues. However, traditional forms of campaigning are still central elements of party campaigns and in how far the dynamics, strategies and effects of online campaigns differ from traditional forms of campaigning is highly debated.

This course offers theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives on political campaigning in the digital age with a focus on the German case. We start with a discussion of the institutional context and campaigning regulations, followed by a theoretical bloc covering different perspectives on party competition. On this basis, we discuss different forms of offline and online campaigning, how parties use them in Germany and the effects they (potentially) have. Throughout the sessions on different forms of online campaigning, the course provides insights into methods of data collection and analysis of social media data.