Just before Christmas, the “German Politics” special issue „E-Campaigning in Germany: A Net Revolution?“ was published. The contributions in this issue primarily address the 2009 German Bundestag election and give exciting theoretical and empirical insight into the potential of new media for political communication. The issue also contains an article by Julia Partheymüller and Thorsten Faas:
On November 18, the closing ceremony for our project „Political Communication in Times of New Information and Communication Technology“, which was realized in cooperation with the Bonn Academy of Research and Teaching Practical Politics and YouGov, took place in the Federal State Representation Office of Hamburg in Berlin. Thorsten Faas and Benjamin Sack presented central results of a longitudinal survey, which was carried out in five waves from July 2013 to September 2015.
The so called “filterbubble” attracted special interest. The results show that facebook users and their friends, to a great extent, favor the same political parties. This tendency is even more pronounced for the “Alternative für Deutschland“. Yet, it was not only because of this part of the talk that the hashtag of the event #pksm15 trended on twitter.
The following panel discussion, which was moderated by Christian Krell and in which Alexander Schweitzer, Holger Geißler, Jasmin Siri, and Thorsten Faas participated, centered around the new knowledge on the filterbubble. The idea of social media as a catalyst for political communication was disillusioned. Holger Geißler noted that social media is primarily “social“, not “political”. Alexander Schweitzer confirmed the filterbubble tendency from his own experience: Among his facebook friends the Social Democrats form an absolute majority.
There was also a stream on Periscope, which also attracted interest. The link will soon be published.
From June 11-12, our team of empirical political researchers contributed in numerous ways to this year’s annual conference „Nichtwahl und non-elektorale Formen politischer Partizipation im Spiegel der Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung“ (“Non-Vote and Non-Electoral Ways of Political Participation Reflected by Election and Attitude Research”) organized by the DVPW (German Association of Political Scientists) working group „Wahlen und politische Einstellungen“ (“Elections and Political Attitudes”).
On Thursday, Daniela Hohmann and Thorsten Faas gave a talk on „Ein altes Wahlkampfinstrument im neuen Glanz: Welchen Beitrag können Haustürbesuche zur Mobilisierung von Wählern leisten? Analysen aus einem Feldexperiment im Kontext der Mainzer Kommunalwahl 2014” (“An Old Election Campaign Tool Shining in New Splendor: To Which Extend Can Door-to-Door Visits Mobilize Voters? Analyses from a Field Experiment within the Context of the 2014 Regional Election in Mainz“). Since the last Bundestag election, door-to-door election campaigning has regained public attention. In their analyses, the researchers found out that door-to-door visits have a positive effect on voter mobilization.
In her contribution „Krise oder Normalisierung der Demokratie: Wer will direkte Mitsprache?“ („Crisis or Normalization of Democracy: Who Wants a Direct Say?“), Julia Range asked who supports direct democracy and citizen participation. Her analyses are based on data from the research project Bürgerbeteiligung und direkte Demokratie in Baden-Württemberg („Citizen Participation and Direct Damocracy in Baden-Wuerttemberg). While the politically unsatisfied and less educated support citizen participation, she warned that these people might not actually use the potential of political participation.
On Friday, Christina Eder (GESIS) and Thorsten Faas gave a talk on „Gegen den Bahnhof = für grün-rot? Eine Analyse des Wahl- und Abstimmungsverhaltens in Baden-Württemberg 2011“ („Against the Train Station = in Favor of Green/Red? An Analysis of the voting behavior in Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2011). Eder and Faas traced the lines of conflict concerning the infrastructural project Stuttgart 21 and discussed its impact on the voting behavior of the Citizens of Baden-Württemberg in 2011.
Also, Benjamin Sack focused on Stuttgart 21 in his talk: „Der Effekt direkt-demokratischer Beteiligung auf Demokratiezufriedenheit und politisches Vertrauen“ (“The Effect of Direct Democratic Participation on the Satisfaction with Democracy and Political Trust). He examined the often assumed influence of direct democratic participation on the satisfaction with democracy and political trust. A first evaluation of the data showed that there are short-term effects on the satisfaction with democracy, which decrease in the long run, but that there is no impact on political trust.
This week’s Tuesday, the former president of the Hessian Statistical Office, Eckart Hohmann, was our guest. Within the framework of our Statistics I lecture, he gave a talk on „Die politische Funktion der amtlichen Statistik im Wandel – von der retrospektiven Dokumentation zur Steuerung politischer Interventionen“ (“changes in political function of official statistics – from retrospective documentations to controlling political intervention”).
According to Hohmann, the increased relevance of official statistics, especially with regard to international and supranational institutions, is a new challenge to processes and products of official statistics. Additionally, Hohmann stressed the tension between the political relevance of produced numbers and the necessary independence of official statistics.
The following issue of German Politics will include an article by Julia Partheymüller and Thorsten Faas, which can be downloaded in advance:
Since April 2015, our group of „empirical political science“ edits the working paper series „Mainzer Beiträge zur empirischen Politikforschung (M.BeeP)“ in order to make current results of our research on electoral behavior and attitudes accessible to the public.
With the help of field experimental methods, the first article by Thorsten Faas and Daniela Hohmann examines whether mobilizing measures in local elections, such as door-to-door visits or the distribution of flyers, have a positive effect on the turnout. This and upcoming articles can be found on the M.BeeP website ().
In cooperation with the Bertelsmann foundation, our team of empirical political researchers accompanies the participatory process of the planned transparency law in Rhineland-Palatinate. The aim of our study, which includes several different methods, is to examine whether the process meets the criteria of good citizen participation and to which extent the participatory process has an impact on the citizens’ attitudes towards the planned transparency law, democracy in Rhineland-Palatinate in general and the participatory process itself. Furthermore, public opinion and the “participatory footprint” will be scrutinized.
Further information on our project are available on our project site.
Our new project in cooperation with the Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP) investigates changes of political communication as a consequence of new information technologies. The project examines the impact of social media usage on the attitude and behavior of voters and focuses on the corresponding consequences for political communication in Germany.
Since January 2015, I am a member of Thorsten Faas’ project on “political communication in times of new information and communication technology“. Promoted by the Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik, the project investigates the influence of social media usage on the attitude and behavior of voters and the corresponding consequences for political communication in Germany. Last December, I completed my Master’s degree in “Empirical Democracy Studies” at the University of Mainz, where I also achieved my Bachelor’s degree in “Political Science”. My research interest lies in the fields of political psychology and communication, comparative attitude-, value-, and participation research, and the methods of empirical social science.
In the context of Thorsten Faas’ seminar on organized interests and lobbyism, Professor Thomas Leif, chief reporter at the SWR regional channel in Mainz, was our guest. He presented his documentary “Leif trifft Lobbyisten” (Leif meets Lobbyists). Lobbyism is of special interest as there are two sides of the coin. On the one hand, it is criticized that former politicians shift their careers to companies while, on the other hand, a dialogue between politicians and the affected groups is needed for successful legislation. On this basis, the issue was controversially discussed after the lecture, which was attended by around 60 people. Moreover, Leif also gave some background information on his film.
In their latest publication on political communication in social web, Daniela Hohmann and Thorsten Faas consider the question to which extent voters in the Bundestag election 2013 use facebook as a source of political information. The main focus was laid on the scope, target audience, and usage of facebook. The empirical analysis, which is based on data collected during the election campaign, shows that facebook is used as an information platform by a considerable number of voters. However, the condition remains that the information find the reader rather than the other way around.
You can find the article here (p. 221-230).
During this week’s colloquium, Rob Johns from the University of Essex gave a talk on “Why Scotland voted ‘No’”. On the basis of opinion polls, he elaborated why Scottish independence was defeated on 18 September 2014.
One of the most important reasons, according to Johns, was the fear of the consequences of independence rather than a lack of Scottish national pride. The talk was followed by a lively debate to which Johns added some more details of his findings. It became clear: the idea of an independent Scotland will remain part of public discourse.
In cooperation with the institutes for media studies and media convergence, the team of empirical political research organizes the conference “Internet killed the TV-Star??. Experts from all relevant fields – science, media, and politics – will discuss latest developments and forward compatibility: How does the internet change TV and TV watching habits? How are hybrid TV forms established in law? Which role will big data play for future TV? How will future TV look like?
The conference will take place from 27 to 28 November. Participation is free. If you want to participate, please make a binding commitment: Tagung.Medienkonvergenz@uni-mainz.de.
For more information, take a look at our website: https://www.medienkonvergenz.uni-mainz.de/2014/10/20/internet-killed-the-tv-star/
Thorsten Faas wrote an article for the latest issue of “Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte” (APuZ), which lays its focus on opinion research. The article examines the perception and effect of opinion polls.
Last week, Mainz was the capital of political psychology. In the course of preparation for the PVS Special Issue, edited by Cornelia Frank, Harald Schoen, and Thorsten Faas, more than 20 papers were presented and discussed. Many thanks to all who contributed and especially to the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Freunde der Universität Mainz, and to DVPW, who made the conference possible!
After my graduation from Mainz University, where I studied Sociology (B.A) and Political Science (M.A) from 2009 to 2014, I started to work as a researcher at the Department of Empirical Political Science. Previously, I worked as Prof. Faas’ research assistant. During the project “Volksabstimmung Stuttgart 21”, I examined voters’ attitudes concerning direct democratic elements. In doing so I could elaborate on my research interests, which explicitely lie in political sociology and communication research as well as voters’ behavior.
Edgar Wagner, representative for data protection and freedom of information in Rhineland-Palatine, gave a talk on “data protection in times of Facebook and Snowden” within Thorsten Faas’ “Statistics I” lecture.
Wagner’s task is to ensure data protection concerning the state as well as the private market. In Wagner’s words “even the digital world must be able to forget”. Oblivion, however, is threatened as data increasingly become an important economic issue. Knowing that it is going to be a long way, Wagner promotes a “European way” in the American-dominated internet as suggested by Frank Schirrmacher.
After his talk, Wagner answered the questions of a very interested audience, who for instance wanted to know how studying at JGU could be possible without leaving data traces. Others were interested in the questions of how Wagner and his colleagues sensitize the younger generation for data protection and why firms are willing to pay enormous sums of money for user data.
TV debates following an American format first occurred on German TV in 2002 in the election campaign between Gerhard Schröder and Edmund Stoiber. Since then, TV debates have become an integral part of election campaigns.
In their latest contribution published in the journal “Information. Wissenschaft & Praxis”, Thorsten Faas and Jürgen Maier analyze the question of why TV debates are appreciated by involved politicians, the broadcasting media, the television audience, and the social sciences. Additionally, possible research perspectives in terms of “election campaigns in miniature” are outlined, taking the Bundestag election of 2013 as an example.
Political arguments rarely aim at completely convincing the opponent of an opinion. Instead strategies are much more subtle. Specific aspects, facets or dimensions are pushed to the fore while others are paid very little attention to in order to put the object of discussion in a certain light. The same applies to the Opel rescue in 2009. Nevertheless, the question arises of what the conflict was about. Was it about jobs? Was it about the prevention of another failure such as the Holzmann “rescue” several years ago? Was it about the wasting of tax revenues? All these are possible interpretations of the Opel rescue. Framing research suggests that whoever formulates the dominant interpretation will also dominate the general views on the Opel rescue.
Based on an online experiment, Thorsten Faas and Harald Schoen examine this thesis in their new publication:
In a recently published article in Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen, Jürgen Maier, Thorsten Faas und Michaela Maier analyze the debate on the 2013 Bundestag election. With the help of experimental as well as real-time-response data, they show that especially Steinbrück profited from the debate on TV. Not only could he convince the TV viewers but also could he improve his image. In contrast to this, the viewers’ attitude towards Merkel became worse so that Steinbrück could catch up (a little). It is shown that this effect was still evident a few days after the debate.
For those of you who want to read or analyze the exact wording of the TV debates in the run-up to the Bundestag election (debate between Merkel and Steinbrück; debate between Brüderle, Gysi and Trittin), the following publications might be of interest:
These and other transcriptions of TV debates can be downloaded from the website of the working paper series of the University of Landau.
Four inaugural addresses have taken place in the “Alte Mensa” (Atrium Maximum) on October 24.
At first, Thorsten Faas gave his address on “Den Wählern auf der Spur” (Picking up the Voters’ Trail). Afterwards, Claudia Landwehr gave insights into the “Demokratisches Institutionendesign” (Democratic Institution Design), which was then followed by Arne Niemann’s “Herausforderungen der Europäischen Integration” (Challenges of the European Integration). Last but not least, Kerstin Pohl gave a talk on „Zwischen Wissenschaft und Unterrichtspraxis: Aktuelle Positionen der politischen Bildung“ (Between Science and Teaching Practice: Political Education’s Latest Positions). The program was framed by music in between the talks and a buffet at the end.
Last week, the "Landesrat für digitale Entwicklung und Kultur", which was founded by Rhineland-Palatine’s minister-president Malu Dreyer, was established in Mainz.
The advisory group will discuss social changes, which can be traced back to changing digital processes and will give a fresh impetus for political decision-making. The advisory group consists of fourteen members, amongst them, Thorsten Faas. The meetings will be conducted by Net expert Valentina Kerst.
Please note that our office hours have changed during the semester break. The following office hours will take place:
A call for papers is currently running for the Politische Vierteljahresschrift’s special issue 2015 „Political Psychology“, edited by Thorsten Faas, Cornelia Frank, and Harald Schoen. The closing date for entries is July 31, 2013. Further information on the content of the special issue and the procedure are provided in the call for papers.
Within the context of the Statistic I Lecture, Matthias Stolz and Ole Häntzschel – ZEIT magazine editor and graphic designer (“Deutschlandkarte”) – were our guests this week. Their topic: “Nie wieder Torten: Was Infografiken schön und spannend macht” (“No more pie charts: How to make info graphics attractive and exciting”).
They showed how statistic data and facts could be transformed into creative (and also amusing) info graphics. The examples published in their books and maps of Germany range from playmobil toys over careers of top politicians to arms supply to crisis regions. En passant, they provided us with a glimpse behind the scenes of “data journalism”.
The conclusion (to put it in Mathias Stolz’s words): “Numbers are not that bad” – from time to time they can be fun.
Although most of us from the field of “methods of empirical research” did not move into the new Georg-Forster building, some office numbers have changed. From now on, you can find our staff in the following offices:
|Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas||06-204 (Hegelstraße)|
|Simone Ndongala (Sekretariat)||06-207 (Hegelstraße)|
|Apl.-Prof. Dr. Siegfried Schumann||04-448 (Georg-Forster-Gebäude)|
|Johannes N. Blumenberg, M.A.||06-211 (Hegelstraße)|
|Dipl.-Vw. Julia Hermann||06-212 (Hegelstraße)|
|Daniela Hohmann, M.A.||06-212 (Hegelstraße)|
|Dipl.-Soz.-Wiss. Sven Vollnhals, B.Sc.||06-211 (Hegelstraße)|
From June 11-12, three month before the Bundestag election, the campaign managers of the different parties as well as the heads of the advertizing agencies hired by CDU, SPD, The Greens, FDP, and Pirate Party will present their strategies and concepts for the 2013 electoral campaigning at a conference in Berlin. These presentations will be completed by journalistic and scientific statements and perspectives of which one will be contributed by Thorsten Faas.
The conference’s focus will be put on the latest trends observed in modern electoral campaigning: Which role does social media and last-minute decision making play? Which position is taken by the candidates? And is negative campaigning becoming an increasingly relevant phenomenon?
In order to achieve a large number of audience members, the conference will be broadcasted via live stream. Click here to access the conference’s flyer.
I studied economics with a special focus on social science at the University of Cologne where I specialized in the field of empirical social and economic research. During my studies, I worked as a student assistant at the University of Cologne and GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Science. In my diploma thesis I analysed the electoral behaviour of different groups of swing voters in Germany.
My research interests are methods of empirical social research, political sociology, migration research, and labour market sociology.
On June 4, Matthias Stolz and Ole Häntzschel – ZEIT magazine editor and graphic designer (“Deutschlandkarte”) – are going to be our guests in the Statistik I lecture.
How infographics become appealing and exciting
The way of making infographics a stylistic device with informative and entertaining function
The lecture takes place in Alte Mensa / Audimax at 18.00.
The lecture is open to the public – everyone is welcome to come.
We wish you all a successful start to the summer semester 2013.