Course catalogue

Name215E19 Times they are Changing: How Modern Parties Campaign for Votes
Language Engelsk
Course levelKandidat
Department Institut for Statskundskab
Related educations
Course code431192U020
TeacherLisa Hirsch
Course type Tomplads Ordinær Udveksling
FacultyAarhus BSS
Course catalogue id94330

Description of qualifications:

<p>Some decades ago, politics seemed to be simpler: The choice which party to vote for was determined by occupational background, class and feelings of partisan attachment passed on through generations. According to Downs&#8217; theory of proximal voting, voters and parties are placed along a single policy dimension (which is often referred to as the left-right dimension) &#8211; resulting in voters voting for the party which is closest to their own ideal point.</p> <p>This albeit idyllic past has changed and so did the circumstances surrounding parties: The decline of class-based voting and increased social and geographical mobility has proved to be a challenge to parties and voters alike. The formerly unidimensional policy space of left and right is now often described as multi-dimensional. Niche parties are adding to the number of parties voters can choose from and other parties have to run against or cooperate with. Due to technological developments like television and the internet, voters have constant access to information, and parties might find themselves in a state of a never-ending campaign. Recently, social-media platforms have added yet another layer of complexity to campaigns.</p> <p>Where do these developments leave parties? How are parties coping with a changed playing field? These are the central questions addressed in this course. We will discuss which strategies parties employ to attract votes under changed circumstances, and focus on three strategies. One strategy is the focus on individual candidates, often described as personalisation. This implies that individual candidates become more important, at the expense of the party&#8217;s importance.</p> <p>Two remaining strategies reflect that parties can tailor what they talk about and how they talk: Issue-based campaigning, by which parties can adapt what they talk about and selectively address issues they enjoy a certain competence in, has been shown to be increasingly important across Western European democracies.</p> <p>Another strategy that parties and candidates can use is how they talk during their campaign. They often not only broadcast their ideas and strengths, but attack their opponents and discredit them &#8211; by highlighting failures of political and personal nature. We will discuss definitions of negative campaigning, how widespread it is, who is affected by it and what consequences it has for democracy.</p> <p>Practical sessions will deal with campaigns conducted for both the Danish general election and the EP election. We will focus on social-media data and textual data and explore what type of questions can be answered by it. What type of behaviour that we would expect from departing from the theories discussed before can we actually see in those campaigns?</p> In the seminar we rely on a mixture of small lectures, group work, class discussions and small presentations by students. Students are expected to read the material for each week&#8217;s session in advance and prepare reaction papers for some sessions. The seminar is relevant to students who are interested in political parties, campaigns and political communication. Methods knowledge on the level of Methods 2 and familiarity with statistical software (STATA or R) is strongly recommended. The seminar contributes to the development of competencies in terms of understanding parties and campaigns in parliamentary democracies and applying social science methods.


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