Politicians online – Identifying current research opportunities
For more than a decade, researchers have shown interest in how politicians make use of the Internet for a variety of purposes. Based on critical assessments of previous online political communication scholarship, this paper identifies a series of overlooked areas of research that should be of interest for researchers concerned with how politicians make use of online technologies. Specifically, three such research opportunities are introduced. First, we suggest that research should attempt to move beyond dichotomization, such as conceiving of the Internet as either bringing about revolutionary changes or having a normalizing effect. Second, while there is a considerable body of knowledge regarding the activity of politicians during election campaigns, relatively little is known about the day–to–day communicative uses of the Internet at the hands of politicians. The third section argues that as political communication research has typically focused on national or international levels of study, scholars within the field should also make efforts to contribute to our knowledge of online practices at the hands of politicians at regional and local levels — something we label as studies at the micro level. In synthesizing the literature available regarding the use of the Internet at the hands of politicians, the paper concludes suggesting routes ahead for interested scholars.
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