We investigate the social effects of digitization in various areas. In doing so, we focus on the use of digital technologies, dealing with associated opportunities and risks as well as the effects on structures and individuals. Our research focuses on the following areas:

Computational Social Science

Computational Social Science (CSS) uses computer-aided methods to study human behavior and social systems. The close interdisciplinary cooperation between social sciences, computer science and natural sciences is characteristic of CSS. Our goal is to gain insights into new phenomena triggered by digitization and to open new perspectives on classical research interests in the social sciences. Computational Social Science

In our research, we investigate what kind of questions can be investigated in social science using digital trace data collected on digital services such as Twitter or Reddit. Among other things, we deal with the following questions:

Our goal is to contribute to the increased use of computer-aided and data-intensive methods in social science to investigate important social and political processes and to test social science theories. Computational Social Science offers great opportunities for the social sciences. However, there is a need for a broader, critical dialogue about where the possibilities of specific methods and data sets lie and where their limits are reached. This is the only way we can fully realize these opportunities.

Political communication and election campaigns

We also deal with the role of digital media in politics and political communication. We investigate how political actors and organizations use digital media to disseminate information, stimulate discussion and mobilize citizens. We also explore the impact of these changes on the political landscape and democratic processes. Retooling Politics: How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

We examine the use of digital media by political parties and activists.  In our work, we have examined and answered various questions, including:

We also examine the use of digital media by citizens for political exchange and political participation. Our research focuses on the following questions:

Another focus of our research is the investigation of the impact of information and persuasion campaigns. We examined the following questions:

To answer these questions, we use a variety of methods, including experiments and surveys. We want to contribute to developing a better understanding of how we can improve political communication and strengthen democratic practices.

Public arena

Important topics are discussed and negotiated in the public arena. Digital media create new structures hosting the public arena while weakening others, such as traditional mass media. At the same time, they change information flows, the form and tone of discussion, and influence the success of selected actors. We investigate this new digitally transformed public arena. Digital Transformations of the Public Arena (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Digital media have changed the flow of information in the public arena. While traditional mass media continue to play an important role in disseminating information, they have lost influence. Whereas in the past they could decide on their own which information or which actors gained access to a broad public, today they compete with new digital media. These provide a stage for actors who have so far been excluded from traditional news media. This development can have positive effects on the public and democracy by making unjustly excluded voices heard. At the same time, however, they can also have negative effects by giving actors who seek division, doubt and uncertainty, and exclusion of others from political discourse access to the public.

We discuss the tensions that arise in the digital public arena, examining several questions, such as:

Digital media open new opportunities for people to exchange ideas about politics. Social networking sites, microblogging services, and forums provide a platform for sharing information, discussing political issues, and commenting on current events. We explore the nature and form of these digital interactions in different media and platforms to better understand how they influence political discourse and public opinion-formation:

Artificial intelligence (AI) has attracted a lot of attention recently due to its economic, social, and political impact. However, discussions about their influence are often dominated by unfocused fears. We investigate how the use of AI affects democracy and the public arena and present pragmatic and empirically sound explanations.

The work of the chair regularly appears in leading international peer-reviewed journals, for example The International Journal of Press/Politics, Journal of Communication, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Party Politics, Political Communication, Review of International Political Economy, Social Media + Society, and Social Science Computer Review.

Our research is highly interdisciplinary and internationally oriented. The chair is connected by active working relationships with colleagues from the fields of communication science, computational social science, computer science, and sociology.

In Computational Social Science and Computational Communication Science, we collaborate with Pascal Jürgens (University of Trier), Adrian Rauchfleisch (National Taiwan University,) and Gonzalo Rivero (Pew Research Center).

In computer science, we work together with Jisun An (Indiana University Bloomington), Daniel Gayo-Avello (University of  Oviedo), Oliver Posegga (University of  Bamberg) and Johannes Schöning (University of St.Gallen). In sociology, Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute) is one of our partners.