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27 September 2023

Project to examine impact of digital campaigning on democracy

An innovative new project led by researchers at King’s College London will assess for the first time how the rise of digital advocacy has impacted democracy across the world.

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Led by Professor Anne Rasmussen, the project will study the use, impact and consequences of digital advocacy on policymakers and citizens, shedding light on the challenges faced by modern democracies as digital tools become central to political campaigning and activism.

The project, Advocacy in Digital Democracy: Use, Impact and Democratic Consequences, has been supported with a grant of £1.75million from the European Research Council and will run until 2026.

Prof Rasmussen, from the Department of Political Economy, said: “Digital technology has fundamentally changed political campaigning and advocacy in the last decade. Despite its fundamental role in contemporary political strategy and potential to affect the quality of democracy, there is still little evidence to assess and compare the real effects of online and offline advocacy tools.

“This project will implement the first large-scale quantitative project designed to provide rich correlational and causal evidence on the effects of advocacy on citizens and policymakers, in both online and offline settings.

“It sets out to address the potentials and challenges for modern democracies that arise from digital advocacy tools.”

The project will study the interactions of advocacy groups with both citizens and political representatives in eight countries - Australia, Chile, Denmark, India, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US – and examine how political and public agendas converge and evolve over time.

Field experiments in co-operation with advocates in several countries will also provide evidence on how advocacy affects the positions and actions of policymakers and citizens.

This project will greatly advance understanding of how modern advocacy impacts its target audiences and potentially changes participatory democracy. Its findings will have interdisciplinary and social relevance and inform ways to strengthen representative democracy in an online age.

Prof Anne Rasmussen

The project will consist of a team of post docs, research assistants and collaborators, including research associate Marta Antonetti, Allison Koh (Hertie School, Berlin) and Elise Antoine (London School of Economics).


Find out more about the project here.

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Anne Rasmussen

Professor of Political Science