Sebastian Stier

Sebastian Stier
GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences · Department Computational Social Science

Dr. rer. pol.

About

64
Publications
16,550
Reads
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980
Citations

Publications

Publications (64)
Article
Full-text available
Although considerable research has concentrated on online campaigning, it is still unclear how politicians use different social media platforms in political communication. Focusing on the German federal election campaign 2013, this article investigates whether election candidates address the topics most important to the mass audience and to which e...
Article
Full-text available
While survey research has been at the heart of social science for decades and social scientific research with digital trace data has been growing rapidly in the last few years, until now, there are relatively few studies that combine these two data types. This may be surprising given the potential of linking surveys and digital trace data, but at t...
Article
Full-text available
Research has prominently assumed that social media and web portals that aggregate news restrict the diversity of content that users are exposed to by tailoring news diets toward the users’ preferences. In our empirical test of this argument, we apply a random-effects within–between model to two large representative datasets of individual web browsi...
Article
How transnational are European Parliament (EP) campaigns? Building on research on the European public sphere and the politicisation of the EU, this study investigates to what extent the 2019 EP campaign was transnational and which factors were associated with ‘going transnational’. It conceptualises Twitter linkages of EP candidates as constitutive...
Article
Full-text available
Online intermediaries such as social network sites or search engines are playing an increasingly central role in democracy by acting as mediators between information producers and citizens. Academic and public commentators have raised persistent concerns that algorithmic recommender systems would negatively affect the provision of political informa...
Article
This article tests the assumption that candidates’ attack behavior is a result of their rational consideration of potential benefits and likely risks. Based on candidate surveys from three German state elections, we demonstrate that (i) attacks are an important strategy; (ii) on balance, candidates regard attacking opponents as a costly instead of...
Article
Full-text available
Online political astroturfing—hidden information campaigns in which a political actor mimics genuine citizen behavior by incentivizing agents to spread information online—has become prevalent on social media. Such inauthentic information campaigns threaten to undermine the Internet’s promise to more equitable participation in public debates. We arg...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract: How is political news shared online? This fundamental question for political communication research in today's news ecology is still poorly understood. In particular, very little is known how explaining news sharing differs from explaining news viewing. Based on a unique dataset of approximately 870,000$ URLs shared approximately 100 mil...
Article
Members of parliament (MPs) are elected via two different tiers in mixed‐member electoral systems—as winners of a seat in a constituency or as party candidates under proportional rules. While previous research has identified important consequences of this “mandate divide” in parliaments, questions remain how this institutional setup affects MPs' po...
Preprint
How transnational are European Parliament (EP) campaigns? Building on research on the Euro-pean public sphere and the politicisation of the EU, this study investigates to what extent the 2019 EP campaign was transnational and which factors were associated with ‘going transna-tional’. It conceptualises Twitter linkages of EP candidates as constituti...
Article
Full-text available
The Spitzenkandidaten were meant to personalize European Parliament elections. This paper asks whether and through which channels the lead candidates were actually able to make themselves known among voters – a necessary precondition for any electoral effect. Combining panel surveys and online tracking data, the study explores candidate learning du...
Chapter
Soziale Medien haben in den vergangenen Jahren erheblich an Einfluss in der politischen Kommunikation gewonnen. Deshalb wenden sich auch Politiker in Deutschland Plattformen wie Facebook und Twitter zu, um Wähler zu erreichen. Die akademischen Studien zum deutschen Fall beschränken sich allerdings bis auf wenige Ausnahmen auf die Online-Aktivitäten...
Article
This study examines the growing journalistic practice of embedding full tweets in online political news coverage. Against the background of a hybrid media system, we pursue three research goals. First, we evaluate the scope of the Twitter-in-the-news phenomenon relative to news coverage as a whole. Second, we examine the functions of embedded tweet...
Article
Full-text available
Research on news exposure has shown that while political knowledge and interest largely determine the degree of active engagement with online news, some people are generally less willing to invest into actively staying informed. Instead, these people report to pursue a passive mode of relying on specific sources, such as social media, based on the...
Article
European elections have been described as second-order phenomena for voters, the media, but also parties. Yet, since 2009, there exists evidence that not only voters, but also political parties assign increasing significance to European elections. While initially ‘issue entrepreneurs’ were held responsible for this development, the latest campaigns...
Preprint
Full-text available
The role of information exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic seems ambiguous, as gains in knowledge from public information campaigns stand against fears of widespread misinformation, especially via social media. Using data from a large survey collected during the first COVID-19 wave in March 2020 as well as data from Facebook, this paper investig...
Preprint
Full-text available
Combining surveys and digital trace data can enhance the analytic potential of both data types. We present two studies on factors influencing data sharing behavior for different types of digital trace data: Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and health app data. Across those data types, we compare the relative impact of five factors on data sharing: data...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research by Taneja et al. suggested that digital infrastructures diminish the generational gap in news use by counteracting preference structures. We expand on this seminal work by arguing that an infrastructural perspective requires overcoming limitations of highly aggregated web tracking data used in prior research. We analyze the individu...
Article
Climate change and populism are two major phenomena in contemporary politics. Recent successes of populist parties and politicians, especially in Europe and in the US, have given rise to extensive debates in the academic literature and beyond. Yet the link between populism and climate change scepticism (henceforth ‘scepticism’), has so far received...
Article
Full-text available
Research has shown that citizens with populist attitudes evaluate the news media more negatively, and there is also suggestive evidence that they rely less on established news sources like the legacy press. However, due to data limitations, there is still no solid evidence whether populist citizens have skewed news diets in the contemporary high-ch...
Chapter
Full-text available
Die Bedeutung der Digitalisierung für Politik und Gesellschaft ist ein hoch aktuelles Themenfeld, das immer stärker auch politikwissenschaftlich beforscht und gelehrt wird. Die Beiträge des Bandes versammeln dazu programmatische Positionen, welche zentrale Aspekte und Perspektiven der sozialwissenschaftlichen Digitalisierungsforschung darstellen un...
Article
Full-text available
Political astroturfing, a centrally coordinated disinformation campaign in which participants pretend to be ordinary citizens acting independently, has the potential to influence electoral outcomes and other forms of political behavior. Yet, it is hard to evaluate the scope and effectiveness of political astroturfing without “ground truth” informat...
Preprint
Inwiefern digitale Medien politische Prozesse beeinflussen ist eine intensiv diskutierte Frage inner- und außerhalb der Politikwissenschaft. Besondere Prominenz in dieser Debatte hat dabei die Hypothese sogenannter „Echokammern“ gewonnen, wonach digitale Medien ihre Nutzer darin bestärken, insbesondere solche Nachrichten zu beziehen, deren politisc...
Article
Full-text available
Inwiefern digitale Medien politische Prozesse beeinflussen ist eine intensiv diskutierte Frage inner- und außerhalb der Politikwissenschaft. Besondere Prominenz in dieser Debatte hat dabei die Hypothese sogenannter „Echokammern“ gewonnen, wonach digitale Medien ihre Nutzer darin bestärken, insbesondere solche Nachrichten zu beziehen, deren politisc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Political astroturfing, a centrally coordinated disinformation campaign in which participants pretend to be ordinary citizens acting independently, has the potential to influence electoral outcomes and other forms of political behavior. Yet, it is hard to evaluate the scope and effectiveness of political astroturfing without "ground truth" informat...
Article
Full-text available
There has been a recent surge of political actors and groups challenging the legitimacy of established political institutions and mass media. We argue that this wave is no accident; rather, it is driven by digital media. Digital media allow outside challengers to route around social institutions that structure political discourse, such as parties a...
Chapter
This chapter presents a multi-method discourse analytical approach to analyse Twitter communication on two political issues of global concern: environmental policy/climate change and internet governance/net neutrality. Their corpus is compiled from Twitter messages containing #NetNeutrality or #ClimateChange which the authors gathered between Janua...
Chapter
How are e-government and Internet policy organised and developed in different countries? This comprehensively revised volume answers this question and addresses the latest developments within the amended framework of digitalisation, such as cybersecurity, data protection, open government and e-democracy, among others. With contributions by Ana Azur...
Article
Full-text available
It is a considerable task to collect digital trace data at a large scale and at the same time adhere to established academic standards. In the context of political communication, important challenges are (1) defining the social media accounts and posts relevant to the campaign (content validity), (2) operationalizing the venues where relevant socia...
Preprint
It is a considerable task to collect digital trace data at a large scale and at the same time adhere to established academic standards. In the context of political communication, important challenges are (1) defining the social media accounts and posts relevant to the campaign (content validity), (2) operationalizing the venues where relevant socia...
Preprint
Previous research has acknowledged the use of social media in political communication by right-wing populist parties and politicians. Less is known, however, about its pivotal role for right-wing social movements which rely on personalized messages to mobilize supporters and challenge the mainstream party system. This paper analyzes online politica...
Preprint
Although considerable research has concentrated on online campaigning, it is still unclear how politicians use different social media platforms in political communication. Focusing on the German federal election campaign 2013, this article investigates whether election candidates address the topics most important to the mass audience and to which e...
Article
There is an ongoing academic debate whether social media empowers activists and advocacy groups in relation to established political actors and media gatekeepers. This article investigates these premises by analysing the influence of various actors in two policy debates on Twitter, environmental policy (climate change) and Internet governance (net...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has acknowledged the use of social media in political communication by right-wing populist parties and politicians. Less is known, however, about its pivotal role for right-wing social movements which rely on personalized messages to mobilize supporters and challenge the mainstream party system. This paper analyzes online politica...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This project investigates political astroturfing, i.e. hidden propaganda by powerful political actors aimed at mimicking grassroots activity, on social media. We focus on Twitter accounts used by the South Korean secret service to influence the 2012 presidential elections in favor of the eventual winner, Park Geun-hye. Two independent cluster analy...
Chapter
Die zivilgesellschaftliche Nutzung des Webs ist der Teilbereich der Arbeit, dem in der Autokratieforschung die größte Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt wurde. Viele Studien der zivilgesellschaftlichen Nutzung des Internets basieren auf der Prämisse, dass diese, zumindest in Autokratien, automatisch in Opposition zur Regierung stehe (Diamond 2010; Howard/Hus...
Chapter
Das Zitat von Robert Hannigan, dem Chef des britischen Geheimdienstes GCHQ, das er mit der Forderung verknüpfte, dass die großen Internetfirmen verstärkt mit Geheimdiensten und Sicherheitsbehörden zusammenarbeiten sollten, verdeutlicht die zentrale Argumentationslinie von Regierungen, wenn es darum geht, Informationen und Kommunikation im Web zu üb...
Chapter
Technologische Innovationen stellen für die Politik exogene Herausforderungen dar, sie können zugleich aber im Sinne politischer Ziele endogenisiert werden. Ein politisches System muss eine hohe Elastizität und politisches Anpassungsvermögen demonstrieren, um Innovations- und Modernisierungsprozesse bewältigen zu können (Schmidt 2010b: 209, 519). W...
Chapter
Die Arbeit ist als komparative ländervergleichende Studie angelegt. Die vergleichende Methode ist zur Aufdeckung kausaler Effekte, d.h. Ursache-Wirkungs-Beziehungen zwischen Einflussfaktoren insbesondere geeignet (Nohlen 2010: 1153). Das Erkenntnissinteresse gilt demnach den Variablen, weniger den Fällen.
Chapter
Sämtliche Prozesse, die in der empirischen Analyse in den Blick genommen werden, unterliegen der Konstitution des Kommunikationsraumes Internet. Das folgende Kapitel gilt der Frage, ob es systematische Unterschiede zwischen Autokratien und Demokratien in der Bereitstellung digitaler Infrastrukturen und ihrer Nutzung durch die Bürger gibt. Der Regim...
Chapter
In den vergangenen Jahren entfaltete sich eine rege wissenschaftliche und öffentliche Debatte zum Verhältnis zwischen Politik und Internet. Dem Internet wurde einerseits das Potential zugeschrieben, autoritäre Herrscher stürzen zu können. Andererseits wurde angenommen, dass es die autoritäre Herrschaft stütze.
Chapter
Als erste Dimension politischer Online-Kommunikation werden die nationalen E-Government-Programme betrachtet, die ein integraler Bestandteil der digitalen Regierungsmodernisierung sind. E-Government bezeichnet die Nutzung von Internetanwendungen durch Regierungen, die der Bereitstellung von öffentlich finanzierten Diensten an Bürger, wirtschaftlich...
Chapter
Die Untersuchung des politischen Wettbewerbs in Online-Wahlkämpfen kann an einen ausgebauten Forschungsstand anknüpfen. Trotz der methodischen Schwierigkeiten ist die komparative Analyse des E-Campaigning schon früh ein Kernanliegen der Kommunikationsforschung gewesen. Diese Literatur ist eingebettet in die breitere theoretische Debatte um die Mode...
Article
Full-text available
It is often assumed that the Internet would threaten the survival of authoritarian regimes. Accordingly, most country-comparative studies have identified a democracy advantage in Internet diffusion. This paper revisits these technology-centric assumptions by conceptualizing the adoption of the Internet as a dynamic phenomenon with multiple phases t...
Chapter
Sebastian Stier führt bislang isolierte Literaturen der politik- und kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Internetforschung zusammen und untersucht empirisch, inwiefern Autokratien in ihrer Netzpolitik und politischen Online-Kommunikation von Demokratien abweichen. Der Autor zeigt in einem makro-quantitativen Ländervergleich, dass es autokratischen Her...
Book
Sebastian Stier führt bislang isolierte Literaturen der politik- und kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Internetforschung zusammen und untersucht empirisch, inwiefern Autokratien in ihrer Netzpolitik und politischen Online-Kommunikation von Demokratien abweichen. Der Autor zeigt in einem makro-quantitativen Ländervergleich, dass es autokratischen Her...
Article
Full-text available
Zusammenfassung In das Internet werden regelmäßig Hoffnungen hinsichtlich einer Transnationalisierung und Demokratisierung politischer Öffentlichkeiten gesetzt. Der vorliegende Beitrag diskutiert diese politiktheoretischen Annahmen und überprüft die Erwartungen anhand einer empirischen Analyse der Twitter-Kommunikation zu den Politikfeldern Netzpol...
Conference Paper
This article analyzes political communication by partisan elites on Twitter. Based on framing theory, it investigates whether tweets on U.S. political debates by Democratic and Republican party actors diverge with regard to their semantics. Applying computational text analysis to the most discussed political topics in 2015, the paper identifies top...
Article
Full-text available
The internet has been seen as a medium that empowers individual political actors in relation to established political elites and media gatekeepers. The present article discusses this “net empowerment hypothesis” and tests it empirically by analysing Twitter communication on the regulation of net neutrality. We extracted 503.839 tweets containing #N...
Chapter
Full-text available
Die Online-Kommunikation hat sich beiderseits des Atlantiks als fester Bestandteil politischer Kampagnen etabliert. Besonders in den innovationsfreundlichen US-Wahlkämpfen nimmt das E-Campaigning eine integrale Funktionslogik ein. Ursächlich hierfür sind günstige strukturelle Kontextbedingungen, die im komparativen Untersuchungsdesign mit Deutschla...
Article
Full-text available
While the literature analyzing the cross-national determinants of e-government performance reports robust results for structural variables, the level of agreement regarding political factors remains low. Deriving theories from comparative political science, this article hypothesizes how regime type and government capacity determine global variation...
Article
Mass media is critical for the functioning of every contemporary political system. Thus, we can expect a variation in media freedom depending on the type of government since political regimes differ with regard to the political, legal and economic framework in which news coverage operates. This article investigates the effects of regime types, name...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
with Dr. Sebastian Stier (GESIS) and Prof. Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute) Digital media are the most important way in which populism is promoted as they allow populist politicians, parties, and movements to bypass the mainstream media which they perceive as biased against them. It remains unclear, however, how widespread and impactful populist concerns are among online audiences or the general public. In the project, digital traces are used to (1) map what 'the people' want, (2) analyze whether and why they want similar or different things across Europe and the U.S., and (3) investigate the effects of exposure to online populist grievances on (offline) political outcomes. In providing answers to these questions, the project aims at improving the understanding of the societal (macro) and the social-psychological (micro) processes behind the rise of populism. It is guided by the hypothesis that online populist grievances, i.e., the communication of and exposure to populist complaints, may constitute both a challenge and a corrective for representative democracies and need to be examined in all their complexity. The project focuses on countries with varying vote shares for left- or right-wing populist parties and where populists form part of the government (Italy, Poland and the U.S.), constitute a middle-sized block in parliament (Germany and Sweden), are not represented in parliament (the UK), or form a strong opposition (France and Spain). The research period starts in October 2018 and features at least one election in all countries, including the European Parliament election. The project relies on existing data to account for the context of populism (political, economic, cultural, media systems) and generates novel data to assess the societal embeddedness of populism.