A multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the Internet.

Digital Politics and Government

The Internet has transformed political behaviour, from voting and campaigning for policy change, to protest and even revolution. This poses a challenge to states, as political movements become more turbulent, unpredictable, and societies harder to govern. To understand this radically transformed political world, we are re-examining the models and conceptual frameworks of political science and theory, and developing social data science methodologies to understand political behaviour.

People: Helen Margetts, Phil HowardVicki NashJonathan Bright, Scott HaleTaha Yasseri

Research

Governments are increasingly reliant on complex networks of information systems, but often lag behind citizens when it comes to innovating with the Internet and social media, and developing applications to tackle policy problems. At the same time, ICTs offer new possibilities for more effective and citizen-focused service delivery and policy innovation that is cheaper and more granular. We’re working with policy makers to develop new governance models and innovations like crowdsourcing, feedback systems, and experimental methodologies to co-produce public policy and services. Below are some examples of projects in this area.

  • Political Bots

    Investigating the impact of automated scripts (computational propaganda) on public life.

  • Political knowledge and the Web

    We are exploring the effects of online-based news consumption on political knowledge.

  • Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action

    Why do most attempts at collective action online fail, while some give rise to huge mobilizations—even revolutions?

  • Elections and the Internet

    What did social media activity during #GE2015 tell us about contemporary elections, voting behaviour and political preferences?

Selected Publications

The below are a few publications in this area: for complete lists of outputs, please refer to individual faculty biographies.

  • Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action

    Why do most attempts at collective action online fail, while some give rise to huge mobilizations—even revolutions?

  • Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

  • Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring

  • Digital Era Governance: IT Corporations, the State, and e-Government

Teaching

In the digital era, political institutions, activities and relationships are increasingly mediated and shaped by the technologies of information and communication. Our MSc paper in Digital Era Government and Politics examines the impact of the Internet and related technologies on the core activities and institutions of government and politics and considers whether the developing use of these technologies serves to reinforce, undermine or otherwise alter traditional political models or patterns of behaviour.

The course aims to equip students with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary to identify, evaluate and critique these various positions and debates. It will enable students to investigate the implications of the Internet and related technologies for political participation and government, reviewing available evidence and new methodological approaches to the study of politics in the digital-era. The course thereby provides students with the toolkit of concepts, theories, methods and principles to carry out ‘e-literate’ analysis of politics and policy and to conduct further postgraduate research in this field.

  • Digital Era Government and Politics

    Providing students with an in-depth understanding of the changing nature of digital-era governance and politics.

  • Oxford Extremism Research Network (OxERN)

    The Oxford Extremism Research Network is funded by the ESRC through Oxford's Doctoral Training in Social Science programme.

  • Helping produce the Global Open Data Index

    OII alumna Mor Rubinstein discusses her role as community and research coordinator for the Global Open Data Index at Open Knowledge.

Our research is organised in eight broad themes, where the Internet is having a significant effect on social, economic and political activity worldwide.

  • Digital Economies
  • Digital Knowledge and Culture
  • Digital Politics and Government
  • Education, Digital Life and Wellbeing
  • Ethics and Philosophy of Information
  • Information Geography and Inequality
  • Information Governance and Security
  • Social Data Science