Digital Campaigning in France, a Wide Wild Web?: Emergence and Evolution of the Market and Its Players

Digital Campaigning in France, a Wide Wild Web?: Emergence and Evolution of the Market and Its Players

Thomas Ehrhard (Université Paris II Panthéon Assas, France), Antoine Bambade (Ecole Polytechnique, France) and Samuel Colin (Ecole Polytechnique, France)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0377-5.ch007

Abstract

In spite of the extensive media coverage of election technologies, the market and its players remain largely unknown. Who are they? What do they do? What are their strategies? This chapter leverages new empirical data to answer these questions, drawing in particular from a series of interviews with providers of political technology in France. We show that the sector is heterogeneous and that its boundaries are fluid, including actors who provide wildly different services and initially embraced different economic and technological strategies. We also show that the nature of the services provided as well as the partisan dimension of each company depends on its target customers. However, due to economic constraints, the sector is undergoing a radical restructuring. The laborious implementation of “elections 2.0” in France is continuing with an increasing professionalization of its players, leading the sector to become more homogeneous and internationalized.
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The Actors In The Digital Campaigning Literature

A lot of research in political science and political communication has focused on digital campaigning through different dimensions, such as door-to-door campaigning (Lefebvre, 2016; Bhatti et al., 2016; Théviot, 2016a), political engagement and participation (Koc-Michalska, Gibson, Vedel, 2014; Koc-Michalska, Lilleker, 2017) or the influence of digital tools on election campaigns (Jungherr, 2016). Emerging technologies offer new and less costly campaigning opportunities facilitated by digitization (Stromer-Gallery, 2014) and data collection (Nickerson, Rogers, 2014). Online communication has become the norm during election campaigns (Kok-Michalska et al., 2016) but in different ways depending on the country (Lilleker, 2016). Technology companies are shaping political communication in which social media have taken a prominent role (Kreiss, McGregor, 2017), which is also the case in Europe (Lilleker et al., 2017). Nevertheless, according to some observers, not all these changes are as pronounced as they are claimed to be (Kreiss, 2011). For example, a case study in Portugal shows that digital campaigning has reinforced previous trends in political communication, more than it has been a revolution or a radical disruption (Novais, Alvaro, 2014).

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