The German federal election of 2009: The challenge of participatory cultures in political campaigns
Increasingly, political actors have to act in online communication environments. There they meet overlapping networked publics with different levels of participatory cultures and varying expectations of participation in the (re)making and coproduction of political content. This challenges political actors used to a top-down approach to communication. Meanwhile, online users are increasingly politically involved as legislatures all over the world become more active in regulating communication environments online. These new political actors often share participatory practices and have high levels of new media skills. Now they are challenged to adapt these bottom-up participatory cultures to the traditional political environment. This paper examines these adaption processes by examining three examples from the campaign for the German federal election of 2009. These examples include the attempt of Germany's conservative party (CDU) to encourage their supporters to adapt participatory practices, the German Social Democrats' (SPD) top-down production and distribution of online content that mimicked the look and feel of user-generated content, and the bottom-up emergence of political flash mobs.
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