Call for Paper & Workshop in Manchester 13th October 2023

We are delighted to issue a call for papers for a special issue of Media and Communications (IF 3.043) on the topic: ‘Data-Driven Campaigning in a Comparative Context: Toward a 4th Era of Political Communication?’

As part of this special issue, we are convening a workshop at the University of Manchester on Friday 13th October. The workshop will involve a talk and dinner on the evening of Thursday 12th followed by a day-long workshop on Friday 13th   between 9am-17pm. There will be an opportunity for remote presentations/ participation online. 

Please find the call for papers below. If you would like to participate in the workshop then please email a short 250 word abstract to Dr Andrew Barclay ( by July 1st 2023. We have some funds available to assist with the cost of travel and accommodation (depending on the number of participants). Please let us know when submitting your abstract if you will require financial support to attend.

Call for papers

The 2012 US Presidential campaign of Barack Obama was seen as a launch point for a new model of electioneering, one that was driven by scientific modelling, big data, and computational analytics. Since then reports of the spread and power of data-driven campaigning (DDC) have escalated, with the victory of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote commonly attributed to the use of these new techniques. Contrasting accounts, however, have emerged that challenge this narrative in several key ways. Notably, questions have been raised about what is the extent of adopting DDC among political parties, particularly outside of the US. How new is it in historical terms? And how effective is it in actually reaching the target audience and delivering the behavioural change required?

This thematic issue will set out and investigate the key debates surrounding the growth of DDC from comparative and historical perspectives. Specifically, we will highlight a series of core questions that the current literature has both raised and is seeking to resolve. Namely:

  1. How widespread is DDC adoption across national party systems, and relatedly, does it look the same across different contexts? Is there a one size fits all version or is it adapted to local conditions, and if so, in what way?
  2. How disruptive is DDC to modern campaigning? Does it represent a new fourth era of “scientific” and/or “subversive” approaches to voter mobilization? Or is it a more “modernizing” force that simply intensifies ongoing trends of professionalization?
  3. Does DDC actually work? How far are the claims for precision in targeting and attitudinal and behavioural change supported by the evidence “on the ground”?
  4. What is to be done? To what extent does DDC warrant scrutiny from governments and closer regulation?

We invite original submissions from authors that address these questions from theoretical and empirical perspectives and from differing disciplinary backgrounds. In addition to political scientists, we encourage scholars from related disciplinary fields such as psychology, law, business and marketing, and data science to contribute. Methodologically, we welcome both qualitative and quantitative approaches to the topic. We are particularly interested to receive papers that advance new methodological approaches to address these questions e.g., studies linking surveys and other forms of observational digital and trace data, social media network analysis, and machine learning techniques for visual analysis.

The timetable for inclusion in the special issue is as follows:

Submission of Abstracts:  1-15 December 2023
Submission of Full Papers:  15-30 April 2024
Publication of the Issue:  October/December 2024

Further information about the special issue can be found here: