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Rachel K. Gibson, "Party change, social media and the rise of  'citizen-initiated' campaigning" Party Politics, 21 (March 2015), 183-197. [Available at ]

First paragraph:

The arrival of the Internet has provoked considerable debate about its impact on a range of political actors, not the least of which has been political parties. Indeed parties are seen as facing one of the most profound crises in their history in terms of their ability to attract members and provide meaningful cues to voters (Mair, 2006Van Biezen et al., 2009). On the one hand, the Internet is seen as reviving and reconnecting parties with their civic roots by providing the basis for a more democratic mode of organization (Haider and Saglie, 2003; Margetts, 2006). Alternatively, some scholars see it as furthering existing trends toward the micro-management of voters and centralized control by techno-literate elites (Lipow and Seyd, 1996Howard, 2005Wring and Horrocks, 2000). Recent developments in web campaigning in the U.S. in particular have suggested some support for the former hypothesis, with candidates making extensive use of new social media tools (blogs and social network sites) to outsource core campaign tasks (e.g. fundraising, canvassing) to ordinary supporters. This more devolved or ‘citizen-initiated’ approach to campaign organization, as it is termed here, is seen as challenging the professionalized top-down approach that has dominated post-war elections, particularly over the past three decades.

Figures and Table

Table 1: Citizen initiated campaigning by party

Last Paragraph:

Longer term it is expected that the practice of CIC will spread globally, despite its power-devolving implications for parties. Certainly, there has been an increasing trend toward importation of the MyBO sign-up sites observable among parties in a number of major democracies beyond the UK. As parties continue to struggle to recruit members and financial support, CIC is likely to be seen as an increasingly attractive option to restock depleted resources. Whether this uptake will entail a ‘reining in’ of some of its more outsourced elements remains to be seen. This article has marked an attempt to both better understand and define this new practice and empirically benchmark it for future study.

Last updated March 2015