The Political Communication Research Unit currently works on the following projects:
Candidate and party communication and voter engagement
In this project Stéphanie De Munter (PhD candidate) explores political party and candidate communication and their use of social media on one side, and the link to citizen and voter engagement on the other side. The paper ‘To tweet or not to tweet: Analyzing social media behavior of Belgian politicians in the 2014 elections’ (accepted for publication) presents an effect study of the Twitter use on preferential votes. Subsequently, this project will focus on establishing what type of Instagram posts from political parties and candidates triggers the most engagement.
Mobilizing the Globe in Pursuit of a False Caliphate: A Case Study of Daesh
This interdisciplinary project aims to examine how Daesh has managed its propaganda campaign resulting in recruitment of more than 42.000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 120 countries between 2011 and 2016. This figure includes more than 5.000 Europeans officially. In this regard, the project aims to examine Daesh propaganda across three lines of operations:
- Traditional media through content and metaphor analyses,
- Social media through content and network analyses, and
- Ideology based on outputs of the first two steps and comparative study of main texts building salafi-jihadist ideology and implementations on the ground differentiating Daesh from its likes.
Impression management and personalities of political leaders
The project aims to examine the references to personality by politicians (personality branding) as a part of political campaigning. Previous studies of personality and impression management in politics have largely focused on North American and European liberal democracies. By contrast, the main emphasis in this project lies on the personality branding in a distinct political environment, namely the hybrid political regime of the Russian Federation. An additional objective of this research is to explore voters’ expectations of political leaders in Russian Federation and situate the findings in the existing personality frameworks from political psychology.
The aim of the research by the Political Communication Research Unit that focuses on political rhetoric, is to discover stylistic patterns of persuasion, of ideology, of political, economic and military crisis, of consensus and peace, and of medialogic.
Examples are the study of the style used by extremists and populists, the media style on financial crisis, the metaphor use by totalitarian and democratic leaders, de media rhetoric of societies in transition, and the best receipt for persuasion.
The aim of the research by the Political Communication Research Unit that focuses on political psychology, is to clarify the role of personality in politics, in order to make progoses on political and policy developments and leadership styles, and to discover personality patterns of charisma and persuasion; of winning elections and of succesful consensus building; of destructive and authoritarian leadership; and of succesful democratic leadership in crisis situations.
Examples are the study of the impact of personality during the most difficult Belgian federal government formation; at the EU policy level after the Lisboa treaty; on the leadership style and influence of the royals in The Netherlands; on the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, civil war in Syria, or national populism in Italy.
The Political Communication Research Unit currently received the following project grants:
Politiek Impressiemanagement in Vlaanderen
Participatievriendelijkheid van Politieke Websites in huidige en toekomstige EU-lidstaten