Qualitative Political Communication| To Implement or Not to Implement? Participatory Online Communication in Swiss Cities

Ulrike Klinger, Stephan Rösli, Otfried Jarren


Social media platforms and other digital interactive media hold great potential for political communication. This study explores perceptions about this potential and the motivations to adopt participatory tools and assesses both motivations and challenges that local administrations face in the process of technology adoption for political communication. Switzerland is a critical case for local communication, because, on the one hand, media structures, media usage patterns, political culture, and legal regulations make it likely to find high levels of participatory online communication. On the other hand, the formalized participation opportunities of direct democracy may undermine the potential of online participation. Our analysis, based on interviews and document analysis, addresses the implementation of participatory online communication from the theoretical perspectives of rational choice and neoinstitutionalism. We found diffuse rather than specific motivations, role conflicts, frictions between informal online participation and formal decision-making processes, and low demand and resonance from citizens to be important challenges to the implementation of online participation.


participation, social media, local democracy, Switzerland

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