E-politics: the use of websites as a communication channel for political parties

Political parties have traditionally served their stakeholders through the traditional media of radio, television and the print media. However, with the advent of the Internet, there has been a paradigm shift from the orthodox method of information provision and communication to the use of web sites in serving stakeholders. This phenomenon provides a new opportunity for political parties to reach out to various stakeholders in new and exciting ways. The purpose of this study was to investigate how political parties are using the public (outer) Internet layer to serve stakeholder groups. To reach this purpose, three research questions were stated: How the objectives (benefits) of political party web sites can be described; how the stakeholders served on these web sites can be described; and finally how the web sites design can be described. To answer these research questions, four case studies (two political party websites from the US and two from Sweden) representing the left and right from each country, were investigated. In order to collect the data, direct observation/interaction with the web sites, as well as interviews with those within each party who were involved with the web site, were used. The findings indicate that political parties use web sites for information provision and communication purposes as well as campaign and fundraising activities. The findings also show that the stakeholders and the content of each web site differs from party-to-party as well as from country-to- country, indicating both a left vs. right (i.e. political) difference in such web sites exists, as does a U.S. vs. Swedish (i.e. cultural differences).

Author: Williams, Edem Bart; Lahdo, Rani

Source: LuleƄ University of Technology

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