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Cristian Vaccari

Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture., Loughborough University

I am a Professor of Political Communication at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Loughborough University, where I am also the Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture. Before joining Loughborough in 2018, I taught at Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Bologna, to which I am still affiliated. I also serve as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics and as the chair of the Information Technology and Politics section of the American Political Science Association.

I study political communication in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital media. My research investigates how political parties, campaign organizations and citizens engage with one another on digital media, and how in the process they negotiate meanings, identities, resources, and, ultimately, power.

My research received awards by the American Political Science Association for three times in four years for the best article published in the fields of Political Communication (in 2016, for an article on dual screening televised political debates coauthored with Andrew Chadwick and Ben O’Loughlin) and Information Technology and Politics (in 2017, for a single-authored article on online mobilization in comparative perspective, and in 2019, for paper coauthored with Augusto Valeriani on online political talk and political participation in comparative perspective).

Together with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna), I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, under contract with Oxford University Press (expected publication date 2020). Based on unique, custom-built survey data on samples representative of internet users across a diverse sample of nine Western democracies, we argue that social media are redefining the ways in which citizens encounter and engage with political information and that, overall, these changes have positive implications for political participation in Western democracies. The book is one of the main outputs of a three-year comparative research project on social media and political participation funded by the Italian Ministry of Education with more than 900,000 Euros, for which I served as Principal Investigator between 2013 and 2016.

My first book, titled Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), shed light on how parties structure their online presence to inform and mobilize citizens, and on how citizens use the internet to gather political information in seven Western democracies (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) between 2006 and 2010. My research has been published across the main journals in the field, including Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Political Communication, International Journal of Press/Politics, Information, Communication & Society, and International Journal of Communication. I am a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Language and Politics and serve in the editorial committee of Comunicazione Politica (ComPol), the leading Italian journal in political communication. From 2014 until 2018, I served as book reviews editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics.

I have been a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and American University.

I have worked in advisory and training capacities with political institutions, political parties, campaign organizations, trade unions, business organizations, civil society groups, and think tanks. Since 2015, I have served as analyst for Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press annual reports. I have been interviewed by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and by French, Italian, Spanish, and Swiss media. My scholarship has been covered by the most widely read blogs in political science (The Monkey Cage, part of the Washington Post, on two separate occasions), digital media and politics (TechPresident), and economics (Freakonomics).


  • –present
    Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture., Loughborough University