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Political Science and Digitalization | Global Perspectives

Marianne Kneuer
Helen V. Milner (eds.)

Political Science and
Digitalization –
Global Perspectives

Verlag Barbara Budrich
Opladen • Berlin • Toronto 2019


The Digital Revolution and its Impact for Political Science
Marianne Kneuer and Helen V. Milner

The Americas

Digitalization and Political Science in Bolivia
Julio Ascarrunz

Digitalization and Political Science in Brazil
André Marenco

Digitalization and Political Science in Mexico
Rodrigo Sandoval Almazán

Digitalization and Political Science in Paraguay
Liliana Rocío Duarte-Recalde

Digitalization and Political Science in Peru
Martín Tanaka

Digitalization and Political Science in Uruguay
Daniel Buquet

Digitalization and Political Science in the USA
Diana Owen


Digitalization and Political Science in Belgium
Min Reuchamps, Emilie van Haute, Jérémy Dodeigne, Audrey Vandeleene, Benjamin Biard, Jean Faniel and Sophie Devillers

Digitalization and Political Science in Finland
Pertti Ahonen

Digitalization and Political Science in France
Anaïs Theviot

Digitalization and Political Science in Germany
Norbert Kersting

Digitalization and Political Science in Poland
Arkadiusz Żukowski and Maciej Hartliński

Digitalization and Political Science in Portugal
Carlos Jalali

Digitalization and Political Science in Spain
Óscar G. Luengo and Javier García-Marín

Digitalization and Political Science in the United Kingdom
Darren G. Lilleker and Shelley Thompson


Digitalization and Political Science in Japan
Makoto Hayakawa

Digitalization and Political Science in South Korea
Shin-Goo Kang and Chan Wook Park


Digitalization and Political Science in Tunisia
Maryam Ben Salem

Digitalization and Political Science in South Africa
Christopher Isike

List of authors


[7] The Digital Revolution and its Impact for Political Science

Marianne Kneuer and Helen V. Milner


The digital transformation is an example of technological change that will have massive implications for politics and society. It involves a sweeping set of changes that many have likened to the Industrial Revolution. Many argue that it is bringing another enormous transformation of human life (Baldwin, 2019; Schwab 2017; Brynjolffson and McAfee 2014). These dramatic changes are among other things revolutionizing how we understand politics and how leaders govern. Social media, satellite and remote sensing imagery, and the digitization of administrative records have produced a massive amount of new data and social scientists are developing a set of novel methodological tools to deal with them. At the same time, digitalization has magnified old concerns over the future of privacy, surveillance and control, work, and the foundations of democratic governance.

While there is no universally agreed upon definition, most scholars agree that digitalization should be differentiated from a related but conceptually distinct term, digitization (e.g., Brennan and Kries, 2016: p. 556). Digitization refers to the process of converting “analog streams of information” and mechanical processes into “digital bits” and computations (Brennan and Kries, 2016: p. 556). From its earliest manifestations, digitization has been characterized by “extremely low costs, rapid ubiquity, and perfect fidelity” (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2014: 4). Economists characterize digitization as a “general purpose technology” — one that has transformative consequences across many industries and economic sectors (see Bresnahan, 2010; Cockburn et al 2018; Helpman and Trajtenberg, 1996). Exponential growth in computing performance and data storage has led to the broader use of digitized data (Pratt, 2013). For scholars adopting this view, digitization occupies a place alongside the steam engine, the electric generator, and the printing press in transforming all aspects of life (Schwab 2017).

Digitalization refers to the sweeping set of changes that restructure “social and political life … around digital communication and media” (Breenan and Kries, 2016: p. 556). The explosion of new data and technologies has facilitated the spread of information and action among individuals, consumers, firms, industries, movements, and governments. While some scholars view digitalization as a unique and irrepressible force that defines the contemporary world (e. g., Baldwin, 2019; Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2012; Castells, 2010), others claim that digitization is not much different from earlier periods of technological advancement (e. g., Gordon 2015; Wolf 2015).

[8] Technological benefits and challenges of digitalization

Regardless of whether digitalization is sui generis, the impacts of this change for political science are enormous. Digitalization has revolutionized data’s volume, velocity, and variety (Brynjolfsson and MacAffee, 2012). As Brady (2019: 2) writes: “political scientists can observe and analyze (sometimes in real time) the information that people choose to consume, the information produced by political actors, the environment in which they live, and many other aspects of people’s lives.” Political scientists are able to leverage new types of data from the internet, administrative records, political texts, remote sensing technologies, and new media. Massive amounts of these new types of data make exact replication of information possible. Digitalization transforms data analysis from using small samples to ones with “near-universal population coverage” (Eivan and Levin, 2014: 715).

The digital revolution is at the forefront of many methodological advances. With increasing frequency, political scientists leverage automated text analysis (Grimmer and Stewart, 2013; Wilkerson and Casas 2017), probabilistic matching models (Enamorado et al 2018), penalized regression techniques and sparse estimation procedures (Varian 2014; Ratkovic and Tingley 2017), network analysis (Patty and Penn, 2017), clustering methods (Ahlquist and Breuning 2012), and crowd-sourcing (Benoit, et al 2016). Digitalization complements but does not substitute for solid research designs, carefully constructed theories, and appropriate analytical tools (Titiunik 2015).

With many commentators claiming “data as the new oil” (see Haupt, 2016), digitalization’s impact on economic development is also substantial. As Cowhey and Aronson (2017: xi) point out: “[t]hese digital technologies are the ‘digital DNA’ that unleashes dazzling changes in the information, communication, and production capabilities that are transforming how the world works.” Big data enables economic growth through network connections. Economists have found that U. S. firms adopting big data analytics have “output and productivity that is five to six percent higher” than would be absent these technologies (Hilbert 2016: 142). Digitization is massively disrupting almost every aspect of life, leading to revolutionary changes in banking, telecommunications, health care, and education for instance.

In politics, leaders have new channels to understand their constituents and mobilize voters. Governments have harnessed big data to prioritize services and rapidly respond to natural disasters and emergent threats (e. g., Mergel et al 2016). The McKinsey Global Institute (2018: vi) estimates that big data could help cities become “smart” and improve quality-of-life indicators by 10-30 percent over current levels. “Smart cities” can help reduce crime, improve traffic and public transport, help fight preventable disease, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The digital revolution has unquestionably generated extraordinary opportunities for political scientists, but it also raises serious questions about politics, issues like the future of work, privacy, regulatory oversight, international conflict, and democracy. Many of these problems are old, but digitalization has magnified their difficulties and importance.

A key issue these days is how the digital revolution is affecting the workplace and workforce. Automated systems, artificial intelligence, and big data are combining to change the way almost all features of work operate. Moreover, there is concern about to what extent and at what speed humans will be replaced in the labor force. Rising inequality and worries over wages and unemployment due to this technological change are critical issues. The political effects of this dramatic labor force change are much debated and worrisome (Frey and Osborne, 2017; Goos, Manning, and Salomons 2014). Some link the rise of populism with the workforce problems created by the digital revolution (Acemoglu and Restrepo 2017; Levy, 2018).

[9] In the digital world, consumers (sometimes unknowingly) exchange their personal data for “free” or low-cost services (Ciuriak, 2018: 8). The same individuals are frequently linked across datasets, which exacerbates the risks of leaking potentially sensitive information. Heffetz and Ligett (2014) document numerous cases where researchers were able to easily identify individuals in datasets which were ostensibly already anonymized. In addition to inadvertent information disclosure, cybersecurity is a critical problem. Individual and state-sponsored hackers have routinely sought to break into confidential databases to obtain credit reports, email records, proprietary business data, and government secrets.

These problems are exacerbated by the overwhelming concentration of data among a small of number of firms. Steep economies of scale for digitization provide the largest corporations with distinct advantages in data collection where new data is given to the largest aggregators of data Add Ciriuak, 2018 to list of citiations. The five most valuable American companies — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft — control most of the internet and online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to online ad business. Another group of broadband companies — AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Verizon — control all internet connections to homes and smartphones in the US. Much of the technology behind “Smart Cities” is controlled by private firms which are loath to make their underlying algorithms and source code public (Brauneis and Goodman 2018). The concentration of data among a small number of companies has led to an extensive debate over the extent these firms should have in providing access to consumers and how they should safeguard information.

In politics, we confront many of the same difficulties. Technological dominance by the United States and now China of patents and other intellectual property rights is a source of anxiety for many governments (Ciuriak, 2017). Some fear that database vulnerability and reliance on foreign technology may increase the risk of corporate and political espionage by adversaries. Political parties and election candidates have leveraged detailed voter data to affect electoral strategies and disseminate party election programs (Enos and Fowler, 2018; Hersh and Schaffner 2013), but big data may bypass political parties completely. Private firms and foreign governments can exploit big data and disseminate false information (Lazer, et al 2018). This problem is exacerbated by people seeking information that reconfirms their preexisting biases (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017) as well as the fact that fake news disseminates “faster” and “farther” on social media (Vosoughi et al, 2018).

Moreover, the access to information by authoritarian governments poses a unique set of challenges. Big data may help reinforce autocracy by limiting and shaping information flows (Roberts 2017; King, Pan, and Roberts 2013, 2017; Guriev and Treisman, 2018). Authoritarian governments are also harnessing big data to bolster their control and surveillance over dissent by integrating traditional credit scoring mechanisms with social media activity, online shopping data, and social networks to build an all-encompassing view of its citizens (Stockmann, 2018: 403). Many fear that these digital tools will help solidify rather than weaken autocrats' control of over society.

These challenges pose serious questions for political scientists to consider:

1How will digitalization affect the prospect of democracy? The acceleration of information flows may empower citizens and bolster government accountability (Peixoto and Fox 2016). Some believe that greater information has the potential to create a more deliberative and egalitarian democracy (Singh 2013). However, the empirical evidence is mixed. Instead of fostering citizen oversight, does digitialization threaten democracy and make autocracy more stable and likely? Can social media, big data, phone apps for all sorts of services (like location), enable political leaders to take control and manipulate citizens? Does it enable them to monitor and control all aspects of citizens’ lives?

2[10] What types of governance structures and regimes do we need to deal with the negative effects of the digital transformation? How do we craft rules and regulations that allow innovation and efficient use of the digital processes yet still mitigate or prevent its deleterious effects?

3How will the digital revolution affect world politics? Will digitalization make competition and conflict more likely among countries and other actors? Or will it make the costs of conflict even higher and foster greater communication, cooperation, and peace? Is cyberwar likely? How damaging will cyberwarfare be and can it be controlled? Does more information and transparency mean more cooperation among nations? Will we need new international governance regimes to control and manage such technologies? What will these new rules and regulations look like? Can countries agree on them? What is national security in an open and highly connected digital world?

How digitalization affects political science as profession

Since the emergence of the internet and social media, social scientists have vigorously debated the promise and perils of ditigialization. Net-optimist voices are equally present as net-pessimist ones (see for the debate: Hindman 2009, Wilhelm 2009). The properties of digitalization generated different expectations in politics and social sciences. On one side, the technical capacities of the internet have nurtured hopes of constituting an antidote to democratic ills or seemed to provide new modes for mobilizing and organizing democratic protest like during the Arab Spring. The euphoria about the democratizing potential of the internet goes hand in hand, however, with more pessimistic views concerning the fragmentation of the public sphere, the radicalization of communication (hate speech), uncivil or illegal actions (intervention in political processes like elections via social bots, international cybercrime etc.). Eventually, it became evident that the internet can equally be used for mobilizing against liberal democracy.

The ambivalence of digitalization not only includes multiple aspects for political processes, for communication and for interaction in the political realm, but likewise for our discipline. Digitalization is both a transformative force for our discipline in terms of teaching and learning and research, as well as a research subject. Moreover, we are confronted with digitalized methods of data analysis that open new ways of data mining, data collection, and data analysis; but these new opportunities — again — go together with challenges such as research data management, especially ethical aspects of data management. Finally, the practical dimension is concerned as political consulting and policy recommendations may depend to a large extent on a different state of knowledge or different demands of consultancy, as well as on new methods of gaining knowledge. Thus, empirical social research is confronted with the fact that surveys must adapt to the different communication behavior of interviewees or other problems of reliability of data.

For the discipline of political science, digitalization implies various challenges:

• Digitalization has created massive amounts of new forms of data. How will this broaden the type of research and the tools available? How will it change teaching and learning? How will it change publishing and disseminating knowledge? Will it lead to greater progress in social science and improve our understanding of society and politics?

• How did our discipline react in the last years to the challenges of the digital era and how can it respond in the future? What new demands or tasks emerge for the discipline?

• [11] Do we need new theories and concepts? How should studies be tailored to capture the empirical implications of digitalization in the various subdisciplines? Where is interdisciplinary cooperation required?

• What new opportunities does digitalization provide for teaching (see e. g. MOOCs)? Who can benefit from e-learning and how? How can citizenship education benefit from digital modes of knowledge and value building?

• What implications does digitalization have for authors and publishers?

• What new challenges come up for political consultancy? With which challenges are political foundations, think tanks etc. confronted through digitalization?

Structure of the volume

The volume goes back to the IPSA International Mid-Term Conference Political Science in the Digital Age held in December 2017 in Hannover, Germany. The aim of the conference was to examine the challenges of digitalization for the discipline of political science in three ways: 1) the reflection on the discipline and one of the most relevant challenges, namely digitalization; 2) connecting the National Associations of IPSA, the Research Committees, but also the IPSA ‘leading personnel’, encouraging networking and cooperation; 3) offering a platform for addressing problems as well as designing ideas for the future work within IPSA. Scholars from all over the world discussed theory, empirical aspects, methodology, teaching and learning, consulting, and publishing.

It was an upmost concern of this conference to encourage a regional stocktaking in order to get an idea of the challenges and opportunities of digitalization in most world regions. One important element therefore was the ‘Roundtables on Regional Perspectives,’ gathering scholars from all regions of the world, presenting balances and experiences from their countries, their teaching and their academic communities. These roundtables proved to be highly factful and valuable, contributing not only to the information about the state of all those national disciplines about digitalization, but also providing a platform for exchange.

In order to follow-up on this positive experience, we decided to provide this stocktaking — the first of its kind in our discipline, as far as we know — to a wider public, inviting the speakers of the round tables to collaborate on such a book project. At this point, we thank all authors for their contributions and their patience during the editing process. We did a blind peer review process, thanking also all the reviewers for their work. Edited volumes always experience some limitations: in our case, we strived to reflect an informative picture of all regions, also on the basis of IPSA’s general mission to specifically include the Global South. While this intention could be well-accomplished in the case of Latin America, the regions of North and sub-Sahara Africa are underrepresented. This evidence, however, deserves some more detailed considerations. One aspect that was also revealed through debate at the conference, is that in many African countries, digitalization in the academic sphere still is at a starting point or developing, so that a stock taking proved to be difficult. This status correlates with an overall rather weak anchoring of political science as a discipline on the African continent, especially in Northern African countries.

Still, the volume presents the first attempt of stocktaking of a topic that will have a great relevance in the future for our discipline: How are research, teaching and learning, how are researchers, teachers, students and institutions of education in the different countries affected by digitalization? And how do the reactions and the options for shaping the digitalization of political science look like in the different countries? This stocktaking at the [12] same time informs us of open questions, problematic aspects, and future challenges which should be tackled either by governments or by the institutions of higher education and by any individual scholar. We are quite aware of the fact that as the dynamics of the development of digitalization take place, findings on this topic easily underlie the peril of being obsolete. At the same time, the well-known fact that changes in education systems are rather cumbersome may neutralize this possible effect. Moreover, as the articles show and as it could be expected, the different regions themselves and countries in these regions display a variation of policies, speed of action, intensity of action.

In order to get a systematic account of the state in the different countries, we asked the authors to follow a guideline including information about 1) teaching and learning, 2) research and 3) specific conditions or circumstances in the respective country. Regarding teaching, we were interested in the following questions: What role does the digital revolution play in the teaching and learning situation in your country? To what extent are digital tools or online-based communication/interaction integrated in the teaching methods? Could/should digital tools be more sophisticated? What are your experiences with these digital tools of teaching and learning? Would you say that there are big differences between the universities in your country in this regard? If yes, why is this so (federalism, financial resources, etc.)? Are there strategies – on a national level or at subnational level - for introducing, strengthening, or complementing these digital teaching and learning tools?

We also asked the authors to consider the following aspects:

• Content aspects: Is the digital revolution an issue covered in the political science curricula of universities? Is digitalization sufficiently covered? If not, are there specific reasons for that?

• Institutional aspects: Have professorships been created in this area (like Politics and Internet etc.)? Did universities develop their own e-learning programs or similar things?

• [13] Desiderata, positive perspectives, possible risks: What are the desiderata in your country? What positive developments do you expect in terms of digitalization and political science in your country? What are evident problems or future risks to be expected?

Moreover, we asked authors to elaborate upon digitalization's impact on research: What role does the digital revolution play for the research situation in your country? How do digital communication/interaction or digital tools and procedures influence the research situation of political scientists in a general way and what are specific impacts of digitalization? Have digital communications and interactions (their implications, their effects for participation and political processes, their institutional context, usage, economic context) become an issue for political scientists in your country? To what extent? How would you assess the quantitative activity of political scientists referring to those issues (as indicators one could use publications, presence on conferences, research projects)?

Content aspects: Are there specific aspects of digital communication and interaction in politics (its implications, its effects for participation and political processes etc., its institutional context, usage, economic context) that the research in your country focuses on? Can you identify these aspects?

Institutional aspects of research: Have new ‘sections’ been created within National Associations of Political Science? Did publishing houses react to the new issue and offer new series? Have new journals for digital aspects in political science been founded? If not, where can or where do scholars of political science publish their articles on digital aspects? Is cooperation between political scientists with scholars of communication or media science more often than before? More intense? Or are there developments insulating them from each other? Have there been founded new research centres in or beyond universities dedicated to issues of political science and digital aspects?

Desiderata, positive perspectives, possible risks: What are the desiderata in your country? What positive developments do you except in terms of digitalization and political science in your country? What are evident problems or future risks to be expected?


5.1 Looking into the regions and the impact of digitalization

The “Americas” encompass variance in line with expectations; but this variance does not only refer to a North-South bias, but also to different levels of digitalization in Central (Mexico) as well as South America. The latter two regions reflect a quite heterogeneous picture when it comes to the institutionalization of the discipline of political science. For example, Freidenberg (2017: 26–35) differentiates between countries with higher levels of institutionalization (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, México, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Venezuela), countries with an inchoate level (Perú, Ecuador and El Salvador) and countries where political science programs are “almost inexistent” (Honduras, Guatemala, Panamá, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Bolivia). Although this volume only covers a limited sample, all these levels are represented by at least one example. Despite this heterogeneity, it is a common trait of all South American cases that digitalization had a rather low impact on teaching, and here especially referring to the inclusion of digitalization-related topics into the curricula. More usual is the use of digital tools in the classroom, but this also seems to be selective and does not follow an overall strategy “to make the digital revolution a key component in their education programs” (Sandoval Almazán). The authors identify two reasons for digitalization's limited impact: In some countries such as Bolivia or Peru, there is no governmental strategy to equip universities with digital tools or to focus on digital teaching like. In other places such as Paraguay, the equipment is available, but professors do not use it. Still other locations find a lack of equipment availability and willingness among teachers to use digital tools between private and public universities underlined for most cases, but especially for Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. Additionally, Marenco points to a dysfunctional effect that the introduction of e-learning programs at private universities in Brazil had, due to fact that those programs displayed low quality and e-learning in general received a bad image.

In regard to digitalization as a research subject, the picture is even bleaker. There is only a small number of scholars investigating the causes and consequences of digitialization. At the same time, Duarte and Buquet find reason for optimism for digitalization's impact in Paraguay and Uruguay, respectively. In Uruguay, there is a push towards the internationalization of political science research in general through improved possibilities of networking. Duarte points to the opportunities to participate in international research projects, to adopt international standards in research techniques helping the scholars in Paraguay to “become part of an international academic community in a way that would not be possible otherwise.”

Interestingly, the effect of internationalization in the sense of adopting international standards and thus approaching incrementally to an international scholarly community, does not seem to be not a consensual goal in all national political science communities. Tanaka describes that the traditional approach in Peruvian political science is to be involved in public and political affairs and that this is in tension with international standards, metric, rankings etc. Therefore, he argues for a balance between internationalization and domestic political and policy conditions. Similarly, Sandoval Almazán — highlights the [14] risks of digitalization in Mexico and the fear that the social sciences “will copy contents from other countries” wholesale and fail to adapt to Mexico's unique “reality”. This goes together with the claim that Mexican political science has to develop its own research agenda, based on its history and cultural heritage. All authors agree that their countries still have a long way to go in terms of making intensive use of digital tools for teaching, but even more in terms of addressing digitalization as a research subject.

Very generally speaking, this distinguishes these cases from the United States. Notwithstanding there is one central and critical common feature that Owen also very much underlines: the gap between public and private higher education in general, but also in terms of the potential of digitalization for civic education. The author describes the immense discrepancy in the availability of ICT and instructional resources between elite universities and less selective public institutions in the USA. She exposes that the incorporation of digital skills into the middle and high school civics, social studies, and American government curriculum differs tremendously across schools, but the general finding is that political science education in the U. S. lags behind the shifts in the political environment. Thus, the teachers potentially could develop pedagogies that foster digital citizenship skills, but this is not widely done in the political science classroom. Moreover, Owen sets forth a highly relevant issue underscoring the importance of civic empowerment and the gap that also exists in this regard. The expectation that digital tools are prone for more social inclusion (especially of the poor and minorities) only can be put into practice if there is sufficient access to instruction for these groups.

In the case of Europe, we also find large variation in the impact of digitalization but not as much as in Latin America. On one extreme is Belgium where teaching and learning political science as well as research has been highly influenced by the. Belgian political scientists make broad use of digital tools in teaching political science, e. g. MOOCs or podcasts. It can be stated that a transformation of teaching political science is ongoing, initiated by digitalization. Digitalization has also affected the research system of the Belgian political science community. For example, Belgian political scientists have been among the most visible in promoting research on digitalization and the ABSP has even launched a blog on the topic. Digital tools are also used in order to disseminate the findings of Belgian political scientists to the wider society. On the other side of the scale stands Finland, which is somewhat surprising given that this country is among the better performers in digital technology and e-government. The results of an international study on digitalization of political science in Finland indicates that digital tools only play a minor role in teaching. It seems even to be a wide spread opinion among Finnish political scientists that digitalization rather makes teaching more complicated. Likewise, digital topics and digital instruments are of secondary importance for the Finnish researchers. Other disciplines are dominating the research on digital issues. Hope for the better especially derives from the advanced technological standard of Finland in general and from the priority that the new government poses on digital topics.

Other European countries studied in this volume are located between these two cases being moderately influenced by the digitalization. While the usage of digital teaching and learning tools entered practically all classrooms, there are differences in the inclusion of digitalization (as a teaching subject) as well as in the degree of focusing on it as research subject. Moreover, the potential of the internet for publishing is also exploited to a different degree. While Spain, for example, is a country that has undergone important changes due to the digitalization, the same does not apply to the discipline of political science. It has to be mentioned, however, that the first online university in the world was founded in Spain with the opportunity to graduate in political science. In terms of research, however, Spain has produced much less scholarship on digitalization. France is another European country showing mixed results. Despite government incentives, political science teaching [15] in France is a slower adopter of new digital technologies. That is not to say that there is no innovative usage of digital tools in teaching political science in France. Sciences Po launched its first mobile classes in October 2017 and offers a new master’s course. Although political scientists in France have been slow to research digitalization's effects, there has been a sharp growth on the topic more recently.

The Portuguese case is interesting, as there the teaching system is hardly influenced by the digitalization, in favor of more established methods. In contrast, political scientists seem to be further ahead in respect to research, measured by the number of dissertations considering digitalization as well as researchers publishing digital related articles to an amount that is above the average worldwide. Likewise, there could be found increased international collaborations within the research system, which has been made possible through the usage of digital tools. Poland has to be regarded as a country with a political science community that is only moderately affected by the digitalization. Based on survey results, the authors point out that teaching political science in Poland has been influenced by digitalization. Besides Web 1.0-tools, there is a significant usage of Web 2.0-instruments, like YouTube and Facebook, through lecturers. The most important tools are, however, e-learning platforms, whereas there are no Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or similar innovative alternatives. Furthermore, there are no institutionalized research units, dealing with the topic of digitalization. A remarkable characteristic in the Polish research system is the outstanding share of political science journals offering open access via; actually, the majority of journals follows such an approach.

The last two European countries under consideration — the United Kingdom and Germany – are not as digitalized as one might assume. Although it is a norm to use digital technologies when teaching political science at British universities, there are only few opportunities to learn advanced skills in the field of digitalization. The minor significance of digitalization is also reflected by the curriculum of most universities, where the term is seldom mentioned explicitly, and the absence of a professorship on politics and digitalization. The minor role of digitalization for British political scientists is also mirrored by the small number of articles in traditional political science journals in the UK dealing with digitalization. This seems to change due to the significant role of social media during the 2017 elections and Brexit. It is worth mentioning that there are social science research centres, such as the Oxford Internet Institute, dealing with digitalization. Roughly, the same can be said about Germany. It is difficult to find a digital infrastructure in the teaching system within the universities. There are, however, regular courses dealing with digitalization in some political science departments in Germany. In contrast to the rather minor role digitalization plays in teaching political science in Germany, the research on this topic is doing slightly better. Since the late 1990s, German political scientists publish regularly on this issue. Similar to the UK, Germany installed a research centre, the Waizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, which is a government-launched and -financed institute and, among others, carried by political scientists.

The two Asian cases do not display a strong influence of digitalization. Japan seems to be a little less influenced by digitalization than India a nationwide report indicates, however, that the vast majority of universities in Japan have introduced digital learning management systems. Nonetheless, the actual usage is rather poor. Another restriction results from the desire of most Japanese students to learn in “some kind of traditional classroom structure” rather than exclusively online. Furthermore, digitalization is of minor importance for political science researchers in Japan. One explanation for this could be that in Japan it is the discipline of sociology traditionally dealing with media and information. Another reason for the absence of a lively political science dominated research field on digitalization might be that political science in Japan often belongs to law faculties.

[16] One of the more remarkable findings comes from South Korea. Being one of the most digitalized countries in the world, its universities could also be expected to be at the forefront of the digital revolution. To be sure, there are cyber universities, devices that register the attendance in classes and course management systems, which are an integral part of each class. Surprisingly, however, the discipline of political science rather neglected digitalization as a as well as a research topic. For example, only a tiny share out of the huge amount of massive open online courses comes from political science. Furthermore, only two of 226 political science online courses deal with digitalization. In addition, there is very little research on digitalization conducted by political scientists, which could be attributed to, among other reasons, the low acceptance rates of papers dealing with digitalization in domestic political science journals. Thus, the high degree of digitalization of the Korean university system in general is economy- and government-induced; at the same time, the activities of the political science community are only relatively slightly influenced by digitalization.

The smallest impact of digitalization on political science can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and the MENA region. Two notable exceptions are South Africa – as regional hegemon in Africa and emerging soft power in the Global South – and Tunisia – as the only young democracy resulting from the Arab Spring. In South Africa, very similar to other countries, ICT are more easily integrated into teaching, but less into the curricula. And in terms of research, the country is also rather an incipient ground. An interesting aspect, however, is the political relevance of social media platforms on political participation and its relevance to higher education. For example, as Isike describes, following the Arab Spring in North Africa, political participation of young South Africans has increased, and the “Fees Must Fall”-movement (see #FeesMustFall) could be linked to the ‘discovery’ of social media as a tool of political change. Leaders of the movement used social media to mobilize support among young and old South Africans and they eventually succeeded in influencing the government’s position, culminating in its announcement of free higher education and training for poor and working class South African undergraduate students in December 2017 effective 2018.

Finally, Tunisia is an example of a country with a very low impact of digitalization in every regard (teaching and research). Ben-Salem argues that the marginal status of political science as a discipline, the inadequate resources of higher education institutions and of the state itself, the economic conditions of students and a certain resistance to as reasons for digitalization's weak impact. Thus, the main challenge lies in establishing an independent discipline distinct from legal studies. In terms of research, Ben-Salem arguesthat it would be beneficial for the development of political science in the region on one side to achieve interdisciplinarity, but on the other side also “to outgrow the thesis of exceptionality that makes the MENA region an irreducible space to the conceptual tools elaborated by the West.”

5.2 Which factors influence the digitalization of the political science?

A first and somewhat unexpected finding is that the degree of digitalization and adoption of ICT in a country does not seem to be a valid predictor for the influence on teaching (adoption of digital tools in teaching, including digital topics into to the curricula, installing new programs on digitalization in the political science departments) or for the influence on research (here: digitalization as an instrument for publishing etc. or as a research subject) in the discipline of political science. Thus, countries performing like frontrunners in ICT penetration (Finland, UK, South Korea or USA – see Internet Worldstats 2018, ITU 2018) are not necessarily avantgarde when the digitalization of our discipline is concerned.

[17] Interestingly, other factors seem to be more relevant; one of them is the institutionalization of the discipline in the country. Thus, those countries where political science rather constitutes a younger discipline (because during a dictatorship it has not been present or suppressed like in several Latin American countries, Poland, and Tunisia) and where in consequence the discipline is rather weakly institutionalized, the access to digital tools and online learning provides welcomed opportunities for academic development. On the contrary, in countries which displays a longer period and therefore also a higher level of institutionalization teaching and research of political science can be influenced less, even if the society is highly permeated by digital tools (like the UK or France). Against the backdrop of the long history of political science in these countries, digital media are a very new phenomenon. There exist long standing teaching structures and political issues in which f. e. the British political science focuses traditionally. Apparently, a high level of institutionalization in combination with a long tradition of the discipline delays the adaptation of new phenomena. Another sub-factor of the disciplinary institutionalization is the degree of autonomy, and this feature seems to be very strongly shaped by the historical tradition and the genesis of the discipline. Two paths can be identified: firstly, the emergence out of law studies, Staatswissenschaft or public administration (like in several European countries, Latin America, Tunisia and Japan) which seems to make it more difficult for adapting new issues into the research agenda; and secondly, an early separation as an autonomous discipline (USA, UK and Belgium), which in contrast, increases the acceptance of new research topics.

Other institutional factors are – by nature – the structure of the national university system and here especially the existence of public and private universities. As already mentioned, in some regions like the Americas (and here North as well as Central and South), the gap between the digital teaching infrastructure, between the ‘modernization’ of curricula, and the inclusion of digital aspects into the didactical and pedagogical approaches can be immense between private universities with larger resources and public universities. There is only one country, namely, Mexico, where the author stated that digitalization of content may occur in public universities faster than in private universities.

Nearly all authors pointed to a critical factor for digitalization: the central actors – mainly the professors – and their attitude towards the usage digital tools in the classroom or their research interest in the topic of digitalization. Thus, this “human” factor plays an prominent role. Even if the universities provide the infrastructure (like e-learning management systems), digitalization's impact depends to a large extent on the professor if and how digital tools are integrated into the teaching. Furthermore, professors themselves need preparation for this new kind of teaching system. Here, a generational gap becomes evident. This refers possibly even more to digitalization as research topic constituting rather a “playing field for younger scholars” as several authors emphasize. Another central actor in this regard are, of course, the universities or the governments (always depending from the national system on higher education and who has the responsibility). Thus, the Belgium case (which results show to be the best performer in our sample) shows the existence of universities with high ambitions in promoting the digitalization of science and on regional political actors “that are pushing for more use of digital tools”. Moreover, the national political science association, the Belgium Political Science Association (ABSP) is also a very ambitious actor. Thus, here seems to prevail a positive conjuncture of several actors pushing for the adoption of digitalization on different levels. Big research centres like the Oxford Internet Institute in UK or the German Waizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society might also function as an incentive for other initiatives in the field. For a lot of cases (see Latin America) however, a national strategy for digitalization would be needed (including national resources).

[18] Park and Kang, as well as Jalali, raise two interesting points when it comes to a possible correlation between teaching and research. Thus, Park and Kang hold that “(P)art of the reason for the relatively little attention paid to digital revolution in teaching is related to the lack of research activity on the subject. That is, we cannot expect an opening of an independent course when there is not enough original research work or researcher who is interested in the subject.” In their understanding, research interest in digitalization would constitute a factor for developing curricula and programs, installing professorships etc. Thus, the lesser the degree of research on digitalization, the less we could expect the influence of digitalization in the field of teaching. This would be worth testing in other countries beyond South Korea.

Jalali points to the fact that publications as outcome of scholarly work have a greater impact on academic career paths than innovations in teaching. Therefore, scholars interested in digitalization would rather dedicate to research – conducting projects or produce publications instead of investing time and resources into new didactic and pedagogic approaches. This is an explanation for the asymmetric relationship between a rather low digitalized teaching and a high interest in digitalization as research topic. The question thus becomes: How important is the argument of a higher benefit for the academic career? And how strongly do scholars separate their research subjects from the interest in teaching? This question, or course, is a more general one, but possibly is more acute in the field of digitalization.

As a last bundle of aspects, it is interesting to look at structural factors like geography or demography. Naturally, the level of economic development is expected to be tightly linked to the level and quality of ICT infrastructure. But even here, we can find contradictory results: Portugal and Spain – both countries heavily affected by the economic crises of 2008 and the following years – seemed to have dealt differently with the austerity measures. Jalali demonstrates that austerity impeded investment into the digitalization of Portugal's higher education system, while Luengo shows that f. e. the adoption of free open source software and the Moodle platform were induced by the economic crisis when universities across Spain had to cope with reducing budgets. But beyond economic factors, some authors point to others structural aspects. Remarkably, for South Korea, a forerunner in digitalization, the authors consider factors like the aging population, the decrease in the number of young students, and – in consequence – the increasing pressure of reducing the size of political science faculties or even abolishment of the department as a hindrance for taking policy initiatives for pushing forward political science in education and research. On the other hand, for a lot of societies – especially with a different demographic structure like in Latin America as well as for Africa – the digitalization of especially education could represent a huge potential. This is even more true if the geographical size of a country – like Brazil and India – comes in. For a dispersed society, virtual universities or virtual learning systems could have a substantial benefit.

All in all, the contributions clearly show that the potential of digitalization is not yet fully exploited – neither for education nor for research. The degree of influence of digitalization on the respective national cases depends on several factors that refer to historical paths and structural factors as well as the individual interests of relevant actors such as professors, scholars, and governments. As Tanaka writes, “Digitalization is a useful means, but it is no magic bullet that will by itself solve problems that should be addressed in other dimensions”.

[19] Acknowledgements

We would like to thank a number of people who contributed to the IPSA Conference in Hannover and to this volume. First, the editors are indebted to Christina Forsbach (research assistant at the University of Hildesheim) who did an enormous job in helping to organize the Hannover Conference. Our thanks also go to the Montreal team of IPSA, especially Guy Lachapelle and Anne Duhamel. The conference was only possible due to the generous financial support of the Volkswagen Foundation, which also provided us as venue the impressive Palace Herrenhausen in Hannover. Likewise, we counted on the financial support of the German Research Fund (DFG) and the German Political Science Association (DVPW).

We thank the colleagues that took over the organization of the Regional Roundtables at the IPSA Conference which constituted the basis for this volume: Thomas Demmelhuber (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg), Yuko Kazuya (Keio University), Norbert Kersting (University of Münster), Karen Mossberger (Arizona State University), and Yanina Welp (University of Zurich). Likewise, we thank the Special Rapporteur to the Roundtables: Darren Lilleker (Bournemouth University), Oscar Luengo (University of Granada), Simon Rinas (University of Hildesheim), Wolf J. Schünemann (University of Hildesheim), and Sebastian Stier (Gesis, Cologne). Some of these colleagues who supported the organization of the Conference Roundtables also contributed as authors. We also are especially grateful for the help of our anonymous reviewers. For helping to prepare the book, we must thank again Christina Forsbach, as well as Jennifer Dalnodar (student assistant) and Mario Datts (research assistant), all at the University of Hildesheim as well as Adrienne Jung at the IPSA office in Montreal.

Moreover, we are obliged to Barbara Budrich and her publishing house as well as to her team. Barbara Budrich was highly interested in this project and extremely supportive in producing this book.

We hope that this book constitutes a basis for further reflection on this important topic in our scientific community in general and within the International Political Science Association. It is a pleasant coincidence that this volume is launched in the year of IPSA’s 70th anniversary. It emphasizes IPSA’s ongoing efforts to contribute to the reflection on our discipline on a global scale and to contribute to the exchange across the regions.


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[22] Digitalization and Political Science in Bolivia

Julio Ascarrunz


In the last decades, political science has turned from a discipline to a field of study, with scholars devoting time and thought to analyzing its history and development, both as case studies and in comparative perspective. The present work focuses on Bolivian political science and its relationship with ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies), in order to reach the main objective of identifying the role of the digital revolution in the country’s discipline. In order to achieve this goal, the paper first summarizes the history of political science in Bolivia to better understand the current state of the discipline. This is followed by an analytical framework that contextualizes the digital revolution and its impact on political science. The main section describes that relationship in teaching, learning, and networks. The paper concludes with a balance of the status of political science in Bolivia and some recommendations for the future.

The history of Bolivian political science2

Bolivian political science was formally founded in 1983 at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in the city of La Paz, following two previous attempts in 1969 and 1979 interrupted by military coups (Bueno & Torrico 2015). After the democratization process, which ended in 1982, the promoters take back their intention to make the program function, and though it was created in 1983, it is only in 1987 that the university receives its first political science professors formed abroad, mainly from Mexico. In 1992, political science starts to function at Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno (UAGRM) in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra with the first graduates in 1996. In 1997, in the city of Cochabamba, the political science program is created at Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS); first depending from the Sociology, Law, and Economics programs, and since 2001 as independent program. These three processes described above, took place in the [23] three main cities of Bolivia and in three public universities, constituting the first “stage” for Bolivian political science regarding programs creation.

At private universities, the first political science program was established at Universidad Nuestra Señora de La Paz (UNSLP) in 1999, followed by a Department of Political Science and Philosophy at Universidad de la Cordillera. Finally, in 2003 the Universidad Católica Bolivia (UCB) established a series of undergraduate social science programs, among which was Political Science. These three private universities held their programs only in La Paz3, and they constitute as the second “stage” of political science programs.

The last stage of political science programs has started recently, in 2008 at Universidad Amazónica de Pando (UAP) and in 2011 at Universidad Pública de El Alto (UPEA). These have a special distinction, since it’s the first time that the discipline leaves the main three cities and goes to other places, in this case to Cobija, in the department of Pando, and to El Alto, a neighbor city to La Paz. These universities stand out for being relatively new and have betted for political science programs at such a “young” face of their institutional lives.

When it comes to research, Bolivian political science is still weak. This weakness is not due to a lack of research or researchers, but more because of a failure in the diffusion processes or because lack of acceptance among international academia. From the eight universities with a political science program, four of them have a research institute and a journal and another one has only a journal4. Moreover, the five journals (Revista Ciencia Política, Conocimiento i Política, Estudios Políticos, Ciencias Políticas, and Análisis Político)5 face problems of basic institutionalization processes, such as having a designated ISSN, compliance with strict periodicity, or counting with a correct editorial practice for academic journals (for example, call for paper or peer review). This past year, however, there has been an attempt from the Bolivian Political Science Association (ABCP) to promote a publication that can at least meet these basic requirements: the Bolivian Journal of Political Science6. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that Bolivian political studies, among which political science is inserted with sociology or law, have had more impact when research comes in books, and these books have been mainly produced outside universities with the support of international or multilateral cooperation funds (García-Yapur 2017), but usually with limited or no peer review or other academic standars.

Finally, professional and academic networks of political science proliferate in Bolivia. There are four regional networks (from La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and Tarija) and one national network. However, none of these connect with each other nor do they gather many members to be viewed as legitimate. Outside of La Paz, the three networks were created to respond to regional interests of political science professionals that see research and academic promotion as centralized; while in La Paz, the regional and the national7 networks were created seeking more spaces of representation and action. The Colegio de Politólogos de La Paz (CPLP) was founded first as a response to the closed informal structure of the University8. In the same way, a few years later, the Bolivian Political Science Association was founded, looking for a more open and academic space as a response to [24] the perceived closed structure of the CPLP. At the end of all the political games inside these associations, political science as one cohesive discipline has not been able to institutionalize.

Digital revolution, digital era and teaching/learning in political science

The digital era9 can be observed by its relationship with the social sciences in two dimensions, more specifically with political science: as a tool and as a study object. Political science has the option, first, to relate to the discipline with technologies as tools, this is, to instrumentalize these contemporary benefits in order to improve the research of traditional subjects. On the other hand, the discipline has the chance to use this framework of technologies and the information society to study its effects over politics, whether produced directly or indirectly. It is important to identify the effects of either approach. By using or studying technology in politics, one realizes that constraints in obtaining and processing data, which were traditionally more common in the natural and physical sciences, no longer exist and thus the new challenge comes in knowing how to handle this reality (Alcántara 2017).

This section focuses on technology within the curriculum and used for pedagogic purposes. The paper analyzes two aspects: first, the presence/absence of subjects that relate politics and technology, and, second, the use of digital tools in classrooms in teaching applications. For the first part, the paper analyzes the curricula of five of the seven political science programs currently in Bolivia: UMSA, UMSS, UCB, UNSLP, and UAP (Ascarrunz 2017). For the teaching methods evaluation, information from only three universities will be used: UMSA, UCB and UNSLP.10

From the five curricula obtained, three of them (all public universities) are organized by years, while the other two (from private universities) use a semester system. Whether the curricula are by year or by semester, the first courses are mainly introductory ones, such as “Introduction to Political Science” or “Introduction to International Relations”, or the basis of the study of politics, like constitutional law, economics, sociology, and history. All curricula differ from each other depending on the departmental approach, whether sociological, legalistic, or public administration oriented. From 195 courses reviewed in the five curricular designs stated, only one has direct relation with technology: “Informatics” in the seventh semester at UNSLP. Despite the fact that this course is part of the political science program, the approach is not exclusive to the discipline, since what is taught is the basics of computer management such as Microsoft Office and some SPSS, but for commercial purposes such as survey tabulations related to market studies.11 Indirectly, there are similar courses at this and other universities that can be inferred to emphasize technologies used: for example, those related to communications and political marketing [25] and/or electoral behavior12 due to recent phenomena that involve new ICTs in these processes; however, it is not possible to confirm this due lack of access to course syllabi.

On the other hand, the use of technology as a pedagogic tool, is analyzed from classes at UNSLP, UCB and UMSA. At all three universities, digital tools are limited to the use of computers, the internet, and multimedia projector. The use of these technologies depends on each subject and professor rather than on a university policy making it mandatory. In this sense, the youngest professors or the ones with studies abroad are more likely to use and exploit these tools beyond slides presentations, for example, with the connection with other professors in the world via Skype, or the use of platforms or online materials such as databases or information sites to improve and enhance interactions between professors and student. This kind of practice involves a minority of professors in most of the universities.

The problems get bigger when it comes to considering the differences between universities, which are related to both financial resources and centralization. Public universities tend to have more resources, but spending procedures are slower, while private universities do not have as many resources as public ones. Another problem is connected to the importance of political science programs for universities and students. Programs like law, social communication, or economics, among the social sciences, or architecture, business administration, or engineering are more popular among new students, both in public and private universities. This poses problems for public universities, while private universities directly decide to subsume political science under other disciplines.

Finally, the prospect does not look too different from into the near future. There are no explicit strategies by universities, university system, or governments to insert technologies into the teaching/learning processes for higher education or improving educational quality according to international standards. In this regard, if higher education in Bolivia does not embrace technologies both in its use and development, the chances of educational crisis and isolation from global scholarship increases. More specifically, political science programs, as a less popular option among students, might suffer from a higher impact on this kind of crises that could affect the whole system. Despite this negative scenario, Bolivian political science can improve its development (and its use of technologies) by modernizing, from curricula to professors, keeping closer relations with other associations, universities, and individuals.

Digital era and research

This section looks at research in its relationship with digitalization as an object of study, rather than as an instrument13. Two institutional data sources are used: final theses data from UMSA’s political science program14 and journals from UMSA, UCB, UNSLP and ABCP. This responds to the fact that other research conducted by the political science programs (theses, journals, or books) are not available online. By itself, this is revealing about the relation between digital tools and research. From data on 205 final theses, only three have an explicit object related to digital technology, all of them, as expected, during the XXI century: one about education (Plata 2006) and two about electoral processes or camaigns [26] (López 2016, Torrez 2015). Two others do not explicitly have an ICT-related investigation object but indirectly study processes connected to digitalization: one related to globalization and the other to political marketing. This scenario may not be completely representative for all Bolivian political science as it is in the cases of curricula.15

When it comes to publications, this paper addresses five journals16: Ensayo and Revista Ciencia Política (from UMSA), Ciencias Políticas (from UCB), Análisis Político (from UNSLP), and Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política – RBCP (from ABCP). It is important to state that none of the journals display their content online – except for RBCP – nor their indexes – except for the aforementioned and Análisis Político. The purpose here is to describe when and where digital-related topics were analyzed.

Ensayo was the first journal aimed at analyzing political phenomena. It started in the late 1980s and published three issues, with a total of 23 papers were published, among other documents and book reviews.17 The other journal from UMSA, Revista Ciencia Política, started in the 1990s and went through two eras. In the first era, a total of sixty papers were published until 2003, while in the second era, from 2007, eighty-two articles were published18. Within this journal, in both eras, there is only one paper that can directly relate to digital topics, by studying cyber-democracy (Balderrama 2012). It is understandable that Ensayo and the first era of Revista Ciencia Política don’t have any technology-related papers, since they were issued in a time where most of those technologies didn’t yet exist or were unavailable in Bolivia.

The first journal from a private university is Análisis Político from UNSLP which started in 1997. This publication issued 20 editions of the journal in which a total of 241 papers were published, and from those, nine related to digital topics and politics by analyzing the effects of globalization and technology through social and cultural effects over politics (Paz-Navajas 1998, León 1997, Riveros 2004, Fernández 2005), or by studying the relation between ICT and democracy (Fernández 2001, Dader 2002, Aliaga 2007) or elections and political communication (Gómez 2002, Badillo y Marenghi 2002). The second private university with its own journal is UCB which has issued two numbers of its recent journal, Ciencias Políticas. In these two editions, nine papers were published, and despite its recent creation, digital issues seem to be popular since already two of the papers address the topic: one about the use of Facebook in elections (Vélez 2017) and the other about digital diplomacy (Lazarte 2017).

Finally, a recent enterprise, Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política, launched by the Bolivian Political Science Association, has published two issues in which there are 11 papers, in general, and two of them have a relationship with digital issues: a first one studies the situation of ICT, or its effects, in politics and political science (Alcántara 2017), and a second one studies the Twitter account of Evo Morales (Ojeda 2018). On the other hand, by the specific content of the article, there is one about “ethnic” voting and electoral [27] support for the MAS (Centellas 2017) that uses statistical models to assess its research question and processes the data in a computational software, such as Stata.

Nevertheless, the most important aspect of RBCP in relation to ICT appears when analyzing the structure of the journal. One can observe that the journal itself uses digital media like Facebook to enhance interaction with scholars all around the world, including inviting them to contribute.

In total, from 426 papers published by all institutional journals of political science programs and networks, 14 are related to digital issues, meaning that only a 3.3 % of all analyzed works study, directly or indirectly, the relationship of digital era/technology/information society and politics. Attempting to control for period of time, 283 papers were published during the twenty-first century, meaning that those 14 total technology-related papers constitute the 4.95 % of the total.

Beyond these academic-institutional experiences, there are a few other institutions, mainly NGOs that focus and/or use digital technology and its relation to politics. For example, Ciudadanía, based in the city of Cochabamba, applies its own data gathering and survey management system called ADGYS (Android Data Gathering System) a project developed in combination with LAPOP (Latin American Public Opinion Project). The products of this system are political culture studies based on individual-level data. Similarly, Fundación Redes, studies and attempts to intervene on information society and democracy within it, though following a more sociological approach.

These situations − digital study objects or tools in Bolivian political science − are not very common. One may think that only quantitative research is related to the use of technology or digital tools. Even if that is correct, Bolivian political science rarely makes quantitative research with the exceptions of Ciudadania’s studies. But recent methodological advances in social and political sciences have demonstrated that qualitative research can also take advantage of digital tools.

Political science networks in the digital age

Networking has become one of the easiest tasks with the developments of information and communication technologies. But even in this situation, Bolivian political science has not taken advantage from networking facilities. From the five professional and academic networks existing in the country (four regionals and one national), the professional associations of Cochabamba and of La Paz are the only ones that have more activity in social networks like Facebook, the latter has an online-based office and therefore most of its working process takes place online. The other two regional Associations, those of Santa Cruz and of Tarija, are not as active as the first ones. Most of these associations use digital tools for promoting activities.

In the case of the Bolivian Political Science Association (ABCP), the use of digital tools is concentrated on its journal. However, digital communication is important for this association for the contact with academics and associations around the world. In this sense, contact of ABCP with IPSA, AMECIP (from Mexico), ANAP (from Argentina), or ALACIP has been possible due to the use of digital technology. In the same line, these last few years there has been contact from de University of Sao Paulo (USP) to collaborate in a research project about Bolivia.

[28] Conclusions

After this brief review of the situation of digitalization and the Bolivian political science some conclusions can be drawn. As seen in the first sections, political science in Bolivia is far from institutionalized and while other countries in Latin America are struggling to enhance their institutionalization processes, Bolivia is facing the uncertain beginning of that institutionalization process. This means that, so far, it is possible only to account for the stability of some political science programs, while research and networking have still a long road to go, as well as postgraduate courses.

This particular situation makes it harder to assess specific circumstances like digitalization. As Bolivian political science is having problems with researching, spreading that research, networking, and even with teaching and learning processes (specially outside undergraduate programs), it is even harder to think of including digital processes in teaching or in research.

Despite these difficulties, this paper has given a brief close up and some descriptive answers to these issues. Therefore, the most convincing conclusion this work can provide is that the discipline faces more difficulties in terms of adopting digital issues or digital processes if the institutionalization of the discipline has not arrived or started as in the Bolivian case. Regarding the prospects, it seems that after the discipline had reached a point of stabilization, the next step could be including digital issues in the research agenda allowing for in-depth-analysis in this field.


Alcántara, Manuel (2017): La ciencia política en el primer cuarto del siglo XXI. In: Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política 1, 1, pp. 7–23.

Aliaga, Julio (2007): Ciudadanía en la red: una plataforma para el diálogo y la democracia en Bolivia. In: Análisis Político 15, pp. 29–38.

Almond, Gabriel (1988): Separate Tables: Schools and Sects in Political Science. In: PS: Political Science & Politics 21, 4, pp. 828–842.

Ascarrunz, Julio (2017): Historia y desarrollo de la ciencia política boliviana: una aproximación nacional. In: Anuario Latinoamericano. Ciencias Políticas y Relaciones Internacionales 5, pp. 173–189.

Badillo, Ángel/Marenghi, Patricia (2002): De la democracia mediática a la democracia electronica. In: Análisis Político 8, pp. 126–154.

Balderrama, Ronald (2012): Bolivia en el siglo XXI. Ciberdemocracia 2.0 vs. Estatismo ritualista. In: Revista Ciencia Política, pp. 73–95.

Bueno, Ramiro/Torrico, Gualberto (2015): Ciencia Política Académica. Trayectoria histórica y política de la Carrera de Ciencia Política y Gestión Pública (1983–2012). La Paz: UMSA-Plural.

Centellas, Miguel (2017): Does “ethnic” voting explain electoral support for the MAS? A multivariate analysis using municipal-level data. In: Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política 1, 1, pp. 51–78.

CEPAL (2016): La nueva revolución digital. De la Internet del consumo a la Internet de la producción. Santiago de Chile: United Nations.

Dader, José Luis (2002): La ciberdemocracia posible: Reflexión prospectiva a partir de la experiencia en España. In: Análisis Político 8, pp. 47–101.

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Fernández, Franklin (2001): Democracia electrónica: la revolución digital desde la perspectiva política. In: Análisis Político 7, 115–129.

García-Yapur, Fernando (2017): Narrativas de lo político en la ciencia política boliviana. In: Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política 1, 1, pp. 25–49.

Gómez, Pedro (2002): Nuevas tecnologías, comunicación política y parlamentarismo ¿Hacia una democracia electrónica? In: Análisis Político 8, pp. 102–125.

Lazarte, Nicolás (2017): La diplomacia digital en la política exterior boliviana. Ciencias Políticas 2, pp. 79–96.

León, Frank (1997): La globalización: una estructura societal del futuro. In: Análisis Político 2.

López, Ricardo (2016): Análisis comparado de la normativa y experiencia electoral sudamericana sobre la utilización del voto electrónico y su viabilidad en Bolivia. Undergraduate Thesis UMSA. Universidad Mayor de San Andrés/ Carrera de Ciencia Política y Gestión Pública.

Ojeda, Alex (2018): Análisis de sentimiento e interacción de @evoespueblo. In: Revista Boliviana de Ciencia Política 2, 1, pp. 25–35.

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Plata, José (2006): Bachillerato Virtual en Educación Alternativa para el Departamento de La Paz. Undergraduate Thesis UMSA. Universidad Mayor de San Andrés/ Carrera de Ciencia Política y Gestión Pública.

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Riveros, Gonzalo (2004): Los desafíos éticos y socioculturales de la sociedad de la información. In: Análisis Político 10, pp. 14–26.

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I would like to thank the comments and revisions from the editors, as well as Miguel Centellas and Xenia Ariñez.

This section is based on previous research where the history of the discipline is described from its teaching programs, its research mainly in journals, and its networks (Ascarrunz 2017).

This is important since Universidad de la Cordillera and UCB have presence in other departments of Bolivia.

In the case of Bolivian political science, this is important because most of the professors hired by universities do not have full time contracts, therefore academic activity is sometimes restricted to teaching and not researching as well.

The information regarding the journal Ciencias Políticas, from UCB, is out of the analysis made by Ascarrunz (2017).

This experience will be deepened in the section of the digital revolution.

Even though it’s national, it has its base in La Paz.

Reported as closed, because of politics inside the University (Ascarrunz, 2017)

Despite the significant conceptual differences among digital era, digital revolution, and information society (see Rojas, 2010; CEPAL, 2016; Rendón-Rojas, 2001), this paper seizes their common denominator of use of technological developments (especially regarding information and communications).

10 The first five universities considered are the ones that have their curricula posted on-line and available for public. The second three are the ones based in La Paz city, which made it easier to gather information, both by experience and shallow interviews. Interviews to other universities’ staff were tried by e-mail or other digital communication, but no answer was received.

11 This information was provided by a group of six students from the university.

12 Those subjects can be found at UMSA, UMSS, and UCB.

13 Revisions of programs, theses, journals, and books was carried out until june 2018.

14 This information is only available online for this university; the other seven political science programs don’t make their final grade researches (for example, theses) available so easily.

15 In curricular content, UMSA has leaded the panorama in Bolivia regarding the direction of political science. For example, during the first stages with Marxism predominance (Bueno & Torrico 2015), this university was the first to try to balance with other theoretical approaches; the same happened regarding the dependence of the discipline especially from Law.

16 Like the other publications, the other two journals, Conocimiento i Política (UAGRM) and Estudios Políticos (UMSS), don’t have any information for digital consultation, and being in different cities made it harder to get the data from these. Although an e-mail or social network query was made, the information wasn’t provided.

17 The first two issues had State Theory as main topic, although, overall, the papers go from democracy, State, and nation to the role of political scientists in labor market.

18 In this recount, two issues are missing, one from each era. This is due to lack of information at the library of the political science department.

[30] Digitalization and Political Science in Brazil

André Marenco


The organization and development of political science in Brazil has now lasted for just over fifty years. Its origins go back to the first academic and post-graduate programs set up in the 1960s, a little after the establishment of an authoritarian military government in the country. More recently its expansion was driven by the foundation of the Brazilian Political Science Association in 1996, which led to the nationalization and pluralism of the research agendas.

This paper seeks to review the conditions for the formation, development and challenges of political science in Brazil and involves mapping: (a) the disciplinary professionalization of post-graduate degree programs and departments with the aim of providing academic qualifications to new generations of PhD students and researchers; (b) in the second part, one can find a mapping of activities of teaching, research and scientific production related to digitalization by Brazilian political science. Running parallel with this, it seeks to incorporate a broader dimension in the analysis by comparing the development of political science in Brazil with its Latin American counterparts. In contrast with the period leading up to the mid-2000s, when the scientific output of political science in Brazil reached levels equivalent to those of Argentina and Chile – but below those of México – it has experienced a significant rise in the last ten years and according to the SJR (Scimago Journal & Country Rank) has now become the leading country in Latin America. The importance of post-graduate studies in scientific research and induction programs for publications at an international level, testify the significance of this phenomenon.

Origins of political science in Brazil

Viewed in retrospect, it is clear that the formation of political science in Brazil had three key features characterizing its early stages: (1) the discipline was a late arrival compared with the rest of Latin America; (2) it was only established on a professional basis after the inauguration of the authoritarian regime in 1964, and (3) its expansion accompanied the institutional development of post-graduate university centers.

A preliminary analysis of disciplinary institutionalization requires taking note of temporal variations in the creation of scientific associations. With regard to political science, the formation of scientific associations follows the trend towards greater specialization [31] and disciplinary autonomy, with a strict boundary line being drawn to distinguish it from other subject areas (Almond 1996; Goodin and Klingeman 1996; Dogan 1996; Goodin 2009). When this process is viewed from a comparative perspective, no temporal discrepancies are found when comparing political science associations with the traditional areas of the social sciences. In the United States, the foundation of the American Anthropological Association (1902), the American Political Science Association (1903) and the American Sociological Association (1905) occurred at almost the same time. In the case of France, although the country experienced a gradual decoupling of political science and sociology, (Favre and Legavre 1998; Grawitz and Leca 1985; Favre 1985), the Association Française de Science Politique [the French Association of Political science] was formed in 1949, before the foundation of the Societé Française de Sociologie [French Sociological Society ] (1962) or its replacement the Association Française de Sociologie, [the French Sociological Association] which was only formed in 2002. Although this was late when compared with the Argentinian Anthropological Society (1936) and the Argentinian Society of Political Analysis 1982, it is a long time before the Argentinian Association of Sociology in 2009 1. In the case of Chile, the Chilean Political Science Association has its origins in 1966 (suspended during the period of the authoritarian military regime, only to be restored in 1983) while the 6th Chiliean Congress of Sociology was held in 2014. On the question of international associations, there were simultaneous occurrences: both the International Political Science Association (IPSA), and the International Sociological Association (ISA) were founded in the same year, 1949.

From an examination of the chronological formation of Brazilian associations in neighboring disciplines, it can be seen that there is a temporal gap that separates the foundation of the scientific associations of sociology and anthropology on the one hand and the political sciences on the other – which confirms once again that there was a delay in creating the Brazilian Political Science Association [ABCP]. Although the Brazilian Society of Sociology was established in 1948, its first congress was only held 6 years later in 1954, while the foundation of the Brazilian Association of Anthropology dates back to 1955, after its first congress had been held two years earlier in 1953. However, it was only three decades later that the Brazilian Political Science Association appeared in 1986, and a further ten years passed before its first congress was held on the premises of Cândido Mendes University in 1996.

The delay in the deployment of political science in Brazil is corroborated noting the temporal gap that is found in Latin America, when the information on the dates for the origins of the scientific associations in the region, is collated (Freidenberg 2015; Marenco 2014):


Graphic 1: Year of creation of political science associations in Latin American countries
Source: Freidenberg 2015; Marenco 2014


[32] Graphic 2: Number of doctorates in Political Science and International Relations, Brazil
Source: CAPES

The setting up of the Department of Political Science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in 1966, and three years later, the first post-graduate studies programs at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ) ushered in a new era for treating this subject-area in a professional way in Brazil. Following this, a Master´s course was set up at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) (1973). A year after, this Master´s course was accompanied by the first PhD degree course in Political science in the country, at the University of São Paulo and there was a further Master´s course at Unicamp. However, the pattern of post-graduate courses grew very gradually and the second doctoral course at the University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ) was only introduced in 1980. It was another 16 years before a third PhD course was created at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul UFRGS, in 1996. Thus thirty years after the “inauguration” of post-graduate studies in political science, there were only three programs with training at a degree level. In the Master´s courses, the pace was no different and the threshold of ten courses was only breached in 1994; in the whole of the decade that followed, only four new Master´s courses were added to those already running, while the number of PhD courses doubled from three to six.

The post-graduate system and the setting up of centers devoted to the preparation of Master´s and Doctorate courses in political science were essential for spreading this subject through the country at a professional level. The employability of the PhD students who were prepared in the main centers of post-graduate studies in Brazil, is evidence of the recognition of the high standard of these professional graduates in political science in Brazil. Data from the Center for Strategic Research and Management, based on a) the titration data of CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) and b) data on employment and income supplied by the Minister of Labor, make it possible to estimate the proportion of doctoral students employed on 31st December, 2014, in the same year of their graduation.

In showing evidence that the employability of doctoral students was at a high rate, it is worth noting that 71 % of the doctoral students completing a degree course in 2014, were employed in the same year that they graduated. With regard to the National Classification of Economic Activities (CNAE) of employers´ organizations, 75.9 % of doctors in political science and international relations were employed in educational activities and 8.3 % in public administration. With regard to the Brazilian classification of occupations, an equivalent amount of 15.7 % of Master´s degree students and 12.9

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