Qualitative Political Communication Research
May 22, 2014 – 8:00am-5:00pm
Department of Communication, University of Washington (room TBD)
Since the publication of W. Lance Bennett and Shanto Iyengar’s 2008 critique of the state of the field, an increasing number of political communication and journalism researchers have cited the need for theory-building aimed at improving our understanding of communication processes in rapidly changing social and technological contexts. To date, however, scholars have generally overlooked the methodological underpinnings of the current stasis in the field, and have failed to engage seriously with both the limitations of existing tools such as surveys and experiments, as well as the potential benefits of mixed methods and qualitative work more broadly.
This pre-conference will focus on how qualitative research can lead to new analytical and empirical understandings of contemporary political communication processes, from the changing forms of journalism and campaigns to the new platforms and contexts where citizens gather and create political information. This pre-conference defines ‘qualitative research’ to be rigorous inquiry into political communication processes through an established set of empirical methods including (but not limited to): participant observation, ethnography, interviewing, archival research, and content analysis. It similarly defines ‘political communication’ broadly to include studies of the institutional (campaigns, legislative bodies, the presidency, the press, civil society organizations) and extra-institutional (movements) actors, events, and processes that constitute democratic life.
We are looking for submissions that are methodologically-oriented or present original research. For the former, we are looking for articles that discuss possible research designs as well as the potentials for and challenges of qualitative work in political communication. For example, this can include articles on the value of and issues with conducting fieldwork on campaigns or ethnographic work on how citizens approach political dialogue. For the latter, we are looking for articles that present original research on political communication and utilize qualitative methods.
We hope that this pre-conference will create an identifiable community of diverse and inter-disciplinary scholars working on similar substantive concerns and using a shared set of qualitative methods for empirical inquiry.
Extended abstracts (up to 500 words) should be submitted via email to David Karpf by December 1st.
The organizers – David Karpf, Daniel Kreiss, Matthew Powers, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen – will make decisions on accepted papers by December 20th. Full papers will be due in advance of the pre-conference on May 10, 2014.
8:00 – 8:30am
Arrival and coffee
8:30 – 8:45am
Welcome from the organizers
8:45 – 10:15am
PANEL I: Reviewed submissions, empirical papers
DISCUSSANT: Kirsten Foot (University of Washington)
10:30 – 12:00pm
Panel II: Reviewed submissions, methodological papers
DISCUSSANT: Rodney Benson (New York University)
12:00 – 12:30pm
12:30 – 1:30pm
Keynote Panel: Qualitative Political Communication Research: Strengths, Limitations, and the Potential for Theory Building
1:30 – 2:45pm
Panel III: Reviewed submissions, empirical papers
2:45 – 3:00pm
3:00 – 4:30pm
Panel IV: Reviewed submissions, methodological papers