La participation politique en ligne : une source de renforcement ou un coup fatal envers les partis politiques ?

Online participation in the context of political parties has been studied largely in regard to the supply of opportunities rather than the demand and uptake by members for a long time. Typical of this type of work are the numerous studies that have examined the functions of party websites using a variant of the Gibson and Ward coding scheme (2000). The schemas have been updated over time to accommodate the emergence of online social networks and innovations such as the specialist campaign site (MyBO.com) built by Barack Obama in 2008. The move toward understanding the experience of these online spaces for users and political participation itself has become an increasing focus of interest.
To undertake this work brings challenges however. Firstly, the numbers involved in online party participation and web campaigning, are small which limits the impact that this type of online participation can have. Furthermore, such engagement is generally found among those people who are already interested in politics and, even more, more or less integrated to existing parties, recent data tending to confirm previous studies (Cantijoch et al. 2012 ; Vedel and Greffet, 2011). In addition, the type of citizen participation that is possible via social media does not necessary fit best within formal party and campaign channels. Recent research has shown that a potentially new type of online participation may be emerging that is more expressive, informal and ‘sharing’ in character (Gibson and Cantijoch, 2013). As well as challenging existing models of participation, therefore, the new types of engagement may actually create a new channel of more direct activism that and a way for people to express their disaffection for parties? The extent to which digital media are helping to revive, reinforce or actually threaten the existence of political parties is one that we seek to address here from a theoretical and empirical basis drawing on our research work and secondary literature.