The “Electronic Democracy” (DEL) network seeks to publicize and to enhance research questioning the links between democratic and political processes with digital networks and technologies.
Meetings and workshops allow to discuss these research and studies from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. DEL is linked to the research centre named CEDITEC at the University of Paris Est Créteil (France) and under the scientific supervision of Stephanie Wojcik.

End of the DEL network

Dear members of the DEL network,

The landscape of research on the relationships between politics and digital in which DEL network finds itself today has evolved considerably since the creation of the network in 2002. Back then Gérard Loiseau and I observed, for France, a sparse, scattered research, invested by certain disciplines rather than by others, and almost inaudible on an international scale. Certain research themes, which have now disappeared, were then favored (for example, electronic voting), others in their infancy (for example, Internet practices by political parties), and others little explored back then (for example digital activism).
Contrary to what could already be observed in Anglo-Saxon research, academic research in France did not seem to carry strong theses (such as, for example, the idea that the Internet in no way contributes to weakening the political and social inequalities which traditionally burden political participation) likely to posit the Internet as a valuable object for one or more disciplines.

Consequently, at the institutional level, studies on such themes then have little opportunity to be presented and discussed, unless it was possible to hang on to more “legitimate” or traditional themes of a particular sub-discipline (for example, in political communication).

Obviously, I paint here a very fragmented picture whose a priori not very exciting character does not do justice to the quality and dynamism of all the researchers who, starting or carrying on with an academic career, have taken an occasional or long-term interest in the political Internet, which then seemed little identified, and whose contours remain controversial.

For many years, and although we were of course not the only ones, Gérard and I have been run this research network, through three colloquiums (2002, 2005 and 2013), workshops and seminars (the “December Meetings”) that we organized very regularly. From 2008, several research centres – including my affiliate laboratory, CEDITEC of the University of Paris Est Créteil – have provided us with strong support. Not to mention the less formal support from other laboratories, such as, for example, COSTECH at the University of Technology of Compiègne, or ELICO at the University of Lyon. Later, the initial two-person team grew with the constitution of an organizational team made up of young researchers who breathed new life into the network’s activities.

With the extension of digital technologies in all areas of social life, but also the development of the interest of political and institutional actors themselves, academic research has gradually taken up a multiplicity of issues and was able to integrate these into the traditional spaces of scientific discussion (laboratories, seminars, conferences, etc.) and education (opening of ad hoc digital training courses). Digital technologies are now institutionally recognized. There are the creation of dedicated research spaces (for example at the National Scientific Research Centre), the creation of specific teacher-researcher positions, the funding of research projects and the ever-renewed commitment of young doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. Role of social networks in elections or the dissemination of false and fake news, place of major Internet players in the regulation of online content, public policies and the digital transformation of States, extension of activist action repertoires : current or forthcoming topics are innumerable and can now be discussed often in a multidisciplinary, or at least a less compartmentalized, manner than in the early 2000s.

At the same time, the multiplicity of rooms for discussion – although it is of course an undeniable sign of dynamism – has sometimes led to somewhat sparse seminars of the DEL network. Likewise, the original format of the network’s seminars (which began with a discussion of a paper or a book in the presence of its author, who was invited to comment) gradually ran out of steam. Above all, exchanges between researchers and projects that DEL may have helped to establish and develop now take place independently – and that’s good – of the network.

That is why, and because I can hardly devote to energizing the network in an original way, I have decided to put a definitive end to the activities of the DEL network, that I have scientifically led since 2013.

DEL was a great experience and I do hope that, as a member of the network, you have also been able to benefit from it.

On December 7, the hosting of the DEL website and its related content will end and will therefore no longer be accessible. Mailing lists that are currently no longer accepting members and are no longer lively will be deleted at the end of the year, as well as the Twitter account.

We will certainly meet again elsewhere. To all of you, I wish an excellent continuation!

Kind regards,
Stephanie Wojcik

Network activity

  • DEL workshops: 2016-2017 programme
  • Séminaire DEL du 31 mai 2018 : "Discussing the News" avec Simon Smith et Coralie Le Caroff
  • (Français) Séminaire DEL@Lyon du 16 mars 2018 : "Internet, jeunesse et participation dans le monde chinois"
  • Programme des Rencontres DEL Décembre 2017
  • Séminaire DEL du 9 novembre 2017 16h30-18h30 "Mieux connaître les pratiques politiques des internautes"