The party-on-the-Net: the digital face of partisan organization and activism

Peña, Alejandro M.; Gold, Tomás
Information, Communication & Society

In this article we theorize a new organizational face of political parties that we term the ‘party-on-the-net’, defined as a set of digital partisan activist roles enabled by the affordances of digital technologies. We first explain the conceptual advantages of understanding parties’ media hybridization as an organizational face rather than as a specific party subtype. Then, we provide a taxonomy of digital partisan roles comprising the party-on-the-net and its links with traditional party bureaucracies and functions. We define and discuss ten roles on the basis of two general organizational variables, namely functional alignment with party structures and influence over core party decisions. Finally, after illustrating each of these roles through examples across different geographical regions, we consider how our framework can help scholars to develop hypotheses for further empirical scrutiny. We focus on the relative prevalence of the party-on-the-net within subtypes of digital parties, its relation to other organizational faces, and its development under different institutional scope conditions.