Professor Helen Margetts has been awarded an ESRC Professorial Fellowship for ‘The Internet and Political Science: re-examining collective action, governance and citizen-government interactions in the digital era’ for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2014.

The aim of this research is to assess:

  • Where political science understanding, knowledge and theory should be re-examined and developed in light of widespread use of the Internet;
  • To develop methodologies to study online behaviour including use of the Internet to generate new data and experiments; and
  • To build theory and understanding of internet-mediated interactions at both individual and organizational levels.

First, the project will re-examine the logic of collective action, assessing the impact of reduced communication, coordination and transaction costs; the changing nature of leadership; and the effects of real-time social information on political mobilization. This part of the research will involve conducting laboratory and field experiments into online behaviour, investigating the effect of different information environments on propensity to participate.

Second, the research will develop the Digital-era Governance model for newer ‘Web 2.0’ applications and other technological developments such as cloud computing, investigating where such applications have brought citizens into the ‘front-office’ of government. The research will re-examine the nature of citizen-government interactions in this changing environment, examining the impact of Internet-based mediation on information exchange, transparency and citizen participation in policy-making. This part of the research will involve a comparison of government’s online presence in eight countries, using webmetric techniques, and in-depth qualitative analysis of governance models, using elite interviewing and documentary analysis.

Helen Margetts is Professor of Society and the Internet in the Oxford Internet Institute, Professorial Fellow of Mansfield College, co-director of the social science experimental laboratory OxLab and Editor of the journal Policy and Internet. Research and publications are available at


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