The Centre on Social Movement Studies


PiCME – Political participation in Complex Media Environments


Alice Mattoni, Emiliano Treré, and Diego Ceccobelli





PiCME – Political participation in Complex Media Environments investigates political participation in complex media environments. It does so by looking at how mechanisms and processes of political participation evolve in complex media environments and the consequences within the political sphere at large and in relation to political actors in particular.

This is a crucial topic in contemporary societies, since profound changes in the media sphere have significant impact on how political participation develops today and will evolve in the near future. In the current media environment, political actors tend to interact with a variety of communication technologies, organizations, and professionals in the political sphere. In fact, political participation – from individual involvement to electoral campaigns and protest demonstrations – is intertwined with complex flows of communication, where older and newer media technologies and their logics dispute, collide, and, more often, combine.

However, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of how mechanisms and processes in political participation actually changed in complex media environments and with what consequences for the political sphere as well as the media sphere.

PiCME seeks to fill this void through an interdisciplinary methodology that integrates diverse research traditions from media studies, Internet studies, political science, and political sociology. In doing so, the research project employs an innovative approach that is:

1) Multi-dimensional: the empirical investigation will focus on four interrelated dimensions providing an holistic explanation of political participation in complex media environments: the infrastructures, imaginations, practices, and outcomes related to media technologies employed in the context of political participation;

2) Multi-level: the empirical investigation will address three interrelated levels of analysis seldom combined in studies on political participation: the micro-level of individual citizens who become politically active despite not being affiliated to collective political actors; the meso-level of collective political actors (i.e. political parties and social movements); and the macro-level of big (digital) media corporations that shape the architecture and the affordances of complex media environments;

3) Comparative: the empirical investigation will develop a cross-country comparison focusing on three Southern European countries: Italy, Spain, and Greece. In each country, the analysis will focus on case-studies in the realm of institutional politics and in the realm of non-institutional politics;

4) Mixed methods: the empirical research will combine different methodological traditions, including expert and in-depth interviewing; digital and non-digital ethnography; frame and discourse analysis; and statistical analysis.

*Original picture by Robin Iversen released under the CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic and here partially cut and modified with Gimp.



Funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research through the grant S.I.R. – Scientific Independence of young Researchers.

Codice Unico Progetto: E52I15000500001. Codice Cineca: RBSI14GUJE




"Standing up for Science" - a documentary by Dieter Rucht

A documentary by Dieter Rucht on the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C. - now available on YouTube.


COSMOS Talks Calendar - Second Semester 2018

Read here the full calendar of the COSMOS Talks Series


Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics

We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the 1st Summer School of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism & Democracy on ‘Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics’, sponsored by the Centre for Research on Extremism (C-REX), the European Council for Political Research (ECPR), and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).


Edited Volume - 2018

Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’. Contentious Moves

Donatella della Porta (ed.)
This edited volume ddresses a gap in research on social movements that has disregarded the origins of discontent and overlooks protest as a resource of the powerless; it offers insight into how the movement of refugees across the European Union and elsewhere activates political opportunities; it explores claims to citizenship made by refugees within processes of knowledge production and the mobilization of emotions

Journal Article - 2017

Reshaping Citizenship through Collective Action: Performative and Prefigurative Practices in the 2013–2014 Cycle of Contention in Bosnia & Hercegovina

Chiara Milan
This essay analyses the strategic practices adopted by social movement actors during the 2013 and 2014 mobilisations in Bosnia & Hercegovina. By bridging critical citizenship studies with literature on social movements, it classifies them as belonging to the realm of activist citizenship, but also as having a performative and prefigurative dimension.