Digitalizing Youth Politics

While digital communication might enhance democratic processes, it is important to keep in mind digital divides in representation of political content as well as that online politics are not detached from the ‘material world’. Against this backdrop, our project seeks to analyse the online political participation of first-time voters during the municipal elections in Lower Austria 2020. Our project is particularly interested in the following question: How do first-time voters participate in democratic processes, how to they appropriate the public sphere and what potential does social media bear to widen the public democratic sphere? We elaborate on these questions focusing on three empirical research areas, which reflect the relation between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ communication:

- Digital lifeworlds and political participation of first-time voters

- Online communication of political party actors (with a focus on twitter)

- Communication of local mass media

We analyse and compare the three areas with regard to their topics, frames (meaning making) and language styles. In this regard, we especially focus on the role of emotions in shaping the discursive framings of political topics. The comparative approach allows us to analyse the links between the topics of first-time voters, media and political parties or representatives of parties. This will allow for conclusions on how online communication enhances participation in democratic processes and which chances and obstacles it poses for widening the public sphere, especially with regard to young citizens in the context of smaller cities and rural areas. The interdisciplinary project – situated at the intersection of political science, e-governance, media and digital sociology and social work –  aims at contributing to a better understanding of the relation between youth and political establishment in times of digitalization.

Team DED


  • 27.11. Kick-off Meeting Project Team at Campus Krems
  • 01.01. Start of field research
  • 10.01. Workshop High School City of Baden
  • 13.01. Workshop High School City of Horn

Project partner

Funding institutions

The project team gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the NÖ Forschungs- und Bildungsges.m.b.H. (NFB) and the provincial government of Lower Austria through the (Life) Science Calls (FTI18-001).



Duration 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2021
Funding Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)
Program FTI Digitalisierung
FTI Programm Niederösterreich GFNÖ

Department for European Policy and the Study of Democracy

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Mag. Dr. Edma Ajanovic
Project members
Mag. Dr. Katharina Fritsch, BA
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Guérot


Ajanovic, E.; Fritsch, K. (2023). Framing Covid-19 through memes: a way for young people to shape the narrative in Austria. Journal of Youth Studies, Online (first):

Lampoltshammer, T.J.; De Luca, G.; Thurnay, L. (2023). Digital News and Political Tweets in the Lower Austrian Municipal Elections: A Case Study on Digital Journalism and Political Communication. Social Sciences, 12(1): 1-20

Back to top