Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

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Prof Cristian Vaccari

Photo of Prof Cristian Vaccari

Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

Professor of Political Communication

Cristian Vaccari joined Loughborough University in January 2018 as Reader in Political Communication and a member of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.


Cristian studies political communication in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital media. His research investigates how political parties, campaign organizations and citizens engage with one another on digital media, and how in the process they negotiate meanings, identities, resources, and, ultimately, power.


Cristian’s research received awards by the American Political Science Association for two consecutive years for the best article published in the fields of Political Communication (in 2016, for an article on dual screening televised political debates coauthored with Andrew Chadwick and Ben O’Loughlin) and Information Technology and Politics (in 2017, for a single-authored article on online mobilization in comparative perspective).


Together with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna), Cristian is currently working on a book provisionally titled Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, under contract with Oxford University Press (expected publication date 2020). Based on unique, custom-built survey data on samples representative of internet users across a diverse sample of nine Western democracies, the book argues that social media are redefining the ways in which citizens encounter and engage with political information and that, overall, these changes have positive implications for political participation in Western democracies. The book is one of the main outputs of a three-year comparative research project on social media and political participation funded by the Italian Ministry of Education with more than 900,000 Euros, for which Cristian served as Principal Investigator between 2013 and 2016.


Cristian’s first book, titled Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), shed light on how parties structure their online presence to inform and mobilize citizens, and on how citizens use the internet to gather political information in seven Western democracies (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) between 2006 and 2010. Cristian’s research has been published across the main journals in the field, including Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Political Communication, International Journal of Press/Politics, Information, Communication & Society, and International Journal of Communication. Cristian is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Language and Politics and serves in the editorial committee of Comunicazione Politica (ComPol), the leading Italian journal in political communication. Cristian is also the book reviews editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics.


In 2017, Cristian was elected Program chair (2019) and Section chair (2020) of the Information Technology and Politics section of the American Political Science Association. He previously served in leading administrative roles at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Bologna, and New York University in Florence.  Cristian has been a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and American University. He also maintains an unpaid affiliation with the University of Bologna.


Cristian has worked in advisory and training capacities with political institutions, political parties, campaign organizations, trade unions, business organizations, civil society groups, and think tanks. Since 2015, he has served as analyst for Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press annual reports. He has been interviewed by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and by French, Italian, Spanish, and Swiss media. He has authored articles for the Washington Post.


Cristian has overseen three PhD completions and is interested in supervising doctoral research in a wide range of topics in political communication, based on a variety of methodological approaches and disciplinary backgrounds.