Cristian Vaccari

Professor Cristian Vaccari

  • Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture
  • Professor of Political Communication

Cristian Vaccari (PhD, IULM University in Milan, 2006) is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University. He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital and social media. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics and a rapporteur of the Committee of Experts on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies of the Council of Europe.

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.

Since January 2019, Cristian has been the Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Press/Politics, an interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of the media and politics in a globalized world. The journal publishes theoretical and empirical research which analyzes the linkages between the news media and political processes and actors around the world, emphasizes international and comparative work, and links research in the fields of political communication and journalism studies, and the disciplines of political science and media and communication. The journal is ranked 4th by Scopus (SJR) and 12th by Journal Citation Reports in Communication.

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.

Professor Vaccari teaches modules exploring the relationships between media, politics, and citizenship, with a particular focus on digital media in international and comparative perspective. Professor Vaccari's teaching combines theories and approaches from political science, media and communication, psychology, and sociology, and brings together theoretical, empirical, and applied perspectives to equip students with critical skills and practical knowledge.

Cristian 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.

Current postgraduate research students

  • Harvey Dodds: “A Study of Social Class Signalling on Social Media and its Impacts”
  • Amber Macintyre: “Surveilling the Surveillants: Organizational Practices, Democratic Debate, and the Ethical Challenges of the Political Monitoring of Citizens.”
  • Rachel Armitage: “Correcting Misinformation and Disinformation on Social Media.”
  • Andrew Ross: "Understanding the technological democratisation of public opinion cues."

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Nikki Soo: “MPs on Standby: Representations and Repair in Everyday MP-Constituent Performance."
  • Ornella Urso: "The framing of immigration in Italy and Spain. A newspaper content analysis, 1995-2011.”
  • Diego Ceccobelli: “Political leaders on Facebook: A comparative analysis on popularization in contemporary liberal democracies.”
  • M. L., Miller, C. Vaccari (2020). Digital threats to democracy: comparative lessons and possible remedies. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 25(3), 333-356, DOI: 10.1177/1940161220922323

  • C. Vaccari, A. Chadwick (2020). ‘Deepfakes and Disinformation: Exploring the Impact of Synthetic Political Video on Confusion and Trust in News’. Social Media + Society, 6(1), DOI: 10.1177/2056305120903408.
  • C. Vaccari, K. Smets, O. Heath (2020). ‘The United Kingdom 2017 election: polarisation in a split issue space’. West European Politics, 43(3), pp. 587-609, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2019.1655961
  • C. Vaccari, A. Valeriani (2018). ‘Dual Screening, Public Service Broadcasting, and Political Participation in Eight Western Democracies’. International Journal of Press/Politics, 23(3), pp. 367-388, DOI: 10.1177/1940161218779170
  • A. Chadwick, C. Vaccari, B. O’Loughlin (2018). ‘Do tabloids poison the well of social media? Explaining democratically dysfunctional news sharing’. New Media & Society, 20(11), pp. 4255-4274, DOI: 10.1177/1461444818769689
  • A. Valeriani, C. Vaccari (2018). ‘Political Talk on Mobile Instant Messaging Services: A Comparative Analysis of Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom’. Information, Communication & Society, 21(11), pp. 1715-1731, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2017.1350730
  • C. Vaccari (2017). ‘Online Mobilization in Comparative Perspective: Digital Appeals and Political Engagement in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom’. Political Communication, 34(1), pp. 69-88, DOI: 10.1080/10584609.2016.1201558
  • C. Vaccari, A. Valeriani (2016). ‘Party Campaigners or Citizen Campaigners? How Social Media Deepen and Broaden Party-Related Engagement’. International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(3), pp. 294-312, DOI: 10.1177/1940161216642152