A range of projects funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), in which Prof. Martin Emmer was significantly involved, provided the basis for the currently planned research within our division. In these projects - conducted between 2001 and 2010 - it has been explored, which impact the spread of the Internet has on political communication and participation behavior of German citizens. Extensive information about this research (list of publications about this project, presentations of the lectures, questionnaires used) can be found on the website of the project. In 2011, the results were summarized in the book "Citizens Online" („Bürger online”), published by the academic publishing house UVK.
The aim of the projects was to investigate how Germans use the potential of the Internet for political information, communication and participation. Research issues such as the impact of digital media on the former patterns of media usage and communication were pursued (e. g. the use of the Internet for gathering political information). Due to the longitudinal design of the research project, it could produce reliable data of the changes that occurred through the years. Moreover, the researchers of the projects gained insight into the causes and effects of these changes. In particular, the panel design distinguished the research findings of the project from all other sources of data on the use of digital media in Germany.
A representative sample of the German citizens (German speaking population from the age of 16) was interviewed in a standardized survey. For this purpose, in 2002 approx. 1.500 people were randomly selected. These individuals were interviewed on the phone annually (so-called “panel design“). To compensate for the so-called “panel mortality”, small new samples were created and added to the panel every year.