Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Platform Party between Digital Activism and Hyper-Leadership: The Reshaping of the Public Sphere

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Abstract:  The so-called crisis of representation has formed the theoretical framework of many studies on media and democracy of the past thirty years. Many researches have highlighted the crisis of legitimacy and credibility of the ‘traditional’ parties (Katz & Mair, 2018) and communication was considered, at the same time, one of the causes of acceleration towards post-representative politics (Keane, 2013) but also an indispensable tool for re-connecting citizens to politics. Various phenomena have developed within this framework: a) the birth of political aggregations as a result of mobilization in the digital ecosystem; b) the development of digital platforms for democratic participation; c) the birth of parties defined as ‘digital’ or ‘platform’; and d) the growing centrality of digital political activism, both as a phenomenon within the digital communicative ecosystem (also in the context of social media) and as a result of the transformation of social movements. This article studies the role of platform parties as a space for the emergence of authoritarian tendencies (hyper-leadership) but also as an organizational opportunity for the development of new forms of digital activism. In particular, the article presents a research on the use of digital platforms (and their political and organizational consequences) by political parties in Italy, France, and Spain. The study shows the relationships between the evolution of digital ecosystems and the way in which political organization is organised, also highlighting how the new forms of mobilization and aggregation have opened up different yet interconnected public spaces.

Keywords:  digital activism; digital ecosystem; platform party; post-representative democracy; public sphere



© Emiliana De Blasio, Lorenzo Viviani. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.