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Presentation and objectives of the research

The research project, PARTICIPATE, is supported and financed by the European Research Council and is led by Julia Cagé, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics of Sciences Po (the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques and Institut d’études politiques de Paris).

The goal of PARTICIPATE is to develop a comprehensive approach to the study of campaign finance, information and influence, using new individual-level data and investigating recent changes in participation behaviors. What are the motives behind small campaign contributions? Does tax policy affect political giving? Why are so few politicians from the working class and can this change? What is the ability of the media to induce citizens to make electoral decisions they would not make if reporting were unbiased? While there is evidence at the macro level on the flow of money in elections, news consumption, or the extent of charitable giving, relatively little is known at the micro level, e.g. on individual-level behaviours such as the motivations of small donors, the tax-price elasticity of political donations, or the exposure to competing information flows. PARTICIPATE will help fill this gap. By providing groundbreaking evidence on new forms of participation, it will lead to the reassessment of influential theories of special interest groups and policy formation. One distinguishing feature of the proposal is to combine comprehensive individual-level datasets and the use of computer sciences tools (such as natural language processing techniques and machine learning).

PARTICIPATE will advance the existing research in three steps. First, I will propose a unified analysis of political contributions. This will include a groundbreaking assessment of the importance of small campaign donations, and a combined study of charitable giving and political contributions investigating the impact of tax policy on donations. Fundraising success can lead to the emergence of new candidates. I will then consider citizens’ decision to run for elections, and investigate the role played by network in political selection. Finally, given the importance of media organizations in shaping participation, I will study the changing patterns of information propagation and political influence.

Data source / providers :

Project 1a: A new approach to small campaign contributions:

Project 1b: A combined study of charitable giving and political contributions:

Project 2: Running for elections? A network approach to political participation:

Project 3: Media power: information acquisition and political influence:

Data controller : Department of Economics of Sciences Po (the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques and Institut d’études politiques de Paris) and CNRS.

Legal basis :  Research for public interest ( GDPR art. 6.1.e)

Researchers part of the research team and data recipients with Julia Cagé:

Project 1a.        Vincent Pons (Harvard Business School),

Laurent Bouton (Georgetown University),

Edgard Dewitte (PhD student, Sciences Po Paris, Department of Economics)

Project 1b.         Malka Guillot (ETH Zürich);

Project 2.        Edgard Dewitte (PhD student, Sciences Po Paris, Department of Economics)

Project 3.        Nicolas Hervé (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel),

Béatrice Mazoyer (Sciences Po Paris, Medialab)

Risk for participants  and research methodology :

Data storage :

Data archive and duration : The data will be treated until 2025 in the Sciences Po current archives (until publication), then during 20 years, in a proper and sufficient manner for obtaining minimized, secured and definitely anonymized dataset. The data may also be stored in an European research repository (Open Science).

In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679, any person will be able to access their data, as well as remove it if possible. To do so, send an email to In case of difficulty, please contact the Sciences Po Data Protection Officer If your question is not answered properly, you can address a complaint to the French data protection authority (the CNIL).

Dernière mise à jour : 11/10/2020