Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

21st Century Democracy

How is our democracy adapting to the potential of the Internet?

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Most of my research in this area has examined the impact of the Internet on the relationship between citizens and their representatives.

The Connecting to Congress project, which I’ve led with Kevin Esterling and Michael Neblo, has focused on how Members of Congress have (and have not) utilized the Internet, and also conducted field experiments to examine the impact of online townhalls on citizens.

21st Century Democracy: Publications List

Publications list

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, “Means, Motive, & Opportunity in Becoming Informed About Politics: A Deliberative Field Experiment with Members of Congress and Their Constituents,” Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming.

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, “Estimating Treatment Effects in the Presence of Noncompliance and Nonresponse: The Generalized Endogenous Treatment Model”, Political Analysis, forthcoming.

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, Connecting to Constituents: The Diffusion of Representation Practices among Congressional Websites, Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming.

M. Binz-Scharf, D. Lazer, and I. Mergel,  Searching for answers: Networks of Practice among Public Administrators. American Review of Public Administration, 41(2), 2012: 202-225.

K. Esterling, D. Lazer, and M. Neblo, “Representative Communication: Website Interactivity & Distributional Path Dependence in the U.S. Congress,” Political Communication, 28, 2011:  409-439.

D. Lazer, K. Esterling and M. Neblo, “The Internet and the Madisonian Cycle:  Possibilities and Prospects for Consultative Representation,” in S. Coleman and P. Shane, Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication.  MIT Press, 2011. 

D. Lazer, I. Mergel, C. Ziniel, K. Esterling, and M. Neblo, “The multiple institutional logics of innovation,” International Public Management Journal, 14, 2011: 311-340.

 M. Neblo, K. Esterling, R. Kennedy, D. Lazer, and A. Sokhey, Who wants to deliberate—and Why,” American Political Science Review 104(3), 2010:  566-583.
Awarded Heinz Eulau award for best paper in the APSR in 2010.

 V. Mayer-Schönberger, and D. Lazer, Governance and Information Technology. From Electronic Government to Information Government, MIT press 2007

V. Mayer-Schönberger, and D. Lazer, Governance and Information Technology: From Electronic Government to Information Government, MIT press: 2007.

Developments in information and communication technology and networked computing over the past two decades have given rise to the notion of electronic government, most commonly used to refer to the delivery of public services over the Internet. This volume argues for a shift from the narrow focus of "electronic government"...more at MIT Press. Purchase from Amazon, B&N.

Report
Publication date: 
01/2019
Authors: 
David Lazer
Matthew Baum
Nir Grinberg
Lisa Friedland
Kenneth Joseph
Will Hobbs
Carolina Mattsson

Recent shifts in the media ecosystem raise new concerns about the vulnerability of democratic societies to fake news and the public's limited ability to contain it. Fake news as a form of misinformation benefits from the fast pacae that information travels in today's media ecosystem, in particular across social media platforms.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
01/2019
Authors: 
Nir Grinberg
Kenneth Joseph
Lisa Friedland
Briony Swire Thompson
David Lazer

The spread of fake news on social media became a public concern in the United States after the 2016 presidential election. We examined exposure to and sharing of fake news by registered voters on Twitter and found that engagement with fake news sources was extremely concentrated. Only 1% of individuals accounted for 80% of fake news source exposures, and 0.1% accounted for nearly 80% of fake news sources shared.

OP ED
Publication date: 
12/2018
Authors: 
Michael Neblo
Kevin Esterling
David Lazer

OPINION - At the end of the movie "The Candidate," Robert Redford's character wins a Senate seat, and then immediately pulls aside his most trusted adviser and asks, "What do we now?" After the divisive election of 2018, we imagine that many newly elected members of Congress are pondering the same question.

Journal Article
© heikenz 2019
Publication date: 
02/2018
Authors: 
David Lazer

The rise of fake news highlights the erosion of long-standing institutional bulwarks against misinformation in the internet age. Concern over the problem is global. However, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and society to manipulations by malicious actors. A new system of safeguards is needed.

Keywords: 
Fake News
Journal Article
Publication date: 
11/2017
Authors: 
Yu-Ru Lin
Ryan P. Kennedy
David Lazer

We examine the social antecedents of contributing to campaigns, with a particular focus on the role of population density and social networking opportunities.

Keywords: 
Fundraising
social networks
campaigns
spatial models
Journal Article
Publication date: 
08/2015
Authors: 
Drew B. Margolin
Brian Keegan
Sasha Goodman
Yu-Ru Lin
David Lazer

The use of socio-technical data to predict elections is a growing research area. We argue that election prediction research suffers from under-specified theoretical models that do not properly distinguish between 'poll-like' and 'prediction market-like' mechanisms understand findings.

Keywords: 
election prediction
crowdsourcing
Wikipedia
politics
social media
communication studies
OP ED
Publication date: 
08/2015
Authors: 
David Lazer
Oren Tsur
Katherine Ognyanova
Ryan P. Kennedy

While numerous political commentators have offered up their opinion about who won or lost last week's GOP debate, we here at the Lazer Lab at Northeastern University spent the last week looking at the numbers. Actually, we looked at the words: What did candidates actually talk about? How much did they talk, and for how long? The answers gave us three new ways to think about what mattered in the debate, and who won.

OP ED
Publication date: 
05/2014
Authors: 
David Lazer

It's too easy to be led astray by the lure of big data.

Google Flu Trends has long been the go-to example for anyone asserting the revolutionary potential of big data. Since 2008 the company has claimed it could use counts of flu-related Web searches to forecast flu outbreaks weeks ahead of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

OP ED
Publication date: 
04/2017
Authors: 
David Lazer
Michael Neblo

In politics, it's become conventional wisdom that talking seriously to regular Americans doesn't really pay off. Numerous studies have found that citizens appear to dig in their heels, resisting information that contradicts their beliefs - if they're informed enough to have meaningful beliefs in the first place.