Personalization of Politics

Course content

The increased importance of individuals at the expense of political groups such as parties has been labelled personalization of politics. Political personalization is the “process in which the political weight of the individual actor in the political process increases over time, while the centrality of the political group (i.e., political party) declines” (Rahat and Sheafer, 2007: 65). This is the focus of this course. We look into political personalization in different ways and study both the personalization of political participation, party membership, candidates, party leaders and MPs. We study individual political behavior, institutions and media coverage. And we study phenomenons facilitating personalization such as digitalization.


Bachelor student: 10 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome


  • On central concepts of phenomenons such as personalization, digitalisation.
  • The character of personalization of politics in multiple dimensions
  • The causes and consequences of the personalization of politics.



  • Understand and analyse current trends in parliamentary democracies.



  • Analyse the political behavior of voters, party affiliates, party leaders, MPs
  • Analyse institutions such as parties, parliaments.
  • Analyse media coverage and campaigning.

Flipped class room, power points, student participation, group work

Preliminary literature:


Adam, S. & Michaela M. 2010. “Personalization of Politics. A Critical Review and Agenda for Research,” in C. T. Salmon (ed.) Communication Yearbook 34. New York: Routledge, pp. 213-257.

’Balmas, M. et al. 2014. Two routes to personalized politics: Centralized and decentralized personalization, Party Politics, 20(1): 37-51

Bittner, A. 2011. Platform or Personality?: The Role of Party Leaders in Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blondel, J., J.L. Thiebault. 2010. Political Leadership, Parties and Citizens: The personalization of Leadership. London: Routledge.

Calise, Mauro. 2011. “Personalization of Politics,” in Bertrand Badie & Dirk Berg-Schlosser & Leonardo Morlino (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Political Science. London: SAGE.

Colomer, J. M. (ed.), 2011. Personal Representation: The Neglected Dimension of Electoral Systems. Colchester: ECPR Press

Cross, Bill et al. (udkommer i sept 2018)

Garzia, D. 2014. Personalization of Politics and Electoral Change. London: Palgrave.

Hermans, L. and M. Vergeer. 2013. “Personalization in e-campaigning: A cross-national comparison of personalization strategies used on candidate websites of 17 countries in EP elections 2009,” New Media & Society, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 72–92.

Hjarvard, S. 2008. ‘The Mediatization of Society. A Theory of the Media as Agents of Social and Cultural Change’, Nordicom Review, 29(2): 105-134.

Karvonen L. 2010. The Personalization of Politics: A Study of Parliamentary Democracies. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Kriesi, H. 2012. “Personalization of National Election Campaigns”, Party Politics, Vol. 18, No. 6, pp. 825-844.

Lobo, M.C. and J. Curtice (eds.). 2015. Personality Politics? The Role of Leader Evaluations in Democratic Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McAllister, I. 2007. “The Personalization of Politics,” in Russell J. Dalton and Hans-Dieter Klingemann (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Musella, F. 2015. “Personal Leaders and Party Change: Italy in Comparative Perspective,” Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp 227-247.

Poguntke, T. and P.Webb 2005. The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rahat, G. and T. Sheafer. 2007. The personalization(s) of Politics: Israel 1949-2003, Political Communication, 24(1): 65-80

Renwick, A. and Jean Benoit Pilet. 2016. Faces on the Ballot: The Personalization of Electoral Systems in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thomassen, J. and R. B. Andeweg 2004. ‘Beyond collective representation: individual members of parliament and interest representation in the Netherlands’, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 10(4): 47-69

Van Aelst, P., T. Sheafer and J. Stanyer 2011. The personalization of mediated political communication: A review of concepts, operationalizations and key findings, Journalism, 13(2): 203-220.

Van Aelst, P., T. Sheafer, N. Hube and Stylianos Papathanassopoulos. 2017. “Personalization,” in Claes de Vreese, Frank Esser and David N. Hopmann (eds.) Comparing political Journalism, London: Rotledge, pp. 112-130.

Wattenberg, M. P. 1991. The Rise of Candidate-centered Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28