Tobias Escher is a Research Fellow at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf in Germany where he is involved in a research effort to analyse the requirements and consequences of internet-mediated cooperative norm setting. He is also completing his DPhil in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. Tobias has interests in citizen-government relationships online (eDemocracy, eGovernment) – in particular their evaluation, in political representation as well as e-Social Science research methods.
Before coming to Oxford he has been working as a Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science at University College London. Tobias holds a Masters degree in Globalisation and Communications from the University of Leicester. In addition he has an extensive background in Media and Communication Studies as well as Computer Science from Freie Universität Berlin.
My academic work is focused primarily on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for politics, both from a government perspective (eGeovernment) as well as from a citizen perspective (eDemocracy, eParticipation). I also develop tools to collect and analyse data from the Web.
My doctoral research is an empirical analysis of German and UK e-democracy websites, assessing whether they bring in people not otherwise involved in political debate, or whether they simply reinforce the influence of those already active in politics. By taking a comparative perspective involving Germany and the UK this work aims to assess the potential of online contacts between citizens and representatives for reducing biases in political participation patterns and in this way for contributing to more equal political representation. My case studies are WriteToThem.com in the UK and Abgeordnetenwatch.de in Germany.
Beyond my doctoral research I have (co)produced a number of reports evaluating efforts in electronic participation. These include work for the German Parliament (evaluating its platform for online petitions; with Zebralog), the UK National Audit Office (evaluating the online presence of UK government; with Prof. Helen Margetts as well as the Public Policy Group of LSE), the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit (research of the “Power of Information” report) and for mySociety, a not-for-profit whose evaluation efforts I am currently leading. I am also teaching on the subject of the Internet and democracy.
- 2010 Scholarship for Doctoral Studies FAZIT-Foundation (£6,000)
- 2008/09 Ian Palmer Scholarship from Keble College Oxford (£2,000)
- 2007/08 PGP scholarship at the Oxford Internet Institute (£10,000)
- 2007/08 Ian Palmer Scholarship from Keble College Oxford (£2,000)
- 2007 E-Social Science Conference, Ann Arbour (MI) (£1,200)
- 2003/04 scholarship of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for study in UK (£6,500)
- European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Standing Group on Internet and Politics
- European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)
- Netzdemokraten e.V.
- quantitative statistical analysis (including software packages R & SPSS)
- surveys (online & offline)
- social science experiments
- focus groups
- social network analysis / webmetrics (e.g. using Pajek)
- web technologies (HTML, CSS, WordPress)
- databases (MySQL, MS Access)