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ISBN: HB: 9780674972339

Harvard University Press

May 2019

384 pp.

23.5x15.6 cm

4 illus., 13 tables

HB:
£21,95
QTY:

Revolution That Wasn't

How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives

The internet has been hailed as a leveling force that is reshaping activism. From the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, digital activism seemed cheap, fast, and open to all. Now this celebratory narrative finds itself competing with an increasingly sinister story as platforms like Facebook and Twitter – once the darlings of digital democracy – are on the defensive for their role in promoting fake news. While hashtag activism captures headlines, conservative digital activism is proving more effective on the ground.

In this sharp-eyed and counterintuitive study, Jen Schradie shows how the web has become another weapon in the arsenal of the powerful. She zeroes in on workers' rights advocacy in North Carolina and finds a case study with broad implications. North Carolina's hard-right turn in the early 2010s should have alerted political analysts to the web's antidemocratic potential: amid booming online organizing, one of the country's most closely contested states elected the most conservative government in North Carolina's history.

"The Revolution That Wasn't" identifies the reasons behind this previously undiagnosed digital-activism gap. Large hierarchical political organizations with professional staff can amplify their digital impact, while horizontally organized volunteer groups tend to be less effective at translating online goodwill into meaningful action. Not only does technology fail to level the playing field, it tilts it further, so that only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete.

About the Author

Jen Schradie is a sociologist and Assistant Professor at the Observatoire sociologique du changement at Sciences Po in Paris. Her work has been featured on CNN and the BBC and in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, Time, the Daily Beast, and Buzzfeed, among other media. She was awarded the Public Sociology Alumni Prize at University of California, Berkeley, and has directed six documentary films.