Bridging Contentious and Electoral Politics: MoveOn and the Digital Revolution


Bridging Contentious and Electoral Politics: MoveOn and the Digital Revolution


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Netroots organizations are re-defining political struggle by providing the resources and environment necessary for political mobilizing, and are affecting the ways that parties and traditional groups now campaign, recruit, and fundraise. While there is no clear consensus in the social movement literature regarding information communication technology's (ICT's) influence on participation on political participation, campaigns, and parties, or on social movement participation more broadly, there is substantial agreement that the Net has increased information available for citizens and has changed the capacity for mobilization. The key question is if (and if so how) the increasing availability of information and more efficient mobilizing tactics enabled by the Internet translates into motivation, interest, and participation. As an electronic social movement organization (SMO), MoveOn has become one of the most successful advocacy operations in the digital era. This paper examines ways in which MoveOn has used the Internet and alternative forms of grassroots mobilization to fuse contentious politics with institutional means of reform via the electoral process. A case study of MoveOn is relevant to broader arguments regarding how the Internet is re-defining our understanding of mobilization and participatory politics, and demonstrates a shift in contentious politics and protest. The findings support the arguments in the literature that information sharing electronically can lead to a more informed citizenry, yet goes beyond previous research by suggesting that this refers not only to those that are initially politically aware, but also to otherwise uninformed or disengaged citizens (who have access to the Internet). This analysis also challenges previous research that asserts that there is little or no relationship between Internet use to obtain political information and political participation.

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Bingley, UK


Grassroots Movements, Social Movements, Activism, Internet, Communication Technologies


American Politics | Communication Technology and New Media | Other Political Science | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Media


In Patrick G. Coy (Ed.), Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, volume 30. Dr. Carty's chapter begins on page 171

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Bridging Contentious and Electoral Politics: MoveOn and the Digital Revolution