Deep democracy, thin citizenship: The impact of digital media in political campaign strategy

  • Howard P
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Digital media strategies are a crucial component of contemporary political campaigns. Established political elites use database and Internet technologies to raise money, organize volunteers, gather intelligence on voters, and do opposition research. However, they use data-mining techniques that outrage privacy advocates and surreptitious technologies that few Internet users understand. Grassroots political actors and average votersbuild their own digital campaigns, researching public policy options, candidate histories, lobbyist maneuvering, and the finances of big campaigns. I examine the role of digital technologies in the production of contemporary political culture with ethnographic and survey evidence from four election seasons between 1996 and 2002. Democracy is deeper in terms of the diffusion of rich data about political actors, policy options, and the diversity of actors and opinion in the public sphere. Citizenship is thinner in terms of the ease in which people can become politically expressive without being substantively engaged.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Campaign strategy
  • Data mining
  • Information technology
  • Internet
  • Political communication

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  • Philip N. Howard

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