The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Nielsen: Mundane Internet Tools, Mobilizing Practices, and the Coproduction of Citizenship in Political Campaigns

Paper presenter: 
Nielsen, R.K., Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

The internet‘s potential for political mobilization has been highlighted for more than a decade, but we know little about what particular kinds of information and communication technologies are most important when it comes to getting people involved in politics and what this means for the active exercise of engaged citizenship. On the basis of ethnographic research in two congressional campaigns in the United States, I will argue that specific mundane internet tools (like email) are much more deeply integrated into mobilizing practices today than emerging tools (like social networking sites) and specialized tools (like campaign websites). Campaigns‘ reliance on mundane internet tools challenges the prevalent idea that sophisticated hypermedia turn people into managed citizens. Instead I suggest we theorize internet-assisted activism as a process for the coproduction of citizenship and recognize how dependent even well-funded political organizations are on the wider built communications environment and today‘s relatively open internet.

activism, campaigns, civic engagement, citizenship, elections, ethnography, information and communication technologies, internet, participant-observation, political participation
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen