My book, Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama, was just published by Oxford University Press in the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series edited by Andrew Chadwick. I am honored to share my first excerpt with Culture Digitally, because so many of the people here were influential shapers of my thinking on mediated politics as I guided this research project from a dissertation to a book. I am truly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful intellectual community.
Here is the abstract:
Taking Our Country Back presents the previously untold history of the uptake of new media in Democratic electoral campaigning over the last decade. Drawing on open-ended interviews with more than sixty political staffers, accounts of practitioners, and fieldwork during the 2008 electoral cycle, the book follows a group of technically-skilled Internet staffers who came together on the Howard Dean campaign and created a series of innovations in campaign organization, tools, and practice. After the election, these individuals founded an array of consulting firms and training organizations and staffed a number of prominent Democratic campaigns. In the process, they carried their innovations across Democratic politics and contributed to a number of electoral victories, including Barack Obama’s historic bid for the presidency.
The book contributes to an interdisciplinary body of scholarship in communication, sociology, and political science. The book theorizes processes of innovation in online electoral politics. It shows how the innovations of the Dean and Obama campaigns were the product of the movement of staffers between fields, organizational structures that provided a space for technical development, and incentives for experimentation. The book analyzes how Dean’s former staffers created an infrastructure for Democratic new media campaigning after the 2004 elections that helped transfer knowledge, practice, and tools across electoral cycles and campaigns. The book shows how organizational contexts shaped the uptake of tools by the Obama campaign, analyzes the emergence of data systems and tools that coordinate collective action, and shows how digital cultural work mobilizes supporters and shapes the meaning of electoral participation.
I am uploading my first chapter, which lays out the core analytical arguments of the book and presents an overview of the empirical findings, as well as the notes to these pages. I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!