1st Edition

Netroots Online Progressives and the Transformation of American Politics

By Matthew Robert Kerbel Copyright 2009
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    The progressive "netroots," fueled by bloggers writing on websites like the Daily Kos and working through online organizations like MoveOn, are on the verge of spearheading a revolution that may well define the coming political era. Still, their purpose, goals, and track record remain largely misunderstood. This book provides an understanding of the loosely affiliated groups that collectively call themselves the progressive netroots: who they are, what they hope to accomplish, what they've done so far and how likely it is they will succeed in a plan so audacious it would result, if realized, in the transformation of America from a television-focused, center-right nation to an Internet-focused, center-left nation. Netroots weaves together a range of evidence and arguments to shatter conventional myths about this online movement. It explains why the left is better positioned than the right to take advantage of the decentralized nature of the Internet. As progressive candidates make uneven progress toward winning elections, the progressive netroots are working to drive media narratives and building real and virtual communities of activists that will contribute strongly to electoral success. Netroots documents the achievements of this emerging political force through an engaging analysis told with an eye toward history and in the bloggers' own words.

    List of Boxes and Tables Preface and Acknowledgments Chapter 1: The Emerging Era of Internet Politics Chapter 2: Technology and Political Change: Slow March to Sudden Burst Printing Technology and the Jacksonian Revolution The Telegraph and Lincoln's Republican Politics FDR, Radio, and Manufactured Intimacy Nixon and Television's Deceptions The Internet and Small-D Democracy Chapter 3: The Two Blogospheres: How Left and Right Are Structured In the Beginning, There Was Dean From a Distance, Similarities Between Right and Left Up Close: The Activist Heart of Progressive Blogs A "Bourgeois Elite" Chapter 4: The Progressive Blogosphere and Political Effectiveness Metrics of Netroots Success Contested House Seats Donor Base and Contribution Size Hybrid Campaigning Candidate Convergence Nonfederal Candidates Conclusion Chapter 5: The Progressive Blogosphere and Media Narratives New Narratives, Framing, and Power Framing Policy Framing Politics Opposing False Balance Opposing Lazy Journalists Conclusion Chapter 6: The Progressive Blogosphere and the Creation of Community Cynicism Versus Social Capital Blogs as Communities Real-World Communities Conclusion Chapter 7: Open Source Politics in the Obama Era Transforming Process: Hybrid Campaigning Transforming Narratives: Blogging as Journalism Transforming Politics: The Self and the Community Appendix Notes References Index About the Author


    Matthew R. Kerbel

    "Kerbel (Villanova Univ.) has written a lively, accessible history of the emergence of the blogosphere as a force in U.S. political life. Recommended."

    "...a serious assessment of whether the netroots have had demonstrable political consequences and of what their likely long-term impact on American politics will be."
    —The American Prospect

    “Where Netroots really shines is as a digital ethnography. … [It is] a compelling and nuanced portrait of the netroots phenomenon. No academic account to date has been so successful at capturing how the progressive blogosphere sees itself.”
    —Political Communication

    “Kerbel shows convincingly why the blogosphere matters in American politics. His analysis of conservative and progressive blogging communities explains how the left has taken greater advantage than the right of the distributed networking potential of digital media. The core argument is that the progressive netroots are positioned to use the Internet for movement building in ways that may rival how conservatives used message control in the mass media echo chamber to build their movement in decades past. This argument is well documented and nicely presented, making the book accessible for students and an important source for scholars.”
    —W. Lance Bennett, Director, Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, University of Washington–Seattle

    “Kerbel offers a rich and lively description of progressive politics online, with a special spotlight on blogs. A thorough and insightful account of the significance of the netroots in the evolution of American politics.”
    —Bruce Bimber, University of California–Santa Barbara

    “A bracing read. Kerbel not only ‘gets it,’ he explains it well—‘it’ being the netroots phenomenon that has reshaped American politics in the past decade. If you want to understand where politics is in 2009 and how it got there, read this book.”
    —Nate Wilcox, coauthor of Netroots Rising

    “Finally, a book that places the lefty netroots in the historical context of earlier examples of technological and political change. Such a context helps readers to see the significance of what progressives aspire to build: a new, much more democratic architecture of politics.”
    —Marcy Wheeler, blogger, “emptywheel” at Firedoglake.com

    "I'm really impressed with how much ground you've covered. Your work is absolutely critical to us all. I'm recommending your book to my colleagues in the departments of political science, communications, and history!"
    —Christine L. Hansvick, Pacific Lutheran University