1st Edition

Power Shift? Political Leadership and Social Media

Edited By David Taras, Richard Davis Copyright 2020
    262 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    262 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Power Shift? Political Leadership and Social Media examines how political leaders have adapted to the challenges of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and memes, among other means of persuasion. Established political leaders now use social media to grab headlines, respond to opponents, fundraise, contact voters directly, and organize their election campaigns. Leaders of protest movements have used social media to organize and galvanize grassroots support and to popularize new narratives: narratives that challenge and sometimes overturn conventional thinking. Yet each social media platform provides different affordances and different attributes, and each is used differently by political leaders.

    In this book, leading international experts provide an unprecedented look at the role of social media in leadership today. Through a series of case studies dealing with topics ranging from Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump's use of Twitter, to Justin Trudeau's use of selfies and Instagram, to how feminist leaders mobilize against stereotypes and injustices, the authors argue that many leaders have found additional avenues to communicate with the public and use power. This raises the question of whether this is causing a power shift in the relationship between leaders and followers. Together the chapters in this book suggest new rules of engagement that leaders ignore at their peril.

    The lack of systematic theoretically informed and empirically supported analyses makes Power Shift? Political Leadership and Social Media an indispensable read for students and scholars wishing to gain new understanding on what social media means for leadership.

    Political Leadership and Social Media: An Introduction

    David Taras

    Part 1: Leaders and the New Instruments of Media Persuasion

    2. The President Tweets the Press: President-Press Relations and the Politics of Media Degradation

    Joshua M. Scacco and Eric C. Wiemer

    3. Vulgar Eloquence in the Digital Age: A Case Study of Candidate Donald Trump’s Use of Twitter

    Jennifer Stromer-Galley

    4. "Delete Your Account"? Hillary Rodham Clinton Across Social Media Platforms in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

    Shannon C. McGregor and Regina C. Lawrence

    5. The Visually Viral Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau, Selfies, and Instagram

    Chasten Remillard, Lindsey M. Bertrand, and Alina Fisher

    6. Tweeting the Agenda: Policy Making and Agenda Setting by U.S. Congressional Leaders in the Age of Social Media

    Jacob R. Strauss and Raymond T. Williams

    Part 2: Twitter, Leaders, and Populism

    7. Populism and Social Media Popularity: How Populist Communication Benefits Political Leaders on Facebook and Twitter

    Sina Blassnig, Nicole Ernst, Sven Engesser and Frank Esser

    8. A Marriage of Twitter and Populism in the French Presidential Campaign? The Twitter-Discourse of Challengers Macron and Le Pen

    Peter Maurer

    9. Political Communication Patterns and Sentiments Across Time

    Maurice Vergeer

    Part 3: Social Media and Grassroots Politics

    10. ‘Twitter Was Like Magic!’: Strategic use of social media in contemporary feminist activism

    Kaitlynn Mendes

    11. #Unsettling Canada 150, One Tweet at a Time: How Indigenous Leaders use Twitter to Resist and Reframe Mainstream News in Canada

    Brad Clark

    12. Fanning Flames of Discontent: A Case Study of Social Media, Populism, and Campaigning

    Patrick McCurdy

    13. Not A Leader! Theresa May’s Leadership Through the Lens of Internet Memes

    Tamara Small and Mireille Lalancette

    14. Twitter and Student Leadership in South Africa: The Case of #FeesMustFall

    Tanja Bosch, Thierry M. Luescher, and Nkululeko Makhubu


    Richard Davis


    Richard Davis is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Office of Civic Engagement at Brigham Young University, USA. He is the author of several books on the Internet and American politics including Twitter and Elections Around the World: Campaigning in 140 Characters or Less (2016), Covering the Courts in the Digital Age (2014), The Symbiotic Relationship Between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Press (2014), and may more.

    David Taras is Professor of Communication Studies and holds the Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies at Mount Royal University, Canada. Before coming to Mount Royal, David taught at the University of Toronto, the University of Amsterdam and, most recently, the University of Calgary, where he served as the Ernest C. Manning Chair in Canadian Studies. While there, he received the Students’ Union Award for Teaching Excellence five times and was inducted into the Teaching Excellence Awards Hall of Fame in 2011. He was President of the Canadian Communications Association and served two terms on the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary. He received the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005. A leading expert in the area of Canadian media policy and its relationship to Canadian identity and democracy, he is the author of The Newsmakers: The Media’s Influence on Canadian Politics (1990) and of Power & Betrayal in the Canadian Media (2001). He is co-author of The Last Word: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada (2006).

    "Taras and Davis have put together a collection of scholars that represents a who’s who of researchers focused on the now ubiquitous role of social media in modern politics. The result is, as expected, successful. The essays in this volume provide a unique look into social media and political leadership. Has there been a foundational shift in the underpinnings guiding leadership, or does the song remain the same? Addressing multiple related topics, this collection grapples with that fundamental question."Jason Gainous, Professor, co-author of Tweeting to Power

    "More scholarship has been available about uses of social media by political publics than by political leaders. That makes this volume a welcome addition. It presents a range of useful analyses national leadership in the US, Canada, Europe, and South Africa. It should be useful to scholars interested in a more complete picture of social media in politics as well as those interested in important comparative questions." Bruce Bimber, Professor, Center for Information Technology & Society, and Department of Political Science, University of California - Santa Barbara

    "Taras and Davis have assembled some of the top scholars in the area of digital politics and leadership. This book provides an important foundation for anyone who wants to understand how modern leadership has changed in the Internet Age." Kevin Wagner, Professor of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University

    "This book offers a timely and refreshingly diverse array of perspectives on social media and political elites. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in understanding leadership and strategic political communication and in today’s media environment."Johanna Dunaway, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University