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How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives

Jen Schradie's book cover
Courtesy of Harvard University Press

Online movements accompanying major protests like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street made people optimistic that digital activism could level the playing field and fuel a new generation of political activism. Some pundits thought the internet would be the great equalizer — giving all perspectives equal weight and access.

But sociologist Jen Schradie’s research illuminates that digital activism is unequal, and in fact favors conservatives. Schradie studied more than 30 political groups in North Carolina and concluded that groups who are resource-rich, authoritative and hierarchical — characteristics shared by conservative organizations — have an advantage in online activism.

She lays out her findings in the new book “The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives” (Harvard University Press/2019). Host Frank Stasio talks to Schradie about what she calls the digital activism gap. Schradie is an assistant professor at Sciences Po in Paris. She will be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m.

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.