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Cyberpolitics: Citizen Activism in the Age of the Internet (People, Passions, and Power: Social Movements, Interest Organizations, and the P) [Paperback]

Kevin A. Hill , John E. Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30, 1998 0847687430 978-0847687435
Is the Internet poised to replace television as the central means of political communication? Will the advent of computer communication create a new era of citizen activism? Will the Internet ultimately lend itself more to political accountability and access or to exclusion and extremism? Is cyberspace truly the domain of the ideological right? In answering these questions, Cyberpolitics goes beyond the hype to analyze the content of political discussion on the Internet and to see how the Internet is being used politically. Empirical research translated into dozens of graphically compelling figures and tables illuminates for the first time Internet characteristics heretofore only speculated about: Who are the 'cybercitizens' using the Internet, how do they participate in the political process, and who uses the Internet most effectively to accomplish political ends? The bottom line the authors reach should be reassuring to Internet utopians and dystopians alike: As the Internet grows, it will change the nature of political action, discourse, and effect less than it will itself be changed by politics. Along the way, we learn a lot about politics on the Internet and off_in the U.S. and around the world; left, right, and center.

Editorial Reviews Review

Hill and Hughes conducted extensive research online attempting to answer a basic question about the role of the Internet in the political scene: how do regular citizens actually use the Internet to discuss politics? In their research, they found a number of surprising things. For example, the lasting political content of the Internet is primarily conservative, yet when ongoing interaction is monitored it turns out that liberals outnumber conservatives among the actual users.

Among the various issues they faced in their research was determining who the users and content providers actually are. How do people tend to interact both in asynchronous political conversation--such as posting on bulletin boards or conversing through e-mail--and in such real-time communication as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and America Online chat? They explored how political communities form online and what differences there are between U.S.-based and international communities. They looked as well at the question of how the fully open nature of the Internet, where anyone can provide information or misinformation based on any level of knowledge, can both promote and interfere with the functioning of a democratic system. Among the primary points to emerge from their study is that, while the Internet will grow to play a vital role in government, it is unlikely to change the nature of politics in any profound manner. On the other hand, as more people find their virtual homes and voices online, politics may have a profound influence on the nature of Internet discourse. This is a scholarly book (though not laden with a dense, academic style) loaded with thought-provoking observations. A wide variety of charts and graphs make the research results easier to follow. --Elizabeth Lewis


The book provides analysis of some of the ideological and political differences found among Internet activities. Cyberpolitics provides a very welcome addition to the literature—with a particular strength being its grounding in empirical research. (Steve Webster, University of Bradford International Affairs, Vol 75 No.2, April 99)

Superb analysis of the mechanisms by computer mediated communication (CMC). . . . Hill and Hughes are clear, lucid, and truly incisive in their remarks. Readable, lively, and utterly critical to understanding the shifting role of not just information but also of information distribution systems in traditional government. An intelligent, hard-nosed, empirically based analysis. (Communication Booknotes Quarterly)

Hill's and Hugh's initial exploration will encourage future research on the importance of 'cyberpolitics.' . . . They use a clear, nontechnical writing style to make the work accessible. (Steven Puro, St. Louis University Perspectives on Political Science)

Hill and Hughes rise above this speculation by providing a rich and diverse empirical study of these technologies. (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences)

This study greatly extends our knowledge of how people use the Internet by not only examining the characteristics and attitudes of the Internet user in depth but also examining the political content of Usenet newsgroups, chat rooms, and the World Wide Web. This is a valuable work for anyone researching how people use the Internet to communicate. (Thomas J. Johnson, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale)

Product Details

  • Series: People, Passions, and Power: Social Movements, Interest Organizations, and the P
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847687430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847687435
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,857,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Some evidence to back up Internet claims!! April 25, 1999
By A Customer
This is really a very good book, and very timely as well. Too many books about the Internet, including books about politics, investing, relationships, privacy, etc., are simply pie-in-the-sky theorizing. This book, focussing on politics, actually provides evidence through what looks like lots of research to prove its assertions. I highly recommend this book to people interested in something a bit more down to earth and less breathless about politics, the Internet, and the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Foundational Book for E-Commerce February 29, 2000
As a Fortune 500 Market Researcher specializing in targeted/online marketing, I can't stress enough the importance of this foundational work. If we take a step back and think about the future of e-commerce more broadly, then the true significance of Cyberpolitics becomes even clearer.
The Internet is, above all else, a vehicle for information. E-commerce is often the medium through which information is provided, organized, and housed. However, before marketers can determine the most effective means of successfully accomplishing this task, we have to gain a fuller picture of the overall audience. Since political information is a primary information need for Internet users, the dynamics of this user market is something that should interest anyone involved in e-journalism, political sites, community portals, and online information sources more broadly. I look forward to follow-up studies from the authors!
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