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Social media in politics : case studies on the political power of social media
Patrut B., Patrut M. (Eds.), Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, New York, NY, 2014. 382 pp.  Type: Book (978-3-319046-65-5)
Date Reviewed: Aug 27 2014

The editors of this collection of 20 chapters by various global authors believe the Internet has not changed the nature of political action, but provides tools for those who choose to personally participate. Divided into three sections, “The Political Power of Social Media,” “Using Social Media in Electoral Marketing,” and “Social Media in Mobilizing People for Riots and Revolutions,” the international case studies will be interesting to political and social scientists, as well as students of the social aspects of information technology (IT).

In Part 1, chapter 1 briefly looks at the global presence of political parties on the web. Another author asserts that environmentalism opened a new period of civic engagement. A third author briefly reviews the role of social media in nine different social protest movements. An example of social media in specific practice is a chapter concerning Twitter in the 2013 Italian political elections. Finally, two authors write about graph theory algorithms for analyzing political blogs. The blog of President Obama is used as a case study example. Main ideas and links between topics are visually represented.

Part 2 addresses how politicians have used social media in the past two years in local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. Local elections in Belgium and gubernatorial elections in Indonesia are analyzed in detail in separate chapters. National elections in 2013 in Italy and 2011 in Slovakia and Turkey are considered. Of special interest is a chapter concerning the last month of the 2012 US presidential election. Romney was more aggressive on Facebook with a negative and fear-based strategy. Obama utilized enthusiasm and humor. A separate chapter addressed Obama’s uses of social media in 2008 and 2012 to impact young adult political participation. Creating a sense of community was a powerful theme. Two final chapters consider the 2013 Czech presidential election and a Facebook dispute in 2012 concerning the Romanian president.

Part 3 begins with an interesting chapter concerning the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 in Egypt. Attempts to ban the Internet and freedom of information access as a human right are covered. A discussion of the Gezi Park protest in Turkey specifically addresses Twitter. Several protest movements in South Africa illustrate social media as the “new protest drums.” Social media may be creatively molded to address specific needs. Israeli teenage girls broadly use social media, yet civic activism by them is low. Virtual protests did not necessarily translate into action. Four case studies in India illustrate how social media can provide positive and uniting information or negative and dividing content. Social media has both potentials.

A common issue of many books in this Springer series is the lack of a comprehensive index. While individual authors have an abstract and list of references, there is not a way to precisely find a given topic of interest within the book. In contrast, a list of contributors contains helpful biographical and email contact information. Certainly political social media will have an increasingly global important presence. This collection of case studies provides a cutting-edge analysis.

Reviewer:  Brad Reid Review #: CR142662 (1412-1028)
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