Jen Schradie's The Revolution That Wasn't Featured in the Washington Monthly

15 Aug, 2019

Jen Schradie's The Revolution That Wasn't Featured in the Washington Monthly

Richard John's article "Why the Left Is Losing the Information Age" in the Washington Monthly highlights alum Jen Schradie's research on digital activism and inequality. By taking a deep dive into Schradie's recently published book "The Revolution That Wasn't: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives," John argues that while liberals assumed digital technology would help their side, they forgot how power works.

From the article:

Sociologist Jen Schradie has an answer, and it will not sit well with the legions of academics who have been climbing the tenure ladder studying online political mobilization. For Schradie’s arresting thesis is that digital activism favors conservatives. This conclusion may not seem particularly startling to political observers familiar with Breitbart News, President Trump’s tweets, or the ubiquitous online harassment of women, Jews, and African Americans. Yet it runs counter to the techno-optimism that has long informed the research agenda of media scholars charting the influence of the internet in public life. Schradie’s analysis suggests that the consensus view of the internet as a progressive, democratizing force overlooked a simple reality: building and sustaining an audience online costs money, and conservatives have more of it. “The reality is that throughout history, communications tools that seemed to offer new voices are eventually owned or controlled by those with more resources,” she observes. Inequality, institutions, and ideas all matter; and, in the digital arena, each favors the right.

Read the full article here!

Jen is an Assistant Professor at the Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC) at Sciences Po in Paris. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based at the Toulouse School of Economics, as well as at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société, Université de Toulouse. Her broad research agenda is to interrogate digital democracy claims with empirical data. Despite recent panic about digital threats to democracy, many theorists have still suggested that the Internet can enable a more participatory, pluralist society, but her research challenges these claims, spanning three areas: the digital divide, digital activism, and digital labor. Schradie has found that inequalities, ideologies, and institutions shape participation in our new information society.