From barricades to firewalls? Strategic voting and social movement leadership in the Internet age

Alan Schussman, Jennifer Earl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Strategic voting, which was frequently described as "Nader trading," emerged during the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election as a way for voters to redefine their participation in the American electoral process. As a movement that emerged online, strategic voting not only presents potential political ramifications, but raises important issues for social movement scholars. In particular, movements that emerge online, which we refer to as "e-movements," may challenge movement theories based on offline, pre-Internet forms of activism. In this paper, we use detailed data on the forms of strategic voting and the creators of the movement to address the literature on social movement leadership. We find that biography plays a strong role in the generation of strategic voting leaders, but in ways that differ from previous expectations about movement leadership processes. Further, we find that specific characteristics of leaders' backgrounds also shape the forms of strategic voting implemented by leaders. We suggest a new institutionalist interpretation of this finding, arguing that scripts for appropriate forms of action generate diverse approaches to strategic voting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-463
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume74
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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