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The Logic of Connective Action
Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics

$36.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107642720

$ 36.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • The Logic of Connective Action explains the rise of a personalized digitally networked politics in which diverse individuals address the common problems of our times such as economic fairness and climate change. Rich case studies from the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany illustrate a theoretical framework for understanding how large-scale connective action is coordinated using inclusive discourses such as “We Are the 99%” that travel easily through social media. In many of these mobilizations, communication operates as an organizational process that may replace or supplement familiar forms of collective action based on organizational resource mobilization, leadership, and collective action framing. In some cases, connective action emerges from crowds that shun leaders, as when Occupy protesters created media networks to channel resources and create loose ties among dispersed physical groups. In other cases, conventional political organizations deploy personalized communication logics to enable large-scale engagement with a variety of political causes. The Logic of Connective Action shows how power is organized in communication-based networks, and what political outcomes may result.

    • Adds a communication perspective to the study of social movements and contentious politics
    • Identifies the role of digital communication in contentious action
    • Multidisciplinary approach featuring innovative concepts and methods
    • Novel theoretical framework and rich empirical cases drawn from the key issues of our times: economic crises, climate change
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Bennett and Segerberg bring generations of social scientific thought about collective action and contentious politics up to date, placing communication, networks, and the personalization of politics in the theoretical spotlight. In their innovative and theoretically fresh analysis, they distinguish organization-driven collective action from two forms of connective action, in which organizations broker but do not organize, and action arises even in the absence of central organization. This engaging and rich volume is an essential contribution to the understanding of contentious politics and social movements across disciplines.”
    Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara

    “The relationship between digital media and political mobilization is one of the most urgent and compelling issues of our era. In this superb book, Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg explain how the web and social media are powerful mechanisms for political organization, while also revealing the forces that may blunt digital media’s impact. This theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched, and hugely exciting book will change the way you think about how people join together to fight for political change. The Logic of Connective Action is a work of brilliance, and an instant classic.”
    Andrew Chadwick, Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the New Political Communication Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London

    “From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, from Turkey to Brazil, rapid and unexpected mass mobilizations keep surprising and fascinating us. Combing original thinking with rich empirical evidence, Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg have written a path-breaking volume on the logics of connective action that allow for those impressive protests. Covering a broad range of transnational protest campaigns, they convincingly show the diverse ways in which new technologies can be used by different actors, responding to and promoting social and political innovations.”
    Donatella della Porta, European University Institute

    “Combining careful empirical research with bold theorizing about the nature of "connective action", Bennett and Segerberg set a new standard for the systematic analysis of the role of digital communication in contentious politics. They fashion a deliberate path between conservative ("there is nothing new here") and optimistic ("the Internet has revolutionized everything") interpretations of the new digital communication. Arguing that while much contemporary activism still resembles the protest politics of old, they show that digital media have shared the work of mobilizing and organizing and, in some cases, do more of it than formal organizations.”
    Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University, author of Strangers at the Gates: Movements and States in Contentious Politics (Cambridge, 2012)

    "W. Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg’s The Logic of Connective Action is a welcome introduction to the topic and should, I hope, convince more sociologists that our theories of movements should consider social media as a distinctive resource, one that transforms the way people engage in activism rather than simply augmenting traditional communications … This book makes a strong case that social media and other forms of online activism should grab the attention of social movement scholars."
    Brayden G. King, American Journal of Sociology

    "Playing off Olson’s title, Bennett and Segerberg describe the emerging development of 'connective' action, in which the lower costs of social media and the ability to claim credit for one’s substantive contribution to policy debates have fueled new modes for personal political involvement. Through the development of a sophisticated matrix of mobilization types and techniques and a set of widely divergent case studies of social movement in a variety of political settings, they show the potential for technology to motivate, inform, and engage previously uninvolved individuals in the policy process … Summing up: recommended."
    S. E. Frantzich, Choice

    'Scholars interested in social movements or activism, political organizing, political communication, civic engagement, new information and communications technologies, and media studies would find the book particularly useful. This path-breaking work, along with others (Bimber, Flanagin, and Stohl, 2012, and Castells, 2012), will change how we think about organization and contentious action for years to come.'
    Hao Cao, International Journal of Communication

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107642720
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 155 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The logic of connective action
    2. Personalized communication in protest networks
    3. Digital media and the organization of connective action
    4. How organizationally enabled networks engage publics
    5. Networks, power, and political outcomes
    6. Conclusion: when logics collide.

  • Authors

    W. Lance Bennett, University of Washington
    W. Lance Bennett is Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication and Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is also director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement ( His research and writing addresses how communication processes and technologies can enhance citizen engagement with politics and social life. Bennett has received the Ithiel de Sola Pool Lectureship and the Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award from the American Political Science Association; a Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa, from Uppsala University; the Olof Palme Visiting Professorship in Sweden; and the National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar career award.

    Alexandra Segerberg, Stockholms Universitet
    Alexandra Segerberg is a Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University and Associate Editor of the ECPR Press, the publishing imprint of the European Consortium of Political Research. Her research centers on philosophical, political and empirical theories of collective action.

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