Society for the Social Study of Mobile Communications

The Society for the Social Study of Mobile Communication (SSSMC) is intended to facilitate the international advancement of cross-disciplinary mobile communication studies. It is intended to serve as a resource and to support a network of scholarly research as to the social consequences of mobile communication.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Social Media President

The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Digital Engagement

James E. Katz, Michael Barris, and Anshul Jain

Prominent in Barack Obama's political campaigns and presidency has been a promise to use social media tools to engage American citizens in the business of democratic governance, stirring the hopes of millions who believe in the democratizing potential of information and communication technology. Yet what has become of these promises? To what extent have they been realized? Shattering views of social media as a cure-all for limits on citizen deliberation and governmental representation, The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Digital Engagement analyzes the White House's use of Twitter and other online tools for a wide range of policy initiatives and strategic campaigns. Drawing on interviews, case studies and social-media content, the authors provide a bold take on a subject too frequently prone to exaggerated expectations. By examining presidential campaigns since 1992 and the actions of President Obama since taking office in 2009, a clearer picture emerges about the strengths and weaknesses of social media for public engagement. In terms of setting national policy, or getting systematic citizen input, a social media-enabled future would not only be difficult to implement with foreseeable technology, it could actually erode democratic institutions of voting and representation. Yet social media's prominence continues to grow and it is destined to play an ever-larger role in political rhetoric, campaign strategies, governance appeals and public debate. The thoughtful attention the authors provide to the successes, limitations and missed opportunities of the Obama Administration should command the interest of concerned scholars, practitioners and citizens everywhere.

About the Author
James E. Katz, Ph.D., is the Feld Family Professor of Emerging Media at Boston University's College of Communication where he also he directs its Division of Emerging Media Studies. Prior to coming to Boston, Katz was the Board of Governors Professor of Communication at Rutgers University. Winner of numerous awards for his scholarship on communication technology, including a lifetime achievement award from the American Sociological Association, Katz is frequently invited to keynote international conferences. His books include the Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies and Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life.
Michael Barris is a New York-based reporter covering international business news for the online, video and print markets. His background includes working for Dow Jones Newswires where he was a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He holds a master's degree in communication from Rutgers University.
Anshul Jain is currently completing his doctorate in political science at Boston University. His research interests broadly span the fields of political communication, international relations, American politics, and history. Anshul previously taught with the Boston public schools and is a graduate of Duke University.


Katz, J. E., Barris, M., & Jain, A. (2014). The social media president: Barack Obama and the politics of digital engagement. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.