Qualitative Political Communication| Labor Unions, Social Media, and Political Ideology: Using the Internet to Reach the Powerful or Mobilize the Powerless?

Jen Schradie


How can we account for two similar labor unions that used Internet platforms at dramatically different rates?  This study harnesses the power of qualitative research to understand the ideological mechanisms of differential social media use between two unions. Differences in political strategies shape digital activism. The reformist union had an active Internet presence. It practiced representative democracy and embraced the Internet primarily as a conduit to those in power. The radical union had low levels of digital engagement. It was more bottom-up and participatory, and it viewed the Internet as one of many tools to organize the powerless, rather than a way to reach the powerful.



Labor unions; political communication; ideology; digital activism, democracy, social media, Internet

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