Here are some elected publications. More updates coming soon!
2017: Tools Beyond Control: Social Media and the Work of Advocacy Organizations (published in Social Media + Society. Open access.)
Abstract: Advocacy organizations rely on social media services, such as Facebook and Twitter, to engage their supporters. These services increasingly influence how citizens and advocacy organizations engage politically online through the technical features and policies they choose to implement—a phenomenon that can sometimes disrupt the work of advocates. Interviews with digital strategists at several US advocacy organizations revealed low levels of awareness of this phenomenon, despite its potential impact on their work; substantial dependence on these services for advocacy work; and a shared sense of necessity to embrace these tools, despite their potential downsides. Implications for the scholarship and practice of Internet governance and digitally mediated advocacy are discussed.
2015: Climate Change Advocacy Online: Theories Of Change, Target Audiences, and Online Strategy (published in Environmental Communication. Contact me directly for a copy).
Abstract: Widespread adoption of the Internet has transformed how most US political advocacy organizations operate, but perhaps more important has been the formation of new types of advocacy organizations. These ‘Internet-mediated advocacy organizations’ tend to have smaller, geographically dispersed and networked staffs, behave as hybrids of traditional political organizations, and emphasize the use of online tools for offline action. The climate change debate has spurred formation of many such organizations – including 350.org – that now advocate for climate action alongside legacy/environmental organizations. How do these organizations differ from their legacy/environmental counterparts? What does their rise mean for climate change political advocacy? I explore these and other questions through in-depth interviews with top online strategists and other staffers at Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Energy Action Coalition, 1Sky, and 350.org. Interviews revealed broad agreement among Internet-mediated/climate groups regarding core strategic assumptions about climate advocacy, but some divergence among legacy/environmental organizations. They also revealed connections between these assumptions, audience segment targeting, and strategic use of the Internet for advocacy. I discuss implications for the future of US climate advocacy.
2014: Preaching to the Choir: Internet-Mediated Advocacy, Issue Public Mobilization and Climate Change (published in New Media & Society. Contact me directly for a copy.)
Abstract: Despite the impact that Internet-mediated advocacy organizations have had on American politics over the last decade, we are still learning about how they work. This is even truer for Internet-mediated issue specialists that focus on a single issue, such as climate change. Based on interviews with key staff members of two climate change advocacy campaigns, this article examines how these organizations communicate and mobilize citizens around their issue and the underlying assumptions behind their strategies. Interviews revealed a focus on like-minded issue public mobilization and online-to-offline social movement building strategies. The paper also examines how these organizations can influence policy debates by mobilizing issue publics, shifting debates to more favorable public arenas, and reframing them in ways more favorable to their causes. Implications for the future of climate policy and Internet-mediated advocacy research are discussed.
2013: App Neutrality: Apple’s App Store and Freedom of Expression Online (published in the International Journal of Communication)
Abstract: Apple’s wireless devices have become a critical entry point into the Internet. But unlike the broader Internet, which can be construed as a relatively open communications network, the iOS app store is arguably a closed technological ecosystem. Developers must gain Apple’s approval before distributing their apps through the store. Some have criticized the company’s app review and approval process for being opaque and arbitrary. This process has also resulted in the rejection of both explicitly and implicitly political apps. This paper analyzes Apple’s guidelines and approval process, discusses content-based rejections of apps, and outlines the consequences of this process for developers’ and consumers’ freedom of expression. It also argues for principles that guarantee ‘app neutrality’ while also guaranteeing device safety and quality control.
2004: Peace for Vieques: The Role of Transnational Activist Networks in International Negotiations (MA thesis, Georgetown University) | Paper-length version for International Studies Association 2007 Annual Conference
Abstract: Historically, the discipline of international relations has been dominated by theories that allocate the greatest measure of agency on the international stage to nation-states. Nation-states have traditionally been conceived as rational actors pursuing self-interested goals, either through the confrontational frameworks defined by realism or the cooperative ones promulgated by liberalism. The process of globalization, however, is reshaping our traditional notions of power and agency in the realm of international politics. Whereas nation-states were once the only significant actor on the international stage, they must now share the stage with other types of actors that challenge traditional understandings of actors and the interests they pursue. Actors and forces that previously had only minor roles to play in international politics are now increasingly important. Such is the case with transnational activist networks. This thesis is concerned with the potential for agency transnational activist networks have in the realm of international negotiations. How can transnational activist networks influence international negotiations?
This thesis argues that transnational activist networks can influence both the domestic and international levels of weak-strong international negotiations through political mobilization strategies, the most important being the effective use of framing, which can constrain or expand the domestic win-sets of both parties and move the zone of agreement closer to activists’ goals. The potential for influence of transnational activist would depend on the level of vulnerability of strong actors to the negotiation alternatives presented by the political mobilization of the networks, which is facilitated by the degree of openness of the strong actor’s political system. Furthermore, this thesis argues that transnational activist networks can not only influence the outcomes of negotiations, but trigger them as well. Robert Putnam’s two-level game metaphor for international negotiations will be used as an analytical framework for testing these propositions.
In order to explore these arguments, this thesis will use the process of social action and negotiation that led to the United States Navy’s withdrawal from Vieques, Puerto Rico, as a case study. From the 1940s to May 2003, the U.S. Navy maintained a significant presence on the island municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Throughout this period, activists tried to either ameliorate the perceived ill effects of the Navy’s presence or achieve its departure. They were unsuccessful until April 1999, when the accidental death of a civilian security guard caused by wayward Navy bombs triggered a widespread call for the Navy’s withdrawal. After four years of negotiations between the U.S. and Puerto Rican governments, the Navy left Vieques on May 1, 2003