The impact of YouTube on U.S. politics by LaChrystal Ricke.

Author:Gross, Benjamin
Position:Book review
 
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Ricke, LaChrystal D. The Impact of YouTube on U.S. Politics. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2014. vii + 209 pages. Hardcover, $85.00.

Focusing exclusively on US politics, the author, communications studies expert LaChrystal D. Ricke, uses contemporary sociological theory and an array of real-life examples to illustrate how YouTube plays a vital role in modern American politics. The main argument of the book is that YouTube has enhanced fundraising campaigns, political advertising, supporter mobilization, civic engagement, and political knowledge. YouTube enables a variety of social actors to perform numerous political activities in order to meet their needs and facilitate a more vibrant democracy. Ricke argues that YouTube blurs the boundaries between politicians, audiences, and mass media, creating an equally accessible and wide-reaching political space for all users. The book explores the ways that mass and social media converge to create unique new opportunities for interaction between politicians and the public. Moreover, the architecture of openness on YouTube has significantly reduced "gatekeeping" and "agenda-setting" from political elites and the mass media, altering the balance of power in American politics towards increased amounts of civic participation and diversity within the public sphere. The book builds upon a view of the public sphere and deliberative democracy reminiscent of the work of the philosopher Jurgen Habermas, which is discussed in a clear and concise fashion. The author contends that platforms like YouTube aid in creating a more "participatory democracy," where the lowered spatial, temporal, and financial costs to political participation is greatly increasing the amount public engagement and quality of political discourse in the United States.

Ricke argues that the presence of highly interactive websites such as YouTube create new opportunities for members of the formerly passive mass media audience to transform into an active one by sharing information, creating information, and challenging claims being made in the mass media. She uses the jointly hosted 2007 CNN-YouTube political debate as an example of how candidates and journalists have lost their position of power to set the public agenda within public discourse. During this event, candidates were expected to answer questions posed directly by viewers. While the author rightfully notes that there were difficulties with this event (CNN's omission of questions about...

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