Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Kristi Andersen, Professor

Honors Reader

Jonathan Hanson, Professor

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics | Models and Methods | Other Political Science | Political Science | Political Theory


Social media has been predicted as a tool to change the democratic process and turn around the substantial decline in political participation that has occurred among American citizens in the most recent years. Yet, since it is still relatively young and unharnessed, many argue that any effect that social media can have on civic engagement cannot be determined yet. This thesis explores and discusses how the emergence of social media as a campaign tool could effect traditional forms of civic engagement as well as produce new forms.

In the 2008 election, social media was capitalized by the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Through the analysis of the strategies employed by the Obama campaign as well as the insight into the emergence of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter in politics, the understanding of the potential effect emerges. From the initial understanding, I was able to analyze two different 2010 midterm elections that occurred in Central New York. Those two case studies allowed me to analyze the strategies employed by the campaigns, the online interaction with citizens, and to discuss the potential offline activities. Finally, my research led me to conduct interviews with current undergraduates. The interviews provided an insight into the current generation’s understanding of civic engagement as well as how they used social media for their own political use. My research provides further discussion into the relatively new topic and how the 2012 general election and beyond could be changed as a result.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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