Thursday, May 29, 2008

E-Activism: Analysis of Black Bloggers in the Blogosphere

Dr Antoinette Pole

Antoinette Pole is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. From 2005-2007she was Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, and she received her Ph.D. in Political Science from CUNY Graduate School and University Center. She has expertise in information technology and government and state politics.

She is currently writing a book on political blogs titled, Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society (Routledge, forthcoming), as well as co-authored book about New York state politics titled, New York Politics: A Tale of Two States, Second Edition (ME Sharpe, forthcoming). Professor Pole has published in several journals including Public Choice, International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, State and Local Government Review, and Spectrum the Journal of State Government. Additionally, Professor Pole serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, and sits on the Executive Committee of the American Political Science Association’s Technology and Politics Section.She has been interviewed by the Boston Globe, Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, and WBRU (radio), Silvio Canto Talk (web-based radio), for her work on blogs.

Professor Pole resides in New York City, and her interests include travel, music, fiction, yoga, NY Times Crosswords, Scrabble, photography, red wine, fashion, film and food. For additional information access Professor Pole's Curriculum Vitae 2008.doc or contact her at
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In the first scholarly research examining the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere, Brown University researcher Antoinette Pole assessed how bloggers of color use their medium for purposes related to politics. She found that black bloggers are, in fact, mobilizing readers to engage in political participation. Additionally, Pole found that black bloggers do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers. These findings appear in the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society.

Among the top political blogs, Pole says blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the “Big Boys Club.” She says blacks comprise approximately less than 1 percent of political bloggers.

“Though they are less numerous, examining the role of minorities in the blogosphere is important if blogs are being used to engage in political discourse and discussion, and more importantly, political action that has real-world implications,” Pole said. “Who has influence in the blogosphere and how bloggers are using this new medium to undertake political action merits study.”

Based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers, Pole’s study found that 85 percent of respondents use their blogs to engage in political advocacy and to raise money for charitable causes. A majority of the bloggers said they encouraged their readers to vote or to register to vote; 40 percent of the bloggers asked their readers to contact elected officials; 35 percent suggested that their readers sign a petition or attend a rally, protest, or march. Several of the bloggers mentioned using their blogs to endorse candidates for office. Compared to other research examining blogging and political participation, black bloggers appear to be engaged in these online advocacy efforts and philanthropic endeavors to a greater degree than their white counterparts, according to the paper.

“I assumed these bloggers were writing about politics and policy issues, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the authors mobilize their readers and use blogs as a conduit for political participation,” said Pole.

When black bloggers were asked whether they felt discriminated against or left out by other bloggers, a majority of respondents said they do not. “While black bloggers face challenges such as not being linked by more popular bloggers or not receiving as much traffic as other bloggers, they perceive the blogosphere as inclusive.”

Pole also found that black political bloggers do not necessarily blog about issues that are unique to minorities, though at times, they emphasize how issues affect blacks in particular. Respondents commonly reported writing about a variety of topics including race and ethnicity, party politics, and campaigns and elections.

“Findings from this research suggest the blogosphere can be an avenue for greater political participation on the part of blacks and other minorities, given the relatively low threshold to entry and what appear to be low levels of discrimination,” Pole concludes.
This paper is part of Pole’s forthcoming book titled Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society, which examines the impact of political blogging on politics and participation.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476. ######

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Biography and Image Credit: Antoinette Pole, Ph.D. FrontPage

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