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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Non-party groups increasingly go after the electorate in their efforts to force politicians to take up their issues. Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs), which allow non-party groups to communicate with voters directly, aid in their efforts. How non-party groups try to tip the political scales in their favor is the topic of this chapter. This chapter outlines three ways that non-party groups, or groups that are not affiliated with, based on, or representing a political party, influence politicians and political parties in the digital age: framing issues; mobilizing consensus among a broad swatch of the populace; and mobilizing some subset of the electorate to action. The chapter begins by distinguishing three types of non-party groups—grassroots organizations, social movement organizations, and astroturf organizations—which vary in resources and capacity. It argues that these differences affect not only how groups use mass media, and ICTs specifically, to affect political change, but also how they frame issues and mobilize the electorate to action. The chapter concludes with a call for additional research. Social scientists need to pay close attention to astroturf groups, which seem to coopt legitimate political change projects for their own purposes.

Keywords: social movement organizations, interest groups, grassroots mobilization, astroturf group, corporate interest groups

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