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The MoveOn EffectThe Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy$
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David Karpf

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199898367

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199898367.001.0001

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The MoveOn Effect

The MoveOn Effect

Disruptive Innovation in the Interest Group Ecology of American Politics

(p.22) 2 The MoveOn Effect
The MoveOn Effect

David Karpf

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 places the new generation of internet-mediated organizations into historical context, emphasizing the substantive importance of the new communications technologies. Building upon the works of Skocpol (2003), Bimber (2003), Bosso (2005), Berry (1999), and others, the chapter draws parallels between the well-studied “interest group explosion” of the 1970s and the rise of “netroots” political associations today. Both are predicated on changes to the technological environment, enabling changes in membership and fundraising regimes. Shifts in these regimes facilitate opportunities for a new set of political actors to experiment with novel structures for collective action. This transition can be properly understood as a “disruptive innovation,” in which longstanding organizations are displaced as the “market” for political mobilization is fundamentally redefined (Christensen 1997). After introducing the historical analogue, the chapter provides a detailed analysis of MoveOn.org, highlighting the innovations in staff structure, membership, fundraising, and strategy that have made it such an important force in American politics today. The chapter concludes by discussing the disruptive fundraising challenges that the MoveOn Effect poses for legacy advocacy groups. Drawing upon data from the Membership Communications Project dataset and new research by the Monitor Institute, it highlights the generational differences in online fundraising between new groups and old.

Keywords:   internet, interest groups, political advocacy, fundraising, organizational membership, netroots, MoveOn, political organizations, political economy

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