My latest article titled Beyond accessibility: Exploring digital inclusivity in U.S. progressive digital politics was published recently in the journal New Media & Society. This work, which is part of a journal special issue on Vulnerability and Digital Media, draws on the experience of digital organizers with disabilities in the 2020 U.S. election campaigns to sketch a new framework to understand and study inclusivity in online politics as a “process.” This breaks with the restrictive interpretation of inclusion as an “outcome” of digital political participation and is intended to open new avenues for elevating under-represented voices in political communication research and practice.
The 2020 U.S. election was a watershed moment for inclusivity in digital politics due to activist pressure, cultural change, and the pandemic. The article highlights key role of disabled advocates and digital organizers – both from inside campaign organizations and from outside through initiatives like #cripthevote – in making candidates and their organizations more responsive. With digital campaigning center stage during the pandemic, crisis again proved to be an innovation catalyst in digital politics. Now, the sustainability of digital inclusivity depends on whether cultural change that views disabled people as full citizens and a key group to mobilize takes root in political organizations for the long term.
Here below is a copy of the abstract, you can find the full paper here (please get in touch directly if you’d like a pre-print version):
This article explores inclusivity in the context of digital politics. As online campaigns and digital participation become increasingly central to democratic politics, it is essential to better understand the implications of this shift for marginalized and politically vulnerable people. Focusing on people with disabilities, this study applies a grounded theory approach to investigate what factors shape inclusivity in digital politics and begins to theorize this under-researched concept. Through interviews with self-advocates and election professionals with disabilities involved in innovative digital mobilization efforts for progressive US political organizations and campaigns, as well as a review of related strategies, this article illuminates digital inclusivity as a “process” connected to, but also distinct from the “outcomes” of social and political inclusion and exclusion. Key incentives and obstacles are identified, and emerging principles of digital inclusivity that are simultaneously community-rooted and sensitive to the context of contemporary US politics are discussed.