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James E. Katz – Social Media and Citizen Participation: Lessons from the Obama Campaign and Administration

Friday, April 22, 2011
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food at 12:30 pm. Discussion begins at 12:45 pm. Everyone invited.

During the 2008 presidential contest, the Obama campaign used social media in innovative ways and with great effect. Also prominent in the campaign was a promise to use social media to provide direct and meaningful democratic involvement in federal policy-making and governance and to generate new policy initiatives. Yet in many areas these declarations have not been translated into practice. By analyzing specific examples from the Obama campaign and administration of the use and failure to use social media, it is possible to discern reasons why progress towards ambitious goals for citizen participation remains extremely modest.

Biographical Statement:

James E. Katz, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Rutgers University where he also directs the Center for Mobile Communication Studies. Katz holds the rank of Professor II, Rutgers’ highest professorial rank and which is reserved for those who have achieved national and international eminence in their field.

Professor Katz has devoted much of his career to exploring the social consequences of new communication technology, especially the mobile phone and Internet. Currently he is looking at how personal communication technologies can be used by teens from urban environments to engage in informal science and health learning. This research is being carried out through an NSF-sponsored project with New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center.

Among his recent awards are the 2009 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Twentieth Century Communications History (Italy) and election as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of America’s most important scientific societies.

Katz has been granted two patents in the telecommunication realm and has won fellowships at Princeton, Harvard and MIT. He is also the author of more than 50 refereed journal articles. His books, which include Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life and Social Consequences of Internet Use: Access, Involvement, Expression, have been translated into Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. His latest volume, published by MIT Press, is Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies.

Prior to coming to Rutgers, Professor Katz headed the social science research unit at Bell Communications Research. Among the schools at which Katz has taught is University of Texas, Austin, where he also served as chair of the Austin World Affairs Council. Katz is frequently interviewed about his research by the press, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, as well as network news programs and PBS NewsHour.

CITP studies digital technologies in public life. It is a joint venture of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Woodrow Wilson School.