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Poaching Politics

Online Communication During the 2016 US Presidential Election


Paul Booth, Amber Davisson, Aaron Hess and Ashley Hinck

The 2016 US election was ugly, divisive, maddening, and influential. In this provocative new book, Paul Booth, Amber Davisson, Aaron Hess, and Ashley Hinck explore the effect that everyday people had on the political process. From viewing candidates as celebrities, to finding fan communities within the political spectrum, to joining others online in spreading (mis)information, the true influence in 2016 was the online participant.

Poaching Politics brings together research and scholars from media studies, political communication, and rhetoric to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the role of participatory cultures in shaping the 2016 US presidential election. Poaching Politics heralds a new way of creating and understanding shifts in the nature of political communication in the digital age.

Poaching Politics provides a timely and much-needed examination of the unique political moment in which we currently find ourselves. Drawing on extensive work within fan studies and participatory culture, the authors do an excellent job of explaining how our political discourse became dominated by talk of Deplorables, trolls, memes, and the ‘alt-right.’ If you want to understand what online politics in the Trump era truly looks like, read this book.”—Adrienne Massanari, University of Illinois at Chicago

“If you want to understand what memes, gifs, and trolls mean for the modern political consciousness, read this book. Compelling, current, and fun to read, Poaching Politics explains how publics use media to be heard, to connect, and to effect change.”—Zizi Papacharissi, Professor and Head of Communication, Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois-Chicago

“Scholars of political communication have long known of the complex interrelationships that exist between politics, popular culture, emotion, and power—these dimensions of our public life again came into stark relief during the 2016 US presidential campaign. So many Americans, so many around the world, asked themselves a very simple question on November 9, 2016: What just happened here? Poaching Politics: Online Communication During the 2016 US Presidential Election offers a partial, and quite compelling, answer to this complex question. Using a wide range of both theory and criticism, drawing from a large literature in political communication and popular culture, the authors of Poaching Politics provide a fascinating and illuminating glimpse at some of the under-examined elements of contemporary political life emergent from the 2016 election. Not content to simply describe, and ever-aware of the public importance of their work, these insightful scholars teach us much about the 2016 campaign and about the future of political communication in an increasingly complex, fan-soaked, celebrity-fixated, trolling political culture in the United States and around the globe.”—Trevor Parry-Giles, University of Maryland

“On November 9, 2016, America woke up from a bender. Fortunately, like a good friend or therapist, Poaching Politics helps us piece together what the hell happened. Smartly written and earnestly hopeful, this book examines a new kind of digital politics affecting our elections.”—Lisa Ellen Silvestri, Author of Friended at the Front: Social Media in the American War Zone