I’ve read a few papers by Girish J Gulati and Christine B Williams at Bentley University. Their work on social media adoption and Congress is super helpful to my work and I’m seeing some interesting themes with Congress and trends within technology through their work.
In this paper, Gulati and Williams look into the adoption of Facebook as a political platform in Congressional campaigns, with a diffusion of innovation lens. They find that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats in their adoption. However there are certain trends in reasons for adoption that change each year.
By 2010, 92% of major party candidates adopted websites. 3/4s of those candidates had a social media site like FB, Twitter, and Youtube
In 2006, Facebook launched a section called “Election Pulse” for generic political profiles for candidates
In 2007, Facebook gave political candidates pages instead of profiles
In 1998, Early adopters of homepages on the world wide web tended to be Republicans, Young Legislators, and Reps from electorally marginal districts (Alder et al, 1998)
When the websites for campaigns first emerged, citizen access correlated to campaign website adoption. Thats most likely because they candidates wanted to match the constituency use of technology. However, that has now changed. However, now a days constituency factors like citizen access don’t seem to correlate to adoption, because now everyone is using it. Instead, strategic factors became key drivers of adoption.
Financial resources became the most important predictor of adoption in 2012.
Once again, this is a study about campaign strategy. However it seems logical that any adoption of technology in campaigns will overlap to the use of technology within Congress, no? So this paper is helpful at situating some forms of adoption.
What this paper does not do is look in the whys and hows. Why has this adoption spread? Because citizens are more online? And how it effected or not effected communication with the constituency they are running for?
This paper has some useful quantitative tools and a nice timeline of adoption, but I’m still curious to know the impact of such adoption on candidacy and subsequent use of technology in office.