The New Town Hall: Why We Engage Personally with Politicians

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ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2020 - Political Science - 171 pages

Drawing on in-depth interviews with a wide variety of people, this book answers two questions: How and why do we personally engage with elected officials online and offline? What influence does this personal political engagement have on our democracy?


Never before has it been so easy for Americans to make their personal views known to their elected officials. Citizens can tweet their opinions to their political representatives or respond to a Facebook post on politicians' pages to convey their approval or dislike for policies. They can engage politically through virtual town halls or show up in person at a protest easily organized through digital platforms. But this mediated relationship also makes it easy for politicians to push back against the opinions of their constituents by deriding their views or even blocking them online.

The New Town Hall gives readers a firsthand look at personal political experiences through vivid stories from a variety of Americans. Researcher and former journalist Gina Masullo documents how Americans feel when they are blocked on social media and demonstrates how political talk with elected officials--both online and offline--leads to more involved types of political participation, such as protests or campaigning for political candidates. She contextualizes these personal political experiences with an eye toward understanding how these interactions influence the democratic process.


  • Includes data and examples from a wide variety of interviews with citizens about their on- and offline interactions with politicians
  • Explains how political talk with elected officials online and offline leads to more involved types of political participation, such as protests and campaigning
  • Shows how politicians' refusal to communicate with citizens affects the democratic process
  • Demonstrates an accessible and down-to-earth tone

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About the author (2020)

Gina M. Masullo, PhD, is associate director of the Center for Media Engagement and an associate professor in the School of Journalism, both at The University of Texas at Austin.

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