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The Citizen Marketer: Promoting Political Opinion in the Social Media Age is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book editions.

Winner of the 2018 Best Book Award in Information Technology    and Politics from the American Political Science Association

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"This is a must-read book for anyone looking to understand the ways that citizens are taking up the marketing of political candidates and causes in the social media era." - Daniel Kreiss, Author of Prototype Politics: Technology-Intensive Campaigning and the Data of Democracy

"The Citizen Marketer helps us dig into real campaigns and real campaigners whose work sometimes proceeds in the spirit of democracy, and sometimes degrades democracy. Understanding modern political communication means getting to know the varied forms of computational propaganda that we all produce and consume." - Philip Howard, Author of Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

"Joel Penney provides a compelling, nuanced, and rich exploration of how marketing logic and civic self-expression are morphing and combining in the digital age. It is an essential book for all interested in politics, marketing, and public life." -David Karpf, Author of The MoveOn Effect and Analytic Activism


From hashtag activism to the flood of political memes, grassroots circulation of opinion online is changing the landscape of political communication. By exploring how everyday people promote messages to persuade their peers and shape the public mind, Joel Penney offers a new framework for understanding the phenomenon of viral political communication: the citizen marketer. The discussion is grounded in testimony of citizens who have changed their profile pictures to protest symbols, tweeted links to articles about select issues, or displayed anything from slogan T-shirts to viral videos that promote favored politicians. In contrast to the “slacktivism” critique often leveled at these media-centered forms of activism, Penney argues that they enable citizens to take on the role of viral political marketers as they participate in the networked spread of ideas. Furthermore, Penney examines the risks that these practices pose for increasing polarization and partisanship, the trivialization of issues, and manipulation by political elites.