wealthier and more powerful network of civic organizations invested more time and money in
new media (in developing Facebook and LinkedIn pages, starting Twitter accounts, and
hyperlinking their Web sites to each other) than did the organizations in the less wealthy and
Civic groups in the pro- and anti-toll road interorganizational networks invested in new media,
but also, and more heavily, in old media and in on-the-ground tactics (cf, Hara and Jo, 2007).
Groups' levels of investment in new media reflected their levels of investment in old media and
on-the-ground tactics: the wealthier and better-connected network was able to invest more
because they had more to start with. As with any small-N comparative study, caution is needed
in drawing general conclusions from our study of the referendum on Proposition One. It is
certainly possible that the way wealthy Dallas business interests were able to quickly and
effectively mobilize against a grass roots campaign in this case is somewhat unique to Dallas,
which has a reputation as a generally business-friendly, politically conservative city.
Despite our study's limitations, we hope to have demonstrated that qualitative, on-the-ground
methods for analyzing both organizations and Web sites can contribute a great deal to our
understanding of the 'social topology of cyberspace' (Erbach, 2004). Our approach has followed
Hara and Estrada (2005) in arguing that online political activities must not be studied "as though
they were enacted in a closed world," but rather need to be studied at the grassroots, "in the real
world contexts in which they are embedded" , with the use of comparative research designs
when feasible. Such analyses have the potential to generate fresh insights and knowledge about
the effects of new media on politics. 15
About the authors
Gabe Ignatow is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of
North Texas in Denton, Texas. His research in the areas of globalization, new media, and social
theory has been published in journals such as Social Forces, International Sociology, and the
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
Direct comments to ignatow [at] unt [dot] edu
Jessica Lynn Schuett is a program coordinator for university membership and relations at the
National Council for Science and the Environment in Washington, D.C. She holds a B.A. from
Texas A&M University and an M.A. in sociology from the University of North Texas.
E-mail: Jschuett [at] NCSEonline [dot] org
Ignatow, Gabriel & Schuett, Jessica Lynn. Inter-organizational digital divide: Civic groups' media strategies in the Trinity River Corridor Project. [Chicago, Illinois]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc78305/. Accessed August 2, 2014.