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globalization, politics, glocal, political activity, social media


Local elections are no longer just influenced by, marketed toward, or relevant to only a small, geographically constrained electorate. Social media increasingly connect politics to publics that may extend beyond politicians’ or issues’ local constituencies. Every election—from Senator to alderperson—has been rendered accessible and relevant to broad individuals, organizations, and interests. Now, campaigns—particularly in close races or battleground areas—can canvas beyond the local level to seek donations, campaign volunteers, or to encourage local residents to vote. Social media have become venues to demonstrate a candidate’s likability with users, which are parlayed into local goodwill and electability. And foreign nationals and governments increasingly are using social media to spread disinformation or to otherwise sway local issues. Ultimately, what was once a city, county, state, provincial, or national election can now play out on a global stage through social media, with all of the subsequent influence and impacts. This article uses several geographically dispersed and representative examples to exemplify the delocalization of the local election, including Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate Campaign (the US), the effect of nationwide social media popularity and interactivity on local election results (Taiwan and The Netherlands), and Russian influence in the 2016 Brexit Referendum (the UK). It concludes by calling for new understanding of what political involvement and political action may mean in a socially mediated society.


This article was published in Social Media + Society 6, no. 2 (2020): 1-4. DOI:

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