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Daniel Kreiss, Ph.D., M.A. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Carrboro, NC, US

Daniel Kreiss, Ph.D., M.A. Daniel Kreiss, Ph.D., M.A.

Assistant Professor, School of Media and Journalism | UNC-Chapel Hill


Professor Kreiss’ research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice.



Daniel Kreiss, Ph.D., M.A. Publication




Experts at Carolina | Daniel Kreiss Technology-intensive Campaigning




Daniel Kreiss is Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Journalism and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kreiss’s research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. In Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford University Press, 2012), Kreiss presents the history of new media and Democratic Party political campaigning over the last decade. Kreiss is currently working on a second book project, provisionally titled Prototype Politics: The Making and Unmaking of Technological Innovation in the Republican and Democratic Parties, 2000-2014 (under contract with Oxford University Press and due out in 2016). Analytically, the book argues that Obama’s two successful bids for the presidency were premised on a new form of ‘networked ward politics’ – a data-driven, personalized, and socially-embedded form of campaigning that has developed in response to changes in American culture, social structure, and communication technologies.

Kreiss is an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and received a Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. Kreiss’s work has appeared in New Media and Society, Qualitative Sociology, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Research in Social Movements, Conflict, and Change, The Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and The International Journal of Communication, in addition to other academic journals.

Prior to this academic work, Kreiss worked for a number of political and nonprofit organizations in New York City and San Francisco, and was an active political blogger during and after earning an M.A. in Communication (Journalism) from Stanford University in 2004.

Industry Expertise (6)

Research Education/Learning Media - Online Media - Print Political Organization Social Media

Areas of Expertise (8)

Qualitative Research Higher Education Electoral Politics Political Parties Political Campaigns Digital Media Social Media Journalism Studies

Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D., Communication 2010

Stanford University: M.A., Communication (Journalism) 2004

Bates College: B.A., Political Science 1999

Affiliations (3)

  • Faculty Affiliate UNC Center for Media Law and Policy
  • Information Society Project at Yale Law School : Affiliated Fellow
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor Department of Communication Studies

Media Appearances (4)

Political Campaigns Are Wasteful—So Turn Them Into Startups

Wired  online


Professor Kreiss quoted in, “Political Campaigns Are Wasteful – So Turn Them into Startups.” Wired. October 28, 2015.

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The GOP Has a Tech Talent Problem It Might Not Solve

Wired  online


Professor Kreiss quoted in, “The GOP Has a Tech Talent Problem It Might Not Solve.” Wired. October 26, 2015.

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With '$Cashtags,' Twitter plays greater campaign finance role



Professor Kreiss quoted in, “With ‘$Cashtags,’ Twitter plays greater campaign finance role.” Reuters. September 16, 2015.

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Did Social Media Help Swing the Vote?

Wall Street Journal  online


Featured in, “Did Social Media Help Swing the Vote?” Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2012.

University of North Carolina professor Daniel Kreiss joins the News Hub to discuss how twitter was used in the campaigns and by voters during what's considered the first 'social election.'

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Event Appearances (2)

Citizenship, Engagement & Digital Media

Digital Media and the Future(s) of Democracy: Annual DCC Conference  University of Pennsylvania


Media in the Modern Campaign Age

Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy  The University of Iowa Public Policy Center


Articles (5)

Political performance, boundary spaces, and active spectatorship: Media production at the 2012 Democratic National Convention Journalism


We present the results of a 5-day, observation and interview-based, multi-sited field study of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. We combine literatures on journalistic and political fields with scholarship on performance theory to provide a framework for understanding conventions as contemporary media events. Through analysis of field notes, photographic documentation, and interview data, we detail the layered production of performance in the journalistic and political fields, revealing how performances were directed both internally and across fields for strategic advantage, as well as for co-present spectators and the public at-large. We argue that conventions provide ‘boundary spaces’ where actors from different fields gather and perform distinct democratic roles, as well as mediated, integrative spaces for the polity. Media events provide occasions for networked practices of ‘active spectatorship’ that offer citizens a means of control over the publicity of elites.

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The Virtues of Participation without Power: Campaigns, Party Networks, and the Ends of Politics The Sociological Quarterly


Following Francesca Polletta's call to reconsider participatory democracy in a new millennium, this article analyzes and makes a normative case for institutional and partisan forms of participation without decision making. I draw on field research and interviews conducted over the last decade on Democratic Party campaigns to argue against contemporary denunciations of partisanship and critiques of institutional participation by radical democrats. First, this article discusses the opportunities available for citizens to participate in electoral politics. Volunteering is often limited to fund-raising and instrumental voter contacts given the constraints of electoral institutions. Although campaign volunteerism is a fundamentally limited form of civic engagement, institutional and partisan participation has democratic value. Campaigns are institutionally linked to political parties that offer distinct moral, ideological, and policy choices to citizens. Recent analytical and empirical work shows that contemporary political parties are constituted by relatively coherent networks of civil society and social movement organizations that devote considerable resources to electoral politics to shape primary and general election outcomes and advance their agendas in governance. This reveals electoral participation to be tightly linked to larger partisan dynamics and institutional sites of power.

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The limits of peer production: Some reminders from Max Weber for the network society New Media & Society


In the last few years, a powerful consensus has emerged among scholars of digitally enabled peer production. In this view, digital technologies and social production processes are driving a dramatic democratization of culture and society. Moreover, leading scholars now suggest that these new, hyper-mediated modes of living and working are specifically challenging the hierarchical structures and concentrated power of bureaucracies. This paper first maps the assumptions underlying the new consensus on peer production so as to reveal the sources of its coherence. It then revisits Max Weber’s account of bureaucracy. With Weber in mind, the paper aims to expose analytical weaknesses in the consensus view and offer a new perspective from which to study contemporary digital media.

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New challenges to political privacy: Lessons from the first US Presidential race in the Web 2.0 era International Journal of Communication


Pundits and scholars laud online campaigning for its potential to democratize politics and praise the 2008 Barack Obama campaign for using new information technologies to mobilize voters. Underneath these extraordinary forms of technologically-enabled political participation, however, is an infrastructure and industry for political data that has received far less attention. To help fill this gap in scholarly understanding, we provide an overview of the data practices of political campaigns over the last decade and take a particularly close look at many of the new tools used by the Obama campaign. As a call for further research, we then outline a set of potential normative concerns about this use of data. We suggest that the data practices of campaigns and other political organizations may undermine important democratic norms. Campaigns erode privacy and narrow political debate by using data on citizens and social networks to tailor messages and communicate with narrowly-defined segments of voters. The lack of policy oversight erodes institutional transparency and leaves citizens vulnerable to breeches in personal data.

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Developing the “good citizen”: Digital artifacts, peer networks, and formal organization during the 2003–2004 Howard Dean campaign Journal of Information Technology & Politics


The 2003–2004 Howard Dean campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is often heralded as the prototypical example of peer-driven politics. Building from an emerging body of literature on the Dean campaign, through interviews with key staffers and a survey of public documents I complicate this view by analyzing the interplay between the formal campaign organization, digital artifacts, and citizen networks. I demonstrate that from the earliest days of the primary the campaign developed strategies and innovative organizational practices for convening and harnessing citizen networks. Drawing on analytical perspectives that combine Foucauldian “governmentality” and actor-network theory, I argue that this was facilitated through the deployment of a set of artifacts that realized and leveraged “networked sociality.” Finally, I argue that while the Internet Division of the campaign adopted many “postbureaucratic” practices, it was embedded in a formal organizational hierarchy that shaped its technical work.

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