A lot of people thought the internet would help democratize the world.
More people and groups would have access to information, and the ability to mobilize from the ground up would gradually undermine concentrations of power—that was the idea, at least.
But the reality has been quite different: Instead of democratizing the world, the internet has destabilized it, creating new cleavages and reinforcing the power structure at the same time.
This is the story sociologist Jen Schradie tells in her new book The Revolution That Wasn’t. Schradie argues that technology is not only failing to level the playing field for activists, it’s actually making things worse by “creating a digital activism gap.” The differences in power and organization, she says, have undercut working-class movements and bolstered authoritarian groups.