Communication Studies, Department of


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Published in Journal of Information Technology & Politics 7 (2010), pp. 124–142; doi: 10.1080/19331681003748933 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


The present study employs both qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine the discourse of leadership in the YouTube video clips of 16 candidates who competed in the 2008 U.S. presidential race. The introduction and farewell videos of the candidates included on the YouChoose portion of YouTube are inductively analyzed for leadership utterances. Common categories are constructed through a grounded theory approach, while frequencies of the appearance of leadership traits are discovered through a content analysis of the data. The findings are then compared with relevant literature to determine the nature of presidential campaigns within the participatory culture of YouTube. The study suggests that the YouChoose videos favor the candidate’s character over political experience and explores the possibility that the medium promotes passive (rather than active) political engagement on the part of the user. The idea of the construction of the YouTube audience as a “postmodern constituency” is also proposed. Finally, the implications of the study are discussed.

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