The book

Donald Trump, the Arab Spring, Brexit: digital media have provided political actors and citizens with new tools to engage in politics. These tools are now routinely used by activists, candidates, non-governmental organizations, and parties to inform, mobilize, and persuade people. But what are the effects of this retooling of politics? Do digital media empower the powerless or are they breaking democracy? Have these new tools and practices fundamentally changed politics or is their impact just a matter of degree? This clear-eyed guide steps back from hyperbolic hopes and fears to offer a balanced account of what aspects of politics are being shaped by digital media and what remains unchanged. The authors discuss data-driven politics, the flow and reach of political information, the effects of communication interventions through digital tools, their use by citizens in coordinating political action, and what their impact is on political organizations and on democracy at large.


Andreas Jungherr

University of Bamberg


Gonzalo Rivero

Pew Research


Daniel Gayo-Avello

Associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oviedo


What others are saying

Retooling Politics is simply the best book I have read on politics in the digital age. The authors show how political actors use legacy media, digital platforms, and data driven strategies to change how public information is produced, distributed, received, evaluated and used. This book updates the entire field with a timely focus on contemporary problems of democracy. It is destined to become a classic.

W. Lance Bennett

University of Washington

In this provocative, fresh account of the power of digital media in politics, the authors bundle insights from various fields to provide an accessible account of the many ways digital media are shaping contemporary politics. This timely and welcome book will be highly useful for anyone seeking to understand this complex and evolving issue.

Kenneth Benoit

London School of Economics and Political Science

This book gives a nuanced analysis of digital media in politics, focusing on political actors’ needs, flows and costs of information, and connections to publics. The authors offer readers a careful and systematic approach to the big question of whether digital media strengthen or undermine democracy.

Bruce Bimber

University of California, Santa Barbara

The effects of digital media on politics and democracy are far-reaching, diverse, quickly evolving, and difficult to grasp. Retooling Politics is an essential resource for anyone trying to make sense of the connection between digital media and politics – and to understand what we actually know about it.

Fabrizio Gilardi

University of Zurich

Jungherr, Rivero and Gayo-Avello’s Retooling Politics is simply exquisite. By all means this book represents one of the finest accounts I have come across to explain why and how digital media is the largest and most profound transformative power in today’s democracy. With a comprehensive, meticulous, and sharp use of the most current and influential literature in the social sciences, the authors build a brilliant and multi-disciplinary argument that will guide readers to better grasp how digital media has transformed our political realm.

Homero Gil de Zúñiga

University of Vienna

Retooling Politics offers a fresh and nuanced ‘needs-based’ framework for analyzing the effects of digital media on political life. This is a necessary book that cuts through hyperbole in its grounded, procedural analysis of what has actually changed in politics, from how organizations pursue their ends to the voices that count in public life.

Daniel Kreiss

UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life

All over the world, old political goals are pursued with new political tools. Retooling Politics’ needs-based approach presents a nuanced new way of thinking about the impact not on specific political outcomes, or on the basic goals of political actors, but on the practical and institutional process of politics. Thus, this book will help combat the catchy but simplistic narratives advanced by digital cheerleaders and doom-mongers and contribute to more realistic and evidence-based alternatives.

Rasmus Nielsen

University of Oxford

This book offers a fresh and comprehensive perspective on the needs that digital media fulfill in the context of democratic politics. The wide-ranging analysis explores the needs that digital media provides for political organizations, for the spread of information, and for enabling collective action in the broadest sense.

Jennifer Stromer-Galley

Syracuse University


  • Regina Lawrence. (2022) Book Review: Andreas Jungherr / Gonzalo Rivero / Daniel Gayo-Avello (2020): Retooling Politics. How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. International Journal of Press/Politics. doi:10.1177/19401612221073994 (Online First).
  • Gerhard Vowe. (2021) Book Review: Andreas Jungherr / Gonzalo Rivero / Daniel Gayo-Avello (2020): Retooling Politics. How Digital Media are Shaping Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. M&K: Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft (3/2021), pp. 439-440.