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Political Socialization in a Media-Saturated World

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Edited By Esther Thorson, Mitchell S. McKinney and Dhavan Shah

The studies that comprise Political Socialization in a Media Saturated World synthesize, question, and update our knowledge of political socialization that has accumulated over the past 40 years of related research. The scholarship advances innovative theoretical perspectives and develops new models of the socialization process that revolve around the key social structures of family, media, peers, and school. The Hierarchy Model of Political Socialization, in particular, provides a comprehensive conceptual framework for organizing and analyzing youth responses to the political. With research that spans multiple election cycles across nearly a decade, and data drawn from a national panel study that allows for cross-generational comparison, the findings and models of political socialization presented provide the most comprehensive and in-depth examination of youth political socialization that exists to date. This book provides a foundation and research agenda for examining the Millennial generation in the coming years as these citizens mature to adults and become the driving force of society and our polity.
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Chapter One: The Role of Media Use Motives in the Classic Structural Model of Youth Political Socialization

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CHAPTER ONE

The Role OF Media Use Motives IN THE Classic Structural Model OF Youth Political Socialization

ESTHER THORSON, HANS MEYER, AND MI JAHNG



This study explores how news media use, exposure to school political curriculum, political conversation with parents, and, most importantly, motivations for media use impact political socialization, which is operationalized here as political interest and knowledge. To provide a rationale for our study, we integrate five related literature areas under the explanatory context of the Media Choice Model, a variation on the uses and gratifications approach. The focus of this model is on how people make choices about media and how the impact of that media use is mediated through people’s motivations for using particular media. As background, we consider what is known about the following impacts on political socialization: parental communication patterns, political socialization training in school, exposure to television and print news, and adolescent news motivations directed at connectivity, information, and entertainment.

THE MOTIVES FOR MAKING MEDIA CHOICES

In the Media Choice Model, uses and gratifications theory guides an approach that specifically addresses how people, both adults and teens, choose media. The Media Choice Model suggests that new media features (immediacy, mobility, ease of use, presence of video or audio, dependence on text) influence the way people fill their communication needs and, as a result, develop preferred patterns of media use but modify those patterns as the media environment changes....

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