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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 Two: A Hierarchy of Political Participation Activities in Pre-Voting-Age Youth

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CHAPTER TWO

A Hierarchy OF Political Participation Activities IN Pre-Voting-Age Youth

ESTHER THORSON, GLENN LESHNER, MI JAHNG, AND MARGARET DUFFY



Youth voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election was one of the highest in recent national elections (49% for those 18–25, up significantly from 2004). This increased participation, together with the sea change in digital devices and channels that people are using for communication, makes this particular election crucial to our understanding of political socialization processes in young citizens.

A first main idea tested in the current study is whether we can define a hierarchy of different levels of “effortfulness” and intentionality among various kinds of political participation and then predict the occurrence of each of those types. For example, talking to others about an election is generally less effortful than attending a political rally. Likewise, participating in school civic exercises is generally required of teens and therefore does not require effortful intentionality. It is also more effortful to participate in what has come to be called consumer politics (Stolle & Hooghe, 2004; Vogel, 2004) where people make statements about political issues such as sweatshop manufacturing by refusing to buy products made in those sweatshops.

Attending a rally and insisting on the purchase of free-range eggs require knowledge, planning, and thus extensive intentionality and effort. These forms of political participation are also likely greatly aided by parental help, although school, media exposure, and beliefs...

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