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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 Three: Political Advertising and the Hierarchy of Political Socialization in Teens

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CHAPTER THREE

Political Advertising AND THE Hierarchy OF Political Socialization IN Teens

ESTHER THORSON, EUNJIN KIM, AND MARGARET DUFFY



In the political socialization literature, family, school, the news media, and talking with others about politics are generally considered to have the most impact on how youth develop their interest, knowledge, and involvement in politics. More than thirty years of behavioral research, however, has also shown the significance of political advertising or direct persuasive messages (such as promotional e-mails) in the socialization process. This study attempts to add to our existing knowledge base by juxtaposing the impact of political advertising against the major structural causes of youth socialization, and comparing its impact to that of political news, both authoritative and opinionated.

The Media Choice Model (Thorson & Duffy, 2006; see Figure 1) suggests that all mass media messages have a “voice” that is expressed primarily in terms of who the source is and where they are located on the information-persuasion dimension. Traditional news, such as metropolitan newspapers or evening network television, is an “authoritative” source that presents its information as important and unbiased, and as being more informative than persuasive, sometimes even calling itself “objective,” although that claim is largely rejected by scholars of news (e.g., Chomsky, 2002; Schudson, 1997). Opinionated news claims to provide information of importance to all, but from the speaker’s point of view. Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, and MSNBC are good examples of opinionated...

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