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Political Socialization in a Media-Saturated World


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 Seven: Parenting Styles in Political Socialization: How the Path to Political Participation Begins at Home


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Parenting Styles IN Political Socialization

How the Path to Political Participation Begins at Home


The pathways of influence from parents to their children are complex in that parental influence is thought to compete with other socialization agents, including the media, the influence of peers, and children’s school experiences (Shah, McLeod, & Lee, 2009). The current study is an attempt to shed light on how the influences of these agents interact. In a survey of parents and their children during the 2010 mid-term election in a large Midwest city, we look at two ways that parents mediate their children’s media experiences and the role this plays in the causal pathways to development of children’s political orientations. Parents can restrict media access in an attempt to protect children from harmful media content. They can also actively mediate their children’s media use by suggesting reliable news sources, pointing out what may be wrong with news content, or asking what their children think about the news. These parental mediation styles, evaluative or restrictive, have been studied previously (see, for instance, Austin, 1993; Austin & Pinkleton, 2001; Nathanson, 1999, 2002), but it is not clear how they affect the relationships between parents’ and children’s political interest, knowledge, and participation.

It should be noted that the effects of parental mediation are not always direct. Though children get their first introductions to news...

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