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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 Eight: The Importance of Family Communication Patterns and School Civics Experiences

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CHAPTER EIGHT

The Importance OF Family Communication Patterns AND School Civics Experiences

CHANG DAE HAM, JOONGHWA LEE, AND ESTHER THORSON



This study examines how news media exposure, parent-child communication patterns, and political and social discussions and activities independently and interactively influence adolescent political knowledge and interest. Of course, the 2008 presidential election remains a highly significant electoral contest to examine as youth involvement in the election of Barack Obama was particularly high (e.g., Soule & Nairne, 2009).

Much of the work on political participation has concluded that Americans are showing a diminished interest in politics. Since 1960 the overall voting rate has dropped in both presidential and congressional elections (Brody, 1978; Cassell & Luskin, 1988; Keeter, Zukin, Andolina, & Jenkins, 2002). Other political participation behaviors such as petitioning and attending rallies have also decreased (Putnam, 2000). In fact, over the past 4 decades, the voting rate of American youth has dropped more dramatically than all other age groups (see Delli Carpini, 2000). In understanding the apparent reversal in this trend as was witnessed in the 2008 presidential election, adolescents, as future voters, present a critical age cohort for political communication researchers to explore. Among all age groups, in fact, voters between the ages of 18 and 24 were the only group that demonstrated a statistically significant increase in turnout, representing an approximately 4% to 5% increase (an estimated 53–55% youth participation) compared with their turnout in...

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