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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 Twelve: Youngsters’ Political Talk With Those Outside School and Family: The Hierarchy of Political Socialization


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Youngsters’ Political Talk With Those Outside School AND Family

The Hierarchy of Political Socialization


The study of political socialization of children and youth has gone in and out of vogue for the last 100 years. (Niemi, 1973) In the ‘60s and ‘70s, most of the focus on causal factors centered primarily on family and secondarily on schools (Niemi, 1973). There was little attention to the possible effects of media. As McLeod and Shah (2009) pointed out, the ‘90s saw a sharp increase of interest in the role of communication, both interpersonal and mass, in socialization. One of the salient findings of current research is that teenagers, who may be moving away from primary parental influence toward the influences—certainly—of school and also of media content and interactions with others, show a complex of responsiveness to media, interpersonal communication, and the interaction of the two (Hively & Eveland, 2009; McDevitt & Ostrowski, 2009; Mutz, 1998).

Shah and his colleagues (Shah, McLeod, & Lee, 2009) argued that political socialization research must move beyond an examination of knowledge and norms to a consideration of how young people acquire basic motives and skills to participate meaningfully and effectively in public life. The approach we explore in the current study is a test of the assumption that political socialization can be considered a hierarchy of stages of attention, learning, interpersonal...

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