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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 Thirteen: From News to Political Knowledge: The Roles of Elaboration and Discussion

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

From News TO Political Knowledge

The Roles of Elaboration and Discussion

EDSON TANDOC AND ESTHER THORSON



For democracy to survive, political participation among its citizens is paramount. One’s inclination to participate in politics, however, is not shaped overnight. Political engagement represents a continuous process that most likely begins in an individual’s formative years, and one’s political socialization begins much earlier than the voting age. It is true, though, that we cannot expect adolescents to display political behaviors that necessarily model the actions of the supposed “good citizen” that are often articulated in our political communication literature. For instance, adolescents are too young to donate money to political campaigns, attend political rallies on their own, or even exercise the most frequent measure of political participation, that of voting during elections.

Though political attitudes are understandably unstable at younger ages, political knowledge represents a measurable aspect of political socialization even among young people (Eveland, McLeod, & Horowitz, 1998). Our attention to political knowledge among adolescents rests on the assumption that such knowledge may well lead to political participation. While the political socialization literature does not entirely agree on whether or not political knowledge among adolescents leads to future political participation, at least one study has demonstrated that political knowledge among adults ultimately influences propensity to vote (Valentino, 2007). Of course, learning about politics can work both ways. While acquiring relevant news regarding election campaigns may...

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