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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 Fourteen: Communication Norms, Contexts of Socialization, and Youth Civic Development


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Communication Norms, Contexts OF Socialization, AND Youth Civic Development


Scholars and researchers working on political socialization have long recognized the importance of communication in socializing young people into competent and active citizens. In particular, a growing body of recent scholarship draws our attention to how interdependent communication processes located in the family, schools, media, and peer networks, jointly and independently, cultivate civic norms and competencies among young people (McLeod, 2000; Shah, McLeod, & Lee, 2009; Shah, Thorson, Wells, Lee, & McLeod, 2014). Turning away from the static functionalism that emphasized the acquisition of skills and norms for the maintenance of a political system, this recent wave of research on youth socialization has shifted its focus onto how young citizens develop key capacities and motives that are necessary to participate meaningfully and effectively in civic life (Bennett, 2008; McLeod & Shah, 2009). This view highlights the centrality of communicative phenomena in the home, at school, among peers, and through media in the growth of citizens’ democratic competencies and engagement motivations.

Notably missing in this rising interest in the communicative aspect of youth socialization processes, however, is any serious scholarly attempt to examine the role of various communication norms in influencing youth communication behavior in various sites of political socialization. The neglect of communicative norms is particularly noticeable in comparison with considerable bodies of research that incorporated social...

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