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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 Fifteen: Measurement of Political Knowledge in American Adolescents

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Measurement OF Political Knowledge IN American Adolescents

ESTHER THORSON, SEOYEON KIM, AND JOONGHWA LEE



The purpose of the study reported in this chapter is to examine three subscales of a political knowledge test administered to high school students immediately after a November 2010 state election. Civics, Issue, and Political Player knowledge were related in different patterns to the variables that have most commonly been identified as stimuli for political learning: school-based political experiences, political discussions with others, news media exposure, and time spent with entertainment television. Our results support previous work on the assessment of citizens’ political knowledge, specifically Delli Carpini and Keeter’s (1996) argument that it is not theoretically useful to employ political knowledge scales that include a variety of unrelated questions about government structure and function, campaign issues, and candidates. The current analysis also extends research in this area as we focus specifically on the assessment of political knowledge among adolescents.

MEASUREMENT OF POLITICAL KNOWLEDGE IN AMERICAN ADOLESCENTS

What young people know about politics has long been considered a significant indicator of their progress toward becoming effective citizens, able to participate in political decision-making and to vote consistently with their own values and beliefs. Yet too often the operationalization of political knowledge is psychometrically poor, with scales including a randomly chosen set of questions, and with ← 289 | 290 → little attention to reliability or any form of validity (see critiques by Delli...

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