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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 Sixteen: Political Knowledge and Participation in Teens During Low and High Political Interest Periods of a Presidential Election

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Political Knowledge AND Participation IN Teens

During Low and High Political Interest Periods of a Presidential Election

ESTHER THORSON, MI JAHNG, AND MITCHELL S. McKINNEY



This study examines how the three structural variables most closely associated with political socialization—family, school, and child demographics—along with news media exposure and cognitive attitudinal features of the youth predict political knowledge and political participation during three time periods surrounding a presidential election: 6 months before the 2008 presidential election, 6 weeks immediately following the election, and 6 months after the election. All three surveys of the Future Voters Study (as described in the Introduction) were employed, and thus the data involve the same parents and children, but at three time points. As might be expected, self-reported political interest during these three time periods was highest right after the election, and lower before the election and 6 months after the election. This longitudinal panel study provides an excellent opportunity to examine factors that are known to affect political knowledge and participation under very different political involvement levels.

Of course, given our analysis involved repeated measures administered to the same parents and children at each time point, with the inevitable dropout over time, there are the usual challenges of longitudinal data. Fortunately, however, there was remarkable consistency in sample measures across time.

A MODEL OF POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION

The model of political socialization guiding...

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