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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 Eighteen: Young Citizens’ Use of Digital and Traditional Political Information

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Young Citizens’ Use OF Digital AND Traditional Political Information

J. BRIAN HOUSTON AND MITCHELL S. McKINNEY



If there is one constant in the modern American political environment, it is the continual evolution of the political news and information landscape. The United States was founded on the printed word, and since that time different forms of communication technologies have emerged on the American political scene affecting the ways citizens communicate and learn about politics (Pfau, Houston, & Semmler, 2007; Prior, 2007). In fact, the rate of political news source change appears to be accelerating. Cable and satellite television, the Internet, and now cell phones and smartphones have provided more diverse, tailored, and dynamic political information sources. As these new information forms have emerged and spread, the audience for older and more traditional forms of political information (e.g., newspapers, broadcast television news) has declined (Pew Research Center, 2010, 2011).

The current research attempts to make sense of the changing political news and information landscape by exploring young citizens’ political media use during a presidential campaign. We focus on the use of political news sources by young citizens because youth are the segment of society that most readily adopts new information technologies (Pew Research Center, 2010, 2011). Thus the current news use patterns of young citizens may portend what will constitute established and traditional information use patterns in the future. In this study we examine how the different...

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