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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 Twenty: Is Dangerous News Use Dangerous? The Impact of Safe and Dangerous News Use on Political Socialization


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Is Dangerous News Use Dangerous?

The Impact of Safe and Dangerous News Use on Political Socialization


There is no disagreement that news use, in general, exerts some influence on political participation. For instance, newspapers were found to be more influential than television news in terms of increasing participation (McLeod & McDonald, 1985; Scheufele, Nisbet, Brossard, & Nisbet, 2004). Also, hard news is more influential than soft news (McLeod et al., 1996). But news is far from homogeneous.

The growth of news and opinion media sources in particular, from cable channels to Internet sources, has brought greater concern that Americans are becoming increasingly polarized politically (Stroud, 2008, 2010; Tsfati & Cappella, 2005). Some news organizations now make it entirely possible for one to create a media diet of almost purely liberal or purely conservative news, depending on one’s ideological partisanship. This is what we call safe news use. This construction of a protective silo of news and opinion that most likely generates a fairly consistent political viewpoint is also expected to affect young people as they develop their perspectives of the world. While the literature is saturated with how news use per se affects political socialization, existing research has not examined the possible impact of safe news use. Consumers of news, however, may also be exposed to news that is counter to one’s...

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