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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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Introduction: Theorizing Political Socialization in a Media-Saturated World

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Introduction

Theorizing Political Socialization in a Media-Saturated World

ESTHER THORSON, MITCHELL S. McKINNEY, AND DHAVAN SHAH



Political socialization is the developmental process whereby children and youth learn to relate to their polity—to democratic principles, to political parties, and to the ideas and values associated with the political realm. This book brings together a unique cluster of recent studies examining youth political development during a critical time for such socialization. Specifically, the chapters that follow explore a rapidly changing period when digital communication channels and devices continue to emerge almost on a daily basis, where political content is now available 24/7 thanks to these omnipresent channels and devices, and with political communication content now far more diverse than in the days when only network television, radio and television news, and news magazines constituted our dominant political media.

Also during the period of time when the studies found in this book were conducted (from 2007–2014), the American electorate witnessed the rapid growth of a generation of citizens called Millennials (those individuals born between 1980 and 1997), who represent the first generation to come of age in the new millennium and our very first generation of “digital natives” who have been completely immersed in digital technologies throughout their entire lives. As Palfrey and Gasser (2008) pointed out, “These kids are different. They study, work, write, and interact with each other in ways that are...

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