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Political Knowledge

William P. Eveland, Jr. and Myiah Hutchens Hively


One of the foundational assumptions of democratic theory is that the public must be sufficiently informed about public matters in order to be capable of fulfilling their roles in making collective decisions. The centrality of an informed public in democratic theory has made the study of political knowledge integral to the study of political communication. Much of the research on political knowledge addresses one of two main questions: Is the public sufficiently politically knowledgeable to sustain an effective democracy? and: What role does communication play in the creation and maintenance of an informed citizenry? (→  Deliberativeness in Political Communication ; Public ; Public Opinion ; Public Sphere ). But to begin, it is important to define political knowledge. Various terms are used to address the concept of political knowledge . For instance, the term “political sophistication” often includes knowledge or awareness of political matters as a central component. Some also incorporate political interest, political participation, political discussion, and news media use in definitions of political sophistication. However, a number of scholars have noted that, at its core, political sophistication is about knowledge of the political realm. Thus, political sophistication is a concept very closely related to political knowledge. Another commonly employed term that shares much ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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