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Political Socialization through the Media

Dhavan V. Shah


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There is a great deal of controversy concerning the effects of mass communication on political socialization, in terms of both its size and direction (→  Media Effects ). Political socialization can be understood as the processes through which democratic societies instill the proper norms among their members to maintain social institutions and practices. Most research on this topic focuses on how individuals engage in political development and learn basic civic skills, with family, schooling, peer groups, and media serving as the major factors involved in this dynamic. Early studies focused on adolescence as a critical period for political socialization, though this has given way to lifelong learning models, attention to generational differences, and consideration of civic modes of participation alongside the political ( Sears & Levy 2003 ; Sapiro 2004 ). Media consumption (→  Exposure to Communication Content ) and →  social networks are increasingly central to models of political socialization that extend beyond adolescence to life stages when parental and educational influence is comparatively reduced. The relationships between these variables are not always viewed as complementary, with electronic media often considered the source of declining rates of social interaction. Some scholars even argue that television viewing and →  Internet use erode engagement in public life ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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