Communication Civic/Political Participation
by
Michael A. Xenos
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0142

Introduction

Whether in its deliberative aspect or other variants, democracy is in many ways a form of government fundamentally based on processes of communication and persuasion. As such, it is only natural that communications scholars should be interested in studying relationships between communication processes and civic or political engagement. These studies have traditionally drawn on scholarship in political science, which has an even longer standing engagement with concepts of political and civic engagement. More recently, the increasing significance of interactive communication technologies in the realm of politics and broader forces of sociotechnical change have opened the door for communications scholars to join in fundamental conceptual discussions concerning these topics. More often, however, communication scholarship, particularly through the interdisciplinary field of political communication, has focused on civic and political engagement as a set of outcome variables that, given their central place in democratic governance, provide opportunities for scholarship with particular relevance and value to the broader society. Along these lines, political communication research has investigated the effects of various kinds of communication and media on civic or political engagement, including interpersonal interactions, newspapers and television, political advertising, talk radio, and political entertainment programming as well as many communication phenomena related to the Internet.

Core Concepts

The conceptualization of civic and political participation has its roots in political science, but, more recently, even fundamental theorizing about the nature of civic and political participation has become the province of political communication research. This interdisciplinarity has been fueled, in part, by efforts to expand these concepts beyond their more traditional formulations, which view political or civic engagement largely in terms of formal acts of participation intended to affect government policy or the selection of those who make government policy (e.g., Verba, et al. 1995, cited under Political Participation). These discussions about what “counts” as civic/political engagement are also closely related to scholarship concerning the extent to which contemporary communication processes and other forces are contributing to new societal norms about what civic/political engagement means.

Political Participation

The most traditional conceptualizations of political participation focus on acts and behaviors such as voting (Milbrath and Goel 1982, Patterson 2002), contacting public officials, and donating time or money to the campaigns of individuals running for public office. The foundational work in this area explains variations in these kinds of political participation based on socioeconomic status and associated resources (Brady, et al. 1995; Verba, et al. 1995; Schlozman, et al. 2012) as well as the significance of these kinds of variations (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980). Other works examine the role played by other forces (Rosenstone and Hansen 1993) and methodological concerns (Dylko 2010).

  • Brady, H. E., S. Verba, and K. L. Schlozman. 1995. Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. American Political Science Review 89.2: 271–294.

    DOI: 10.2307/2082425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article provides a succinct version of most of the central arguments associated with Verba, et al. 1995. The authors propose to go beyond explanations of participation based only on socioeconomic status by exploring specific resources (often related to socioeconomic status) that help explain variations in political engagement.

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    • Dylko, I. B. 2010. An examination of methodological and theoretical problems arising from the use of political participation indexes in political communication research. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 22.4: 523–534.

      DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edq032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This paper examines the nearly universal research practice of operationalizing participation as a count made up of several distinct participatory acts in which individuals may or may not engage. The author provides a number of arguments, both theoretical and empirical, against such an approach to measuring political participation.

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      • Milbrath, L. W., and M. L. Goel. 1982. Political participation: How and why do people get involved in politics? 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America

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        Originally published in 1965. This relatively early and often overlooked work provides a comprehensive treatment of political participation. Milbrath and Goel consider conceptual issues, a variety of now-familiar explanatory factors and empirical patterns as well as broader normative and systemic questions.

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        • Patterson, T. E. 2002. The vanishing voter: Public involvement in an age of uncertainty. New York: Knopf.

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          This book provides a relatively recent look at declines in US voter turnout from the 1960s forward. A variety of explanations for decreasing voter turnout are considered, ranging from measurement issues to significant changes in major institutions such as political parties and the news media.

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          • Rosenstone, S. J., and J. M. Hansen. 1993. Mobilization, participation, and democracy in America. New York: Macmillan.

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            In this work, the authors examine a variety of factors that help explain variations in political participation. Though resources such as education, income, and social position are found to play important roles, special attention is paid to mobilization efforts (such as contacting prospective voters directly) undertaken by political elites and campaigns.

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            • Schlozman, K. L., S. Verba, and H. E. Brady. 2012. The unheavenly chorus: Unequal political voice and the broken promise of American democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              This book revisits and extends the authors’ earlier landmark work, Voice and Equality (Verba, et al. 1995), in light of dramatic increases in inequality that have developed over the past twenty years. The analysis also considers the extent to which the Internet may attenuate or reinforce fundamental inequalities in political voice.

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              • Verba, S., K. L. Schlozman, and H. E. Brady. 1995. Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                This classic and award-winning book advances what is likely the most dominant theoretical framework for understanding political participation in contemporary social science. The “civic voluntarism model” examines participation as a function of resources (including time and money), (psychological) engagement, and recruitment (by parties or other political actors).

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                • Wolfinger, R. E., and S. J. Rosenstone. 1980. Who votes? Cambridge, MA: Yale Univ. Press.

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                  This book is another essential work in the area of understanding the demographic correlates of voting, the most conventional and iconic form of political participation. This work is also known for its conclusion that, for the most part, the policy preferences of voters do not substantially differ from those of nonvoters.

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                  Social Capital and Civic Engagement

                  An important set of currents in discussions concerning traditional versus more contemporary forms of civic and political engagement comes from research on social capital (Coleman 1988) and civic engagement (Putnam 1993). In many ways, this work is defined by a cleavage between those who follow Putnam’s work (Putnam 1995, Putnam 2000) on the decline of social capital and civic engagement, and those who contend that social capital and citizen engagement are not in decline so much as they are in a state of transformation (Bennett 1998; Zukin, et al. 2006). Some scholars even question whether a single concept is adequate to cover the different forms of civic engagement (Berger 2011).

                  • Bennett, W. L. 1998. The uncivic culture: Communication, identity, and the rise of lifestyle politics. PS: Political Science and Politics 31.4: 740–761.

                    DOI: 10.2307/420711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    This essay (actually a transcript of a keynote address) provides a counterpoint to Putnam’s widely discussed civic decline thesis (Putnam 1995, Putnam 2000). Bennett provides an account of emergent patterns of “lifestyle politics” that would later find further expression in a variety of political communication studies on civic engagement and political consumerism.

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                    • Berger, Ben. 2011. Attention deficit democracy: The paradox of civic engagement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                      This work advances the provocative thesis that the concept of civic engagement should be abandoned. Concerned that “civic engagement” has become an empty catch-all, Berger proposes a variety of more specific conceptions of engagement (political, moral, social) to take its place.

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                      • Coleman, J. S. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94: S95–S120.

                        DOI: 10.1086/228943Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This essay provides a fundamental concept explication for social capital. It is generally considered the seminal conceptual statement on social capital as a human resource.

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                        • Putnam, R. D. 1993. Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                          Though less often cited than Bowling Alone (Putnam 2000), this earlier work provides a foundational account of the importance of social capital. Drawn to investigate the puzzle of relatively large disparities between northern and southern Italy, Putnam examines the role played by social capital in explaining a variety of aggregate-level differences.

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                          • Putnam, R. D. 1995. Tuning in, tuning out: The strange disappearance of social capital in America. PS: Political Science and Politics 28.4: 664–683.

                            DOI: 10.2307/420517Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            This essay provides an early and more succinct version of arguments that would become much more developed and elaborate in Bowling Alone (Putnam 2000). Within the field of communication, the essay is best known for identifying television as a primary culprit in the decline of social capital in the United States.

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                            • Putnam, R. D. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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                              This work is widely considered the quintessential articulation of Putnam’s civic decline thesis. Using a wide variety of data sources, Putnam describes declines in social capital in the United States since the 1960s, based on numerous indicators. A variety of factors, including generational replacement, are identified and considered as possible explanations.

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                              • Zukin, C., S. K., M. Andolina, K. Jenkins, and M. X. Delli Carpini. 2006. A new engagement? Political participation, civic life, and the changing American citizen. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                This award-winning book provides an in-depth look at generational shifts in the nature of citizen engagement in the United States, with particular attention to younger cohorts (Generation X and Millennials). This work is also known for providing a useful account of civic versus political engagement, based on a wealth of empirical data.

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                                Digital Participation

                                The rise of the Internet as a medium of political participation has led to a number of studies focused on online activity as a form of political and civic engagement. These works explore the online political behaviors of bloggers (Gil de Zúñiga, et al. 2010), Internet activists (Earl, et al. 2010), and young people (Ward, et al. 2003; Weaver, et al. 2011). Other works in this area pursue comparisons between forms of online political participation and their offline counterparts (Best and Krueger 2005, Krueger 2006).

                                • Best, S. J., and B. S. Krueger. 2005. Analyzing the representativeness of Internet political participation. Political Behavior 27.2: 183–216.

                                  DOI: 10.1007/s11109-005-3242-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  This study applies dominant political science models of political participation to online activities such as using the Internet to contact elected officials, signing online petitions, or engaging in persuasion or other political activities online. The authors specifically probe questions concerning whether online participation follows patterns similar to off-line participation.

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                                  • Earl, J., K. Kimport, G. Prieto, C. Rush, and K. Reynoso. 2010. Changing the world one webpage at a time: Conceptualizing and explaining Internet activism. Mobilization 15.4: 425–446.

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                                    In this study, a typology of Internet activism is developed with the goal of understanding the relative frequency of different kinds of online engagement. Results suggest that variation in the attention paid by researchers to different kinds of online activism may not correspond to empirical variations.

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                                    • Gil de Zúñiga, H., A. Veenstra, E. Vraga, and D. Shah. 2010. Digital democracy: Re-imagining pathways to political participation. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 7:36–51.

                                      DOI: 10.1080/19331680903316742Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      This paper points to blog readers as a unique group whose behaviors are relevant to understanding how conceptions of political engagement based on the work of Verba, et al. 1995 (cited under Political Participation) might be expanded. The findings highlight new, hybrid forms of participation in which online and off-line activities are mutually reinforcing.

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                                      • Krueger, B. S. 2006. A comparison of conventional and Internet political mobilization. American Politics Research 34.6: 759–776.

                                        DOI: 10.1177/1532673X06290911Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        This study examines variations in online mobilization in an effort to determine the relative importance of traditional predictors of offline participation versus factors such as Internet skills. Results suggest that, while Internet skills powerfully explain online mobilization, factors explaining offline mobilization continue to play a substantial role in online participation.

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                                        • Ward, S., R. Gibson, and W. Lusoli. 2003. Online participation and mobilisation in Britain: Hype, hope and reality. Parliamentary Affairs 56.4: 652–668.

                                          DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsg108Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          This paper engages debates over whether digital media may stimulate participation (mobilization) or merely extend existing patterns related to offline participation (reinforcement). Findings from data gathered in the United Kingdom suggest that the Internet is not universally removing barriers to participation but some mobilization patterns are visible, particularly among youth.

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                                          • Weaver Lariscy, R., S. F. Tinkham, and K. D. Sweetser. 2011. Kids these days: Examining differences in political uses and gratifications, Internet political participation, political information efficacy, and cynicism on the basis of age. American Behavioral Scientist 55.6: 749–764.

                                            DOI: 10.1177/0002764211398091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            This paper examines relationships among the use of specific political Internet tools, political efficacy, and political cynicism through a uses and gratifications approach. In particular, the study explores generational patterns with regard to the extent to which online political activity relates to empowerment and cynicism.

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                                            Discursive Participation

                                            Although they are explored more often as influences on civic and political participation, political talk and conversation are also considered by some to be forms of engagement in their own right, worthy of scholarly attention similar to that given to voting or other conventional participatory activities (Bennett, et al. 2000; Jacobs, et al. 2009; Wyatt, et al. 2000). Some work in this area explores the ways in which informal political conversation serves important political functions for individuals (Gamson 1992, Walsh 2004), though some caution against attributing too much significance to mere sociable conversation about public affairs (Schudson 1997).

                                            • Bennett, S. E., R. S. Flickinger, and S. L. Rhine. 2000. Political talk over here, over there, over time. British Journal of Political Science 30:99–119.

                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0007123400000053Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This study uses data collected in the United States and the United Kingdom that spans from the 1950s to the 1990s to examine the frequency with which citizens engage in political talk and the effects of political discussion. The authors argue that political discussion is a stable and important form of political participation.

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                                              • Gamson, W. A. 1992. Talking politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                This classic work on political discussion explores the ways in which ordinary citizens make sense of the political world through everyday conversation. Using qualitative methods, Gamson reveals the extent to which individuals draw on media content, their own experiences, and popular wisdom in political discussion.

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                                                • Jacobs, L. R., F. Lomax Cook, and M. X. Delli Carpini. 2009. Talking together: Public deliberation and political participation in America. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226389899.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This book presents evidence from studies designed to examine the frequency and import of public deliberation in the United States. Findings suggest that political discussion and talk may be more common than is often assumed, and that we should view these forms of engagement as an essential dimension of political participation.

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                                                  • Schudson, M. 1997. Why conversation is not the soul of democracy. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 14.4: 297–309.

                                                    DOI: 10.1080/15295039709367020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    In this essay, Schudson makes a critical distinction between different kinds of political talk. Contrasting mere sociable conversation that may relate to politics with more substantive and often uncomfortable talk oriented toward significant political conflicts, Schudson argues that not all forms of political discussion should be considered equally valuable.

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                                                    • Walsh, K. C. 2004. Talking about politics: Informal groups and social identity in American life. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                      In this work, Walsh examines the value of informal political talk as a critical mechanism through which citizens make sense of politics. Particular emphasis is placed on how political talk helps individuals develop social identities that can be used to further interpret the political world.

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                                                      • Wyatt, R. O., E. Katz, and J. Kim. 2000. Bridging the spheres: Political and personal conversation in public and private spaces. Journal of Communication 50.1: 71–92.

                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02834.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        This study explores everyday political conversation in a variety of contexts, including in the home, at work, and in civic or community organizations and settings. The authors examine relationships between political conversation and the quality of citizen opinions as well as other forms of political participation.

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                                                        Political Consumerism

                                                        One particularly vibrant subarea of scholarship on forms of civic and political participation other than campaign- and government-related activities is work on political consumerism. Key works in this area explore how citizens all over the world express political interests through “shopping bag politics” (Forno and Ceccarini 2006) and other consumer behaviors (Stolle, et al. 2005; McFarland 2011; Michiletti and McFarland 2011), as well as the extent to which variation in these forms of political participation compares to variations in more traditional forms of political engagement. As with more traditional forms of political participation, it is also important to understand how political consumerism may vary based on standard demographic variables (Marien, et al. 2010).

                                                        • Forno, F., and L. Ceccarini. 2006. From the street to the shops: The rise of new forms of political actions in Italy. South European Society and Politics 11.2: 197–222.

                                                          DOI: 10.1080/13608740600645501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This paper examines the growth of political consumerism among Italian citizens, using representative survey data. The authors explore various kinds of “shopping bag” politics as well as the demographic characteristics of those who engage in them and their motivations for doing so.

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                                                          • Marien, S., M. Hooghe, and E. Quintelier. 2010. Inequalities in non-institutionalized forms of political participation: A multilevel analysis of 25 countries. Political Studies 58.1: 187–213.

                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2009.00801.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            In this study, the authors compare conventional versus unconventional forms of political participation, including political consumerism, based on the extent to which they are explained by factors such as age, education, and gender. Results suggest that unconventional participation increases as well as decreases different forms of inequality.

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                                                            • McFarland, A. 2011. Boycotts and Dixie Chicks: Creative political participation at home and abroad. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

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                                                              In this book, politically motivated consumer behavior is explored within a broader context of what the author terms “creative political participation.” Spanning a variety of geographic, cultural, and historical contexts, the book identifies a number of ways in which citizens have worked outside of established political institutions to express themselves.

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                                                              • Michiletti, M., and A. McFarland, eds. 2011. Creative participation: Responsibility-taking in the political world. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

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                                                                This volume, edited by two scholars whose works are central to the literature on political consumerism, brings together a variety of studies and essays on the concept of “creative participation.” Essays consider normative issues surrounding consumer politics and a host of examples drawn from a diverse array of case studies.

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                                                                • Stolle, D., M. Hooghe, and M. Micheletti. 2005. Politics in the supermarket: Political consumerism as a form of political participation. International Political Science Review 26.3: 245–269.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0192512105053784Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This study offers a comparative examination of political engagement through consumer behavior among students in Canada, Belgium, and Sweden. The authors use these data to establish a “political consumerism index” and to identify a number of correlates of political consumerism, including trust and efficacy as well as other attitudes and characteristics.

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                                                                  Civic Norms

                                                                  Closely related to discussions about how scholars should conceptualize civic and political engagement are those focused on what ordinary individuals, particularly young people, think these concepts mean. Work in this area is closely related to debates about the potentially changing nature of civic and political engagement. A number of related, but distinct, theoretical formulations of these changes tend to guide much of this work. For example, Bennett describes these changes as a shift from “dutiful” to “actualizing” norms of citizenship (Bennett 2008; Bennett, et al. 2011), whereas Coleman 2008 distinguishes between “managed” and “autonomous” approaches to citizen engagement. A third approach contrasts an older “dutiful” conception of citizenship with an emergent form that is referred to simply as “engaged” citizenship (Dalton 2008a, Dalton 2008b, Raney and Berdahl 2009).

                                                                  • Bennett, W. L. 2008. Changing citizenship in the digital age. In Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth. Edited by W. L. Bennett, 1–24. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                    Bennett articulates a theoretical framework for examining how norms about political engagement may be shifting away from traditional conceptions of dutiful citizenship and toward a more individualized politics of self-actualization. Though not offered as a strictly generational argument, the framework suggests that “actualizing citizenship” norms are more prevalent among youth.

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                                                                    • Bennett, W. L., C. Wells, and D. Freelon. 2011. Communicating civic engagement: Contrasting models of citizenship in the youth web sphere. Journal of Communication 61.5: 835–856.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01588.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This article provides an exploration of conceptualizations of actualizing and dutiful citizenship norms as formulated in Bennett 2008 through a content analysis of ninety youth-oriented political websites. Results suggest that many established youth engagement organizations may assume citizenship norms that are inconsistent with those held by a growing number of youth.

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                                                                      • Coleman, S. 2008. Doing it for themselves: Management versus autonomy in youth e-citizenship. In Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth. Edited by W. L. Bennett, 189–206. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                        Coleman uses examples from the United Kingdom to articulate a framework for citizenship norms. Focusing on the ways in which citizenship is presented and articulated to and by young people, Coleman distinguishes between mobilization efforts that are heavily managed (by teachers and other adults) and those that preserve more autonomy for young citizens.

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                                                                        • Dalton, Russell J. 2008a. Citizenship norms and the expansion of political participation. Political Studies 56.1: 76–98.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00718.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Dalton examines survey data to explore a shift from duty-based citizenship norms to a new set of norms labeled “engaged citizenship.” Based on a principal components analysis, Dalton identifies engaged citizenship as consistent with postmaterial or self-expressive values, which are correlated with a number of unconventional forms of political engagement.

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                                                                          • Dalton, Russell J. 2008b. The good citizen: How a younger generation is reshaping American politics. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

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                                                                            In this book-length treatment of “engaged citizenship,” Dalton explores a variety of attitudes, behaviors, and normative arguments related to youth citizenship norms. Contrary to those who argue that youth citizenship is in decline, Dalton contends that an expanded view of political engagement reveals a more optimistic picture of youth engagement.

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                                                                            • Raney, T., and L. Berdahl. 2009. Birds of a feather? Citizenship norms, group identity, and political participation in western Canada. Canadian Journal of Political Science 42.1: 187–209.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0008423909090076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              This paper provides an empirical examination of citizenship norms and participation in western Canada. Using survey data, the authors explore antecedents and consequences of citizenship norms and find support for Dalton’s contention (Dalton 2008a, Dalton 2008b) that evolving civic norms help explain the rise of nontraditional forms of political engagement.

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                                                                              Communication Effects

                                                                              Researchers in communication and political communication have studied a variety of different ways in which communication processes may influence civic and political participation. Work in this area includes research on the effects of different forms of interpersonal interaction as well as a number of different media (newspapers, television, the Internet) and media content formats (political advertising, talk radio, political entertainment, blogs, social media).

                                                                              Personal Interaction

                                                                              Scholarship on the influences of personal interaction and talk examines the ways in which talking about politics may either foster or stifle civic and political engagement. Research in this area explores the potential for individuals to be mobilized and recruited into participatory behaviors through conversation, and a distinct set of studies also examines the effects of having political conversations with those who hold opinions that are different from our own.

                                                                              The Effects of Talk Frequency

                                                                              Closely aligned with research on the ways in which political conversation helps individuals make sense of the political world and their place within it (Gamson 1992, Walsh 2004, both cited under Discursive Participation), research on the frequency of political discussion explores the ways in which political talk and “civic talk” (Klofstad 2011) can serve to stimulate other forms of political engagement. Work in this area examines the influence of political conversation on political activities ranging from traditional forms of campaign involvement (Kim, et al. 1999) to those considered in more expansive conceptions of political participation (McLeod, et al. 1999a; McLeod, et al. 1999b).

                                                                              • Kim, J., R. O. Wyatt, and E. Katz. 1999. News, talk, opinion, participation: The part played by conversation in deliberative democracy. Political Communication 16.4: 361–385.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/105846099198541Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                This paper explores themes related to political discussion within the context of deliberative democracy research. Within this broader set of concerns, the paper sheds light on relationships between political conversation and various political engagement activities. Specifically, the study finds a significant relationship between political conversation and campaign-oriented political engagement.

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                                                                                • Klofstad, C. A. 2011. Civic talk: Peers, politics, and the future of democracy. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  This book examines the influence of informal interactions on political engagement. Using a unique panel survey design and focus groups to gather data from college freshmen roommates, Klofstad documents the extent to which casual interactions and conversations with one’s immediate peers explain variations in a variety of engagement activities.

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                                                                                  • McLeod, J. M., D. A. Scheufele, and P. Moy. 1999a. Community, communication, and participation: The role of mass media and interpersonal discussion in local political participation. Political Communication 26.6: 315–336.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/105846099198659Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    This often-cited study explores relationships among newspaper readership, interpersonal discussion, and both conventional and less-traditional forms of political participation. Whereas political talk does not play as strong a role as newspaper readership in explaining conventional participation, the findings suggest that interpersonal discussion is strongly related to participation in civic forums.

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                                                                                    • McLeod, J. M., D. A. Scheufele, P. Moy, et al. 1999b. Understanding deliberation: The effects of discussion networks on participation in a public forum. Communication Research 26:623–654.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/009365099026006005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This study examines numerous correlates of political discussion. Using survey data and structural equation modeling, the authors examine direct and indirect relationships among network characteristics, media use, discussion, reflection, and participation in a deliberative forum. Results show issue discussion to be a significant predictor of participation in deliberative forums.

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                                                                                      • Scheufele, D. A. 2000. Talk or conversation? Dimensions of interpersonal discussion and their implications for participatory democracy. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 77.4: 727–743.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/107769900007700402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        This study provides an empirical examination of arguments introduced in Schudson 1997 (cited under Discursive Participation) concerning the distinction between political talk and sociable political conversation. Although the author suggests that the distinction may be too simplistic, results show political talk to be a stronger predictor of political participation.

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                                                                                        • Scheufele, D. A., M. C. Nisbet, and D. Brossard. 2003. Pathways to participation? Religion, communication contexts, and mass media. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 15.3: 300–324.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/15.3.300Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          In this study, the authors explore the effects of interpersonal political discussion on participation, controlling for a variety of other factors, including involvement with religious organizations, media use, and political knowledge. Results suggest that secular discussion networks play a larger role in fostering participation and engagement than religious discussion networks.

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                                                                                          The Effects of Cross-Cutting Talk

                                                                                          In large part as an extension of scholarship on deliberative democracy, a substantial amount of research on the effects of political talk specifically looks at the effects of conversation with those who hold opposing political viewpoints (Mutz 2006; Scheufele, et al. 2006). Some work in this area follows traditional political science research on “cross pressures” in positing that the effects of talking with others who are not like-minded tends to depress political participation (Eveland and Hively 2009, Leighley 1990, Mutz 2002). Other work explores the potential for this sometimes less-comfortable form of political interaction to increase participatory behavior (Kim, et al. 2011; Scheufele, et al. 2004).

                                                                                          • Eveland, W. P., Jr., and M. H. Hively. 2009. Political discussion, network size, and “heterogeneity” as predictors of political knowledge and political participation. Journal of Communication 59.2: 205–224.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01412.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            This study explores the effects of discussion frequency on political knowledge and participation, controlling for a variety of discussion network variables. The authors find that discussion frequency and discussion with like-minded others has a positive influence on participation, while the relationship between discussion with others who are not like-minded and participation is negative.

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                                                                                            • Kim, E., D. A. Scheufele, and J. Y. Han. 2011. Structure or predisposition? Exploring the interaction effect of discussion orientation and discussion heterogeneity on political participation. Mass Communication & Society 14.4: 502–526.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2010.513469Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This study examines the role played by orientations toward political discussion as a way to advance research on the influence of structural variations in discussion networks on participation. Analysis of national survey data suggests that willingness to express different opinions in discussion moderates the relationship between discussion heterogeneity and participation.

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                                                                                              • Leighley, J. E. 1990. Social interaction and contextual influences on political participation. American Politics Research 18.4: 459–475.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/1532673X9001800404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                This paper examines the extent to which features of discussion networks of individuals influence the likelihood of engaging in socially based and individualized forms of participation. Analysis of a combination of a National Annenberg Election Study and US Census data suggests that social interaction is positively related to both forms of political engagement.

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                                                                                                • Mutz, D. C. 2002. The consequences of crosscutting networks for political participation. American Journal of Political Science 46.4: 838–855.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3088437Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  In this influential paper, the author investigates the effects of “cross pressures” arising from personal interactions and discussions with individuals who hold opposing political opinions. Results show that cross-cutting political interactions decrease the likelihood of participation, and multiple psychological processes are discussed as explanations for this relationship.

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                                                                                                  • Mutz, D. C. 2006. Hearing the other side: Deliberative versus participatory democracy. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511617201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    In this book, Mutz expands on earlier work (Mutz 2002), and she integrates her research on the negative effects of discussion with others who are not like-minded into a broader discussion of deliberative democracy. While “hearing the other side” may have many benefits, Mutz argues that exposure to disagreement is negatively related to participation.

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                                                                                                    • Scheufele, D. A., B. W. Hardy, D. Brossard, I. S. Waismel-Manor, and E. Nisbet. 2006. Democracy based on difference: Examining the links between structural heterogeneity, heterogeneity of discussion networks, and democratic citizenship. Journal of Communication 56.4: 728–753.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00317.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      This study examines the relationships among structural heterogeneity, network heterogeneity, and political participation. Data are drawn from a unique combination of individual-level survey data and macro-level contextual data. Results suggest that network heterogeneity exerts a positive influence on political participation, mediated by a number of different communication variables.

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                                                                                                      • Scheufele, D. A., M. C. Nisbet, D. Brossard, and E. C. Nisbet. 2004. Social structure and citizenship: Examining the impact of social setting, network heterogeneity, and informational variables on political participation. Political Communication 21:315–338.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/10584600490481389Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        This study examines the relationships among political discussion in a variety of settings, network heterogeneity, media use, political knowledge, and political participation. Specifically, using data drawn from a national telephone survey, the authors examine how the different settings of political conversation, in conjunction with network heterogeneity, affect political engagement.

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                                                                                                        Newspapers/Television

                                                                                                        A classic line of scholarship in political communication examines the effects of the mass media of newspapers and television on civic and political engagement (e.g., McLeod, et al. 1979; McLeod, et al. 1996). Much work in this area is grounded in debates about whether the media depress participation by creating political or media “malaise” (Newton 1999, Norris 2000, Robinson 1976, Strömbäck and Shehata 2010). More contemporary studies examine specific effects arising from new patterns of partisan news consumption and entertainment program viewing (e.g., Dilliplane 2011, Kim and Han 2005).

                                                                                                        • Dilliplane, S. 2011. All the news you want to hear: The impact of partisan news exposure on political participation. Public Opinion Quarterly 75.2: 287–316.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/poq/nfr006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This study examines the effect of a particular kind of news exposure—selective engagement with ideologically congenial news—on political participation variables in the context of a presidential election. Analysis of panel data suggests that partisan news exposure is positively related to a number of forms of electoral engagement.

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                                                                                                          • Kim, S. H., and M. Han. 2005. Media use and participatory democracy in South Korea. Mass Communication & Society 8.2: 133–153.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1207/s15327825mcs0802_4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            In this paper, the authors examine relationships between exposure to news media and political participation in South Korea. Findings replicate those of similar studies conducted in the United States, and they suggest a positive relationship between news media use and participation and a negative relationship between entertainment program viewing and participation.

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                                                                                                            • McLeod, J. M., C. R. Bybee, and J. A. Durall. 1979. Equivalence of informed political participation: The 1976 presidential debates as a source of influence. Communication Research 6.4: 463–487.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/009365027900600404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              This classic study explores patterns of equivalence and nonequivalence in news exposure and effects on informed participation. Relative to research on the knowledge gap, the authors found that exposure to televised presidential debates varied based on factors such as political interest but the positive effects of debate viewing on participation did not.

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                                                                                                              • McLeod, J. M., Z. Guo, T. Hargrove, et al. 1996. The impact of traditional and non-traditional media forms in the 1992 presidential election. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 73.2: 401–416.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/107769909607300211Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This study examines the relative influence of different media forms on indicators of engagement with a presidential campaign, including participation in campaign activities and the likelihood of voting. Data from a panel survey indicate positive relationships to political engagement among debate watching, attention to advertisements, and newspaper reading.

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                                                                                                                • Newton, K. 1999. Mass media effects: Mobilization or media malaise? British Journal of Political Science 29.4: 577–599.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0007123499000289Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This paper provides a useful discussion of the debate about whether the media contribute to political malaise or political mobilization, drawing on analysis of UK survey data. Though participation is not explicitly investigated here, the analysis suggests stronger evidence for mobilization through variables associated with participation.

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                                                                                                                  • Norris, P. 2000. A virtuous circle: Political communications in post-industrial societies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511609343Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This book engages the “videomalaise” debate through an analysis of the news industry and the effects of news media use in Europe and the United States. With respect to news and engagement, the analysis suggests that news exposure reinforces civic engagement, which in turn stimulates further attention to the news.

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                                                                                                                    • Robinson, M. 1976. Public affairs television and the growth of political malaise: The case of “the selling of the Pentagon.” American Political Science Review 70.2: 409–432.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/1959647Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      This study introduces the notion of “videomalaise” through analysis of survey data and an experiment on the effects of viewing a well-known documentary. Though participation itself is not an outcome variable in this study, it is a key reference point for work on the effects of news media on engagement.

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                                                                                                                      • Strömbäck, J., and A. Shehata. 2010. Media malaise or a virtuous circle? Exploring the causal relationships between news media exposure, political news attention and political interest. European Journal of Political Research 49.5: 575–597.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6765.2009.01913.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        This paper presents findings from a study of media malaise versus mobilization patterns using panel data collected in Sweden. The authors specifically probe for reciprocal relationships between news media use and political interest, a key driver of participation. Results point to stronger evidence for mobilization patterns in the Swedish case.

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                                                                                                                        Political Advertising

                                                                                                                        Perhaps the most widely discussed research on communication and civic or political engagement concerns the effects of political advertising, particularly negative advertising, on voter engagement and voter turnout. A central reference point in contemporary scholarship on this topic is work in Ansolabehere, et al. 1994, which confirms the popular wisdom that negative political advertising is corrosive of healthy democratic participation. However, in response to that work, a number of studies have appeared suggesting that negative advertising has no effect or even has a positive effect on turnout (e.g., Franz, et al. 2008; Goldstein and Freedman 2002; Krasno and Green 2008; Lau and Pomper 2001; Lau, et al. 2007; Martin 2004), prompting a lively debate. Recent work, such as Krupnikov 2011, provides a more nuanced discussion focused on contingent effects.

                                                                                                                        • Ansolabehere, S., S. Iyengar, A. Simon, and N. Valentino. 1994. Does attack advertising demobilize the electorate? American Political Science Review 88.4: 829–838.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2082710Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          This provocative study serves as a central reference point in contemporary debates over whether negative political advertising depresses political participation. Based on both experimental evidence and an aggregate-level replication, the authors argue that negative advertising has a distinct negative effect on intentions to vote and political efficacy.

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                                                                                                                          • Franz, M. M., P. Freedman, K. Goldstein, and T. Ridout. 2008. Understanding the effect of political advertising on voter turnout: A response to Krasno and Green. Journal of Politics 70.1: 262–268.

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                                                                                                                            In this paper, the authors respond directly to Krasno and Green 2008 in suggesting that negative advertising has no impact on voter turnout. While agreeing with the proposition that negative advertising does no harm, the authors critique Krasno and Green 2008 on methodological and other grounds.

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                                                                                                                            • Goldstein, K., and P. Freedman. 2002. Campaign advertising and voter turnout: New evidence for a stimulation effect. Journal of Politics 64.3: 721–740.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/0022-3816.00143Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              This study offers both methodological and substantive contributions to scholarship on the effects of negative advertising. In addition to providing a key reference point for those who contend that negative ads stimulate voter turnout, it also introduces the use of data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

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                                                                                                                              • Krasno, J. S., and D. P. Green. 2008. Do televised presidential ads increase voter turnout? Evidence from a natural experiment. Journal of Politics 70.1: 245–261.

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                                                                                                                                This study, using data from the 2000 US presidential election, examined the tone of advertising and turnout among voting-age citizens in the largest seventy-five media markets. Contrary to those who argue that negative advertising mobilizes or demobilizes, the authors contend that negative political advertising has no impact on voter turnout.

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                                                                                                                                • Krupnikov, Y. 2011. When does negativity demobilize? Tracing the conditional effect of negative campaigning on voter turnout. American Journal of Political Science 55.4: 796–812.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00522.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  This study seeks to advance the literature on negative advertising and voter turnout by exploring a conditional model of negative advertising effects, which specifies that demobilizing effects are contingent on timing. It is argued that this approach may resolve inconsistencies in previous research.

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                                                                                                                                  • Lau, R. R., and G. M. Pomper. 2001. Effects of negative campaigning on turnout in US Senate elections, 1988–1998. Journal of Politics 63.3: 804–819.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/0022-3816.00088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    In this study, the authors engage the debate over the effects of negative advertising through a comprehensive aggregate data set in which turnout data are drawn from National Election Study surveys and campaign tone is tapped through a content analysis of newspaper coverage in corresponding races.

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                                                                                                                                    • Lau, R. R., L. Sigelman, I. B. Rovner. 2007. The effects of negative political campaigns: A meta-analytic reassessment. Journal of Politics 69.4: 1176–1209.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00618.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This meta-analysis of research on the effects of negative political advertising considers a comprehensive collection of more than one hundred studies conducted from the 1980s through the mid-2000s. The results do not support the popular wisdom that negative advertising depresses turnout, but the findings do identify a number of other specific effects.

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                                                                                                                                      • Martin, P. S. 2004. Inside the black box of negative campaign effects: Three reasons why negative campaigns mobilize. Political Psychology 25.4: 545–562.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00386.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This paper explores questions related to the psychological mechanisms that may be at work in findings that negative advertising has a mobilizing effect on voters. Specifically, the study examines whether exposure mobilizes by stimulating feelings of duty and anxiety and/or perceptions of the closeness of a given race.

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                                                                                                                                        Talk Radio

                                                                                                                                        Though the audience for, and scholarly interest in, talk radio has waxed and waned (Hollander 1999), a distinct body of communication scholarship has examined the influence of this genre of political media on political engagement (Bennett 1998). This work has been primarily dominated by scholars such as Hollander (Hollander 1995–1996, Hollander 1997, Hollander 1999) and Hofstetter (Hofstetter, et al. 1994; Hofstetter and Gianos 1997), who have largely documented positive relationships between talk radio use and participation, with some variation based on political ideology. A smaller current in this area examines engagement with talk shows as a form of political engagement in itself (Pan and Kosicki 1997).

                                                                                                                                        • Bennett, S. E. 1998. Political talk radio shows’ impact on democratic citizenship. In Engaging the public: How government and media can reinvigorate American democracy. Edited by T. J. Johnson, C. E. Hays, and S. P. Hays, 111–121. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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                                                                                                                                          This essay provides an accessible survey of research on the effects of talk radio on a variety of democratic citizenship dimensions. With respect to political participation, Bennett cites data showing that talk radio exposure positively predicts a number of political engagement activities, controlling for a host of demographic factors.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hofstetter, C. R., M. C. Donovan, M. R. Klauber, A. Cole, C. J. Huie, and T. Yuasa. 1994. Political talk radio: A stereotype reconsidered. Political Research Quarterly 47.2: 467–479.

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                                                                                                                                            This study examines the effects of exposure to talk radio in the early 1990s. Analysis survey data collected in San Diego, California, explores relationships between talk radio exposure and a variety of engagement outcomes, including voting and contacting a public official, as well as attitudes related to political participation.

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                                                                                                                                            • Hofstetter, C. R., and C. L. Gianos. 1997. Political talk radio: Actions speak louder than words. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 41.4: 501–515.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/08838159709364423Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This study further examines the political impacts of exposure to political talk radio, also using survey data collected in San Diego, California. Following the situational involvement model, the authors explore the extent to which involvement with the medium moderates the effects of exposure on political participation.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hollander, B. A. 1995–1996. The influence of talk radio on political efficacy and participation. Journal of Radio Studies 3.1: 23–31.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/19376529509361971Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                This study uses national survey data to examine relationships between exposure to political talk radio and three principal outcomes. Specifically, the study probes for effects on internal political efficacy, external political efficacy, and political participation. Results suggest that exposure to talk radio is positively related to participation.

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                                                                                                                                                • Hollander, B. A. 1997. Fuel to the fire: Talk radio and the Gamson hypothesis. Political Communication 14.3: 355–369.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/105846097199371Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  This study explores the relationship between exposure to political talk radio and political engagement through the lens of the “Gamson hypothesis,” which predicts that political mobilization is most likely among those high in self-efficacy but low in trust. Interactions between talk radio exposure and political conservatism are also explored.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Hollander, B. A. 1999. Political talk radio in the 1990s: A panel study. Journal of Radio Studies 6:236–245.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/19376529909391725Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    This paper charts the rise and fall of the talk radio audience in the 1990s, using the 1992–1997 American National Election Study (ANES) combined data file. The analysis further explores the characteristics of those who left the talk radio audience, based on demographic factors and a variety of political attitudes.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Pan, Z. D., and G. M. Kosicki. 1997. Talkshow exposure as an opinion activity. Political Communication 14.3: 371–388.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/105846097199380Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      This analysis uses national survey data to examine relationships between exposure to political talk shows (including talk radio programs) and specific forms of political engagement. The authors also argue that distinct features of the talk show experience warrant treating it as an opinion activity rather than simply media exposure.

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                                                                                                                                                      Political Entertainment

                                                                                                                                                      Though most research on the effects of political entertainment programming focuses on outcomes such as political knowledge and political attitudes, a distinct body of work explores the extent to which the rise of “infotainment” of different forms (Hoffman and Young 2011) may have implications for civic and political participation. Research in this area largely focuses on campaign-oriented participation (Cao and Brewer 2008; Moy, et al. 2005) and norms concerning such participation (Coleman 2006).

                                                                                                                                                      • Cao, X., and P. R. Brewer. 2008. Political comedy shows and public participation in politics. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 20.1: 90–99.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edm030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This study examines the relationship between perceived political learning from late-night political comedy programs and political participation in the context of the 2004 Democratic presidential primary contest. Specifically, the authors examine relationships with contacting officials, attending events, joining or donating to issue groups, and contributing to a candidate.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Coleman, S. 2006. How the other half votes: Big Brother viewers and the 2005 general election. International Journal of Cultural Studies 9.4: 457–479.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1367877906069895Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Coleman reports results from a unique panel study of Big Brother viewers in the United Kingdom, which enabled both quantitative and qualitative (through an open-ended completion task) analysis of how certain entertainment programming viewers think about the political process. A number of implications for research on political participation are discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Hoffman, L. H., and D. G. Young. 2011. Satire, punch lines, and the nightly news: Untangling media effects on political participation. Communication Research Reports 28.2: 159–168.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/08824096.2011.565278Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Hoffman and Young argue for maintaining a distinction between political satire (e.g., The Daily Show) and political comedy (e.g., The Tonight Show) in research on political entertainment and participation. This study explores relationships among both kinds of political comedy viewing, traditional news media exposure, and a variety of participation activities.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Moy, P., M. A. Xenos, and V. Hess. 2005. Communication and citizenship: Mapping the political effects of infotainment. Mass Communication & Society 8.2: 111–131.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1207/s15327825mcs0802_3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This study explores the effects of exposure to late-night comedy programming and candidate appearances on Oprah during the 2000 US presidential election. Specifically, the analysis probes for effects on intent to vote, an index of campaign participation, and engagement in political discussion.

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                                                                                                                                                              Internet Use

                                                                                                                                                              Easily the fastest growing body of communication scholarship related to civic and political participation considers the influence of digital media and Internet use on citizen engagement. Some work in this area focuses on general Internet use as an independent variable, while other work examines the influences of particular forms of online communication such as blogs and social media. Given the sense in which technological adoption tends to correlate strongly with age, a number of studies in this area also specifically examine relationships between use of digital media and political engagement among young people.

                                                                                                                                                              General Internet Use

                                                                                                                                                              Research efforts on the effects of Internet use on civic and political participation have largely been defined by a debate between those who see the Internet as a positive, mobilizing force (Hirzalla, et al. 2011; Mossberger, et al. 2008; Wang 2007) and those who expect digital media to simply “normalize” existing patterns of participation, creating a “reinforcement” effect (Jennings and Zeitner 2003). Other work in this area points to the potential for the effects of general Internet use on political engagement to vary based on context and motivations (Shah, et al. 2005; Shah, et al. 2001; Xenos and Moy 2007). The meta-analysis in Boulianne 2009 provides a useful and systematic synthesis of preceding published studies.

                                                                                                                                                              • Boulianne, S. 2009. Does Internet use affect engagement? A meta-analysis of research. Political Communication 26.2: 193–211.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/10584600902854363Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                In this useful and thorough meta-analysis, Boulianne examines thirty-eight studies and a total of 166 effects of Internet use on political engagement. Results suggest that Internet use does not depress political engagement, and that a small but distinct positive relationship exists between Internet use and participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Hirzalla F, L. van Zoonen, and J. de Ridder. 2011. Internet use and political participation: Reflections on the mobilization/normalization controversy. Information Society 27.1: 1–15.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/01972243.2011.534360Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  This study suggests a number of reasons for discrepancies between studies suggesting that Internet use mobilizes participation and those that suggest that it normalizes existing patterns of political engagement. Findings from a Dutch survey on the use of voter advice applications support a mobilization model, particularly among youth.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Jennings, K. M., and V. Zeitner. 2003. Internet use and civic engagement: A longitudinal analysis. Public Opinion Quarterly 67.3: 311–334.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/376947Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    In this classic study of Internet use and political engagement, the authors draw on a unique longitudinal quasi-experimental design to explore the effects of Internet use on a variety of civic engagement indicators. The authors find that Internet use mapped onto, or even exaggerated, pre-Internet inequalities in participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Mossberger, K., C. J. Tolbert, and R. S. McNeal. 2008. Digital citizenship: The Internet, society, and participation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This book brings together an impressive array of evidence in support of the argument that Internet use has substantial benefits for democratic engagement. Chapter 3 examines relationships between online news use and civic engagement, while chapter 4 explores relationships between Internet use and voting in presidential and off-year elections.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Shah, D., J. Cho, W. P. Eveland, and N. Kwak. 2005. Information and expression in a digital age. Communication Research 32:531–565.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0093650205279209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        This study of media use and civic participation is based on data from a two-wave panel survey using a variety of techniques. The analyses examine the roles played by online information seeking and interactive civic messaging as well as traditional news media and political discussion in fostering greater civic participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Shah, D. V., N. Kwak, and R. Holbert. 2001. Connecting and disconnecting with civic life: Patterns of Internet use and the production of social capital. Political Communication 18:141–162.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/105846001750322952Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This study was influential in drawing attention to the extent to which motivational factors play a role in determining the nature of Internet effects on civic engagement. Specifically, the authors distinguish between informational and recreational Internet use, and they explore the effects of such use using data from the DDB Needham Life Style Study.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Wang, S. I. 2007. Political use of the Internet, political attitudes and political participation. Asian Journal of Communication 17.4: 381–395.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/01292980701636993Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            This study examines interrelationships among Internet use, political interest, trust, efficacy, and political participation, using data from the 2004 Social Change Survey in Taiwan. Results suggest that Internet use fosters political interest, trust, and efficacy, and that it contributes to greater engagement in campaign and political activities.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Xenos, M., and P. Moy. 2007. Direct and differential effects of the Internet on political and civic engagement. Journal of Communication 57.4: 704–718.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2007.00364.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This study explores whether the relationships between Internet use and political engagement are universally positive or they are moderated by psychological factors, specifically political interest, using data from the 2004 National Election Study. Results suggest that differential effects of Internet use are more evident for more effortful forms of participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Blogs and Social Media

                                                                                                                                                                              Two distinct forms of online communication that have captured the attention of scholars interested in civic and political participation are blogs (Gil de Zúñiga, et al. 2009) and social media (Vitak, et al. 2011). Though some are skeptical about the mobilizing effects of websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube (Baumgartner and Morris 2010), most work in this area is more optimistic about the potential for these sites to foster social capital (Ellison, et al. 2007; Valenzuela, et al. 2009) as well as civic (Gil de Zúñiga and Valenzuela 2011; Pasek, et al. 2009) and political (Lawrence, et al. 2010) engagement.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Baumgartner, J. C., and J. S. Morris. 2010. MyFaceTube politics: Social networking websites and political engagement of young adults. Social Science Computer Review 28.1: 24–44.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0894439309334325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This study seeks to test popular optimism surrounding the effects of political use of social networking websites on a variety of forms of political engagement. Examining a range of traditional and nontraditional forms of participation, the authors find little evidence of a mobilizing effect for social media.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Ellison, N. B., C. Steinfeld, and C. Lampe. 2007. The benefits of Facebook “friends”: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12.4: 1143–1168.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  In this study, relationships between intensity of social network site use and three kinds of social capital are explored, using data drawn from a survey of undergraduates at Michigan State University. Results suggest that, among the sampled population, social network site use was most strongly related to bridging social capital.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gil de Zúñiga, H., E. Puig-I-Abril, and H. Rojas. 2009. Weblogs, traditional sources online, and political participation: An assessment of how the Internet is changing the political environment. New Media & Society 11.4: 553–574.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/1461444809102960Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    This paper examines the role played by blogs in fostering political involvement and engagement. Based on a secondary analysis of data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the analysis identifies blog use as having a positive relationship with a number of online political engagement activities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gil de Zúñiga, H., and S. Valenzuela. 2011. The mediating path to a stronger citizenship: Online and offline networks, weak ties, and civic engagement. Communication Research 38.3: 397.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0093650210384984Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      This study draws on a variety of literatures to explore relationships between online and offline network characteristics and a range of civic engagement variables spanning traditional and nontraditional activities using nationally representative survey data. Results suggest that online and offline discussion networks both contribute to civic involvement/participation in different ways.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lawrence, E., J. Sides, and H. Farrell. 2010. Self-segregation or deliberation? Blog readership, participation, and polarization in American politics. Perspectives on Politics 8.1: 141–157.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S1537592709992714Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        This paper examines blog readership and political participation within the context of the tension between deliberative and participatory democracy as developed in Mutz 2006 (cited under Effects of Cross-Cutting Talk). Specifically, the authors examine the extent to which blog readers tend to be ideologically polarized as well as the relationship between blog reading and campaign-related participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pasek, J., E. More, and D. Romer. 2009. Realizing the social Internet? Online social networking meets offline civic engagement. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 6.3–4: 197–215.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/19331680902996403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          This study examines relationships between use of two social networking websites (Facebook and MySpace) and civic engagement as well as political knowledge. Analysis of a nationally representative sample of youth reveals site-specific effects, sounding a note of caution concerning measures that combine use of multiple sites in a single index.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Valenzuela, S., N. Park, and K. F. Kee. 2009. Is there social capital in a social network site? Facebook use and college students’ life satisfaction, trust, and participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 14.4: 875–901.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01474.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            In this paper, the authors explore relationships between intensity of Facebook use and a variety of outcomes, including an index of civic and political participation that combines traditional forms of participation with activities such as volunteering and political consumerism. Data are drawn from an online survey of college students in Texas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Vitak, J., P. Zube, A. Smock, C. T. Carr, N. Ellison, and C. Lampe. 2011. It’s complicated: Facebook users’ political participation in the 2008 election. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 14.3: 107–114.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0226Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              This study examines the use of Facebook for political purposes by young people. The authors use data from a web survey administered to students to shed light on students’ political activity on Facebook, perceptions of Facebook as an appropriate venue for political activity, and online and offline participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Generational/Youth-Based Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                              Historically, young people have been strongly associated with new developments in communication technology, and the realm of politics is no exception. Thus, a number of studies concerned with the effects of the Internet on civic and political engagement explicitly adopt a generational or youth focus. Work in this area explores whether relationships between digital media and participation may be stronger for young people (Vromen 2007). Some work in this area focuses specifically on electoral politics (Xenos and Kyoung 2008). More common, however, is a focus on more expansive conceptions of civic and political participation (Bakker and de Vreese 2011; Gibson, et al. 2005; Quintelier and Vissers 2008).

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bakker, T. P., and C. H. de Vreese. 2011. Good news for the future? Young people, Internet use, and political participation. Communication Research 38.4: 451–470.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0093650210381738Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                This study explores relationships among use of traditional news media use, online media use, and online and offline political participation among young people in the Netherlands. The design carefully distinguishes between numerous specific kinds of media use and draws on a broad conception of political engagement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gibson, R., W. Lusoli, and S. Ward. 2005. Online participation in the UK: Testing a “contextualized” model of Internet effects. British Journal of Political Science 7.4: 561–583.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Using survey data from the United Kingdom, the authors of this essay seek to enhance models of youth Internet use and participation through expansion of the dependent variable set to include online forms of political engagement and the addition of additional explanatory factors such as Internet skill and mobilization appeals from organized groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Quintelier, E., and S. Vissers. 2008. The effect of Internet use on political participation: An analysis of survey results for 16-year-olds in Belgium. Social Science Computer Review 26.4: 411–427.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0894439307312631Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This study engages questions about whether time online displaces political activity, as well as the mobilizing potential of the Internet, through analysis of data from a survey of Belgian youth. Results were not consistent with a time-displacement effect, but they suggested that particular online activities were positively related with participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Vromen, A. 2007. Australian young people’s participatory practices and Internet use. In Young citizens in the digital age: Political engagement, young people and new media. Edited by B. Loader, 97–113. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This study examines relationships between Internet use and political participation among young people in Australia, within the broader context of research on the digital divide. Vromen argues that, in the Australian case, Internet use appears to facilitate greater youth engagement primarily among those already involved in politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Xenos, M. A., and K. Kyoung. 2008. Rocking the vote and more: An experimental study of the impact of youth political portals. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 5.2: 175–189.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/19331680802291400Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article presents findings from a study in which students were given an opportunity to use either one of two youth-oriented political portals or Google to gather information about an upcoming election. Analysis examined the extent to which the effects of youth portals on political engagement vary based on levels of political interest.

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