This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for details.
Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!
Exciting News! This week’s post is a quick announcement those interested in research on social media and civic and political participation!
My latest publication with my colleague, former fellow WSU graduate student, and good friend Masahiro Yamomoto is now available for “early view” online. As you know, I research new and social media and civics / politics.
Published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, the article “More harm than good? Online media use and political disaffection among college students in the 2008 election” is a follow up to our 2010 publication “Did social media really matter? College students’ use of online media and political decision making in the 2008 election.”
“Where Did Social Media really Matter?” asked whether social media and online expression on social media sites were related to positive political outcomes, namely political self-efficacy and situational political involvement, “More Harm Than Good?” asks whether these media are related to political disaffection. Specifically, we looked at political cynicism, apathy, and skepticism.
While cynicism – lack of confidence or trust in the political system, and apathy – indifference or lack of interest in politics, are both negative, skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Skepticism falls short of rejecting politics or the process of politics, but it is characterized by a disbelief and thus a need to gather more information about what one learns in the media about political issues, candidates, etc.
So what did we find? Attention to social media was related to cynicism and apathy, and related negatively with skepticism. However, there was a positive relationship between online expression and skepticism.
In short, as our previous research suggests, paying attention to political content on social media may not have played as positive a role for young adults in the 2008 election as some have suggested. The story, of course, is not the same for online expression – so why is that?
We must of course consider all the limitations of the study. And keep in mind that this is 1 study and 1 sample. Please read the study to learn more about these concepts, related research, the sampling design, limitations, and other important considerations.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this paper was presented at AEJMC 2012.
photo CC Tom Lohdan