Media and political polarization

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551 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines if the emergence of more partisan media has contributed to political polarization and led Americans to support more partisan policies and candidates. Congress and some newer media outlets have added more partisan messages to a continuing supply of mostly centrist news. Although political attitudes of most Americans have remained fairly moderate, evidence points to some polarization among the politically involved. Proliferation of media choices lowered the share of less interested, less partisan voters and thereby made elections more partisan. But evidence for a causal link between more partisan messages and changing attitudes or behaviors is mixed at best. Measurement problems hold back research on partisan selective exposure and its consequences. Ideologically one-sided news exposure may be largely confined to a small, but highly involved and influential, segment of the population. There is no firm evidence that partisan media are making ordinary Americans more partisan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-127
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
Volume16
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Activists
  • Audience measurement
  • Media bias
  • Media effects
  • News media
  • Selective exposure

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