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Changing Media Environments: Why Media System Variables Matter for Citizens

Thu, August 30, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sheraton, Beacon H


The field of comparative political communication research is sophisticated in terms of theoretically well-grounded and methodologically rigorous empirical work. Within the field, scholars have given particular attention to the causal relationship between media usage and political engagement. The archetypal question is: Does media consumption reduce or strengthen citizens’ involvement in politics? However, despite acknowledging the importance of media-system related variables for the societal communication environment in general, those variables are most often neglected in studies concerning this relationship. Only if a certain degree of freedom is manifested in the institutional set-up of the communication environment, will the potentially beneficial effects of increased media consumption be long-term effects. Therefore, this article takes media-system characteristics as intervening variables into account (e.g. journalism cultures; media markets; technical reception). Employing World Values Survey data, I demonstrate the intervening effect of freedom-related media system characteristics, on the relation between media exposure and political involvement.