Table of contents(19 chapters)
Section I: Politics
Grounded in Media System Dependency theory, this work investigates the impact of new media on political efficacy. It suggests that dependence on online resources affects people’s perceptions about the democratic potential of the Internet. Using structural equation modeling, the study tests the relationship between political attitudes and the perceived utility of the Web. The analysis employs measures that take into consideration the facilitating role of communication technologies. Results indicate that online political efficacy is associated with individual views about the comprehensiveness and credibility of new media. Efficacy is also linked to the perceived ability of online tools to aid the maintenance of ideologically homogenous social networks. The intensity of Internet dependency relations is found to be predicted by the perceived comprehensiveness – but not credibility – of online news.
The growth in popularity of new media has led some television networks in the United States to experiment with alternative forms of political debate by encouraging viewers of all ages to submit video questions to political candidates. Surprisingly, however, experimentation with this new type of debate format in the 2008 U.S. presidential election cycle did not lead to the adoption of new debate formats in the subsequent 2012 election cycle, despite its success with viewing audiences. This study examines various debate formats to understand the value of participatory, user-generated debate question formats versus more traditional debate question formats whereby moderators or live audience members ask presidential candidates scripted questions.
Using a between-subjects experiment, this study examines four types of televised debate formats to assess young adult viewers’ impressions of each format as well as image perceptions of a political candidate and the individual posing the debate question.
The findings suggest debate formats impact perceptions of a political candidate’s image differently for young men and young women. In addition, varying the debate format impacts young voters’ perceptions of debate questioners as well as their overall perceptions of the debate. Implications for viewing audiences are discussed.
U.S. presidential candidates should embrace presidential debate formats that encourage citizens to participate in the political process via new media technologies.
This study shows implementing more engaging and interactive presidential debate formats can positively impact young voters’ perceptions.
This paper examines whether new media can address low levels of political engagement among youth. This paper reports the results of an experiment conducted in 2010 and 2011 where a random sample of participants were exposed to a variety of online news sources. The experiment is unique in recognizing the varied ways in which online news is accessed and acquired by users, including through social networks, and in assessing how different news stories affect political interest. Interest in local politics was higher for youth who were exposed to a variety of online news sources as opposed to those youth who were not exposed to these sources. In addition, use of online news increased political interest, controlling for prior levels of political interest. The results affirm the potential of online news sources to stimulate youth’s interest and engagement in politics.
Section II: Participation Networks
This paper investigates the mechanics of multimedia tie maintenance, with a particular emphasis upon social network sites (SNSs) and their uses and gratifications. We present results from a national sample of American adults (N = 571) of all ages, investigating the associations of several attitudinal and social variables with multimedia tie maintenance. We find that Facebook is used to maintain social ties at rates comparable to other media and is increasingly used to connect with close ties, contrary to previous literature. We also uncover highly significant patterns of “expressive” and “instrumental” engagement, isolating distinct expressive/instrumental orientations toward digital media in general and Facebook specifically. Respondents who displayed an expressive pattern of engagement with Facebook did not use non-SNS media to maintain ties any less frequently than those who do not use Facebook expressively. Respondents who displayed an instrumental pattern of engagement with Facebook meanwhile, supplemented their lack of SNS use to maintain ties by using other media more frequently for this purpose. This paper contributes to the literatures of media multiplexity, networked individualism, uses and gratifications theory, and social capital through SNSs. It makes a significant contribution to understanding the psychological and social gratifications of digital media, and their relationship to patterns of multimedia tie maintenance.
How Far can Scholarly Networks Go? Examining the Relationships between Distance, Disciplines, Motivations, and Clusters
This study aims to understand the extent to which scholarly networks are connected both in person and through information and communication technologies, and in particular, how distance, disciplines, and motivations for participating in these networks interplay with the clusters they form. The focal point for our analysis is the Graphics, Animation and New Media Network of Centres of Excellence (GRAND NCE), a Canadian scholarly network in which scholars collaborate across disciplinary, institutional, and geographical boundaries in one or multiple projects with the aid of information and communication technologies. To understand the complexity in such networks, we first identified scholars’ clusters within the work, want-to-meet, and help networks of GRAND and examined the correlation between these clusters as well as with disciplines and geographic locations. We then identified three types of motivation that drove scholars to join GRAND: practical issues, novelty-exploration, and networking. Our findings indicate that (1) scholars’ interests in the networking opportunities provided by GRAND may not easily translate into actual interactions. Although scholars express interests in boundary-spanning collaborations, these mostly occur within the same discipline and geographic area. (2) Some motivations are reflected in the structural characteristics of the clusters we identify, while others are irrelevant to the establishment of collaborative ties. We argue that institutional intervention may be used to enhance geographically dispersed, multidisciplinary collaboration.
Family Social Networks, Reciprocal Socialization and the Adoption of Social Media by Baby Boomer and Silent Generation Women
Baby boomers are now the fastest growing group of adopters of social media. This research uses qualitative research methodologies to understand the factors influencing adoption and use of social media and other emergent technologies by baby boomer and silent generation women. Life Course Perspectives (especially as combined with either Role Theory and/or Social Exchange Theory), and Family Systems Theory provide a strong basis for considering reciprocal socialization as an important dynamic in relationships between different generations, specifically within families. This research reveals and examines a particular form of reciprocal socialization between family members, the process of social media adoption. Using a convenience sample of 28 women born before 1963, we examine the characteristics of women who use computers, and more specifically who use social networking sites and other forms of emergent technology such as Skype. We also investigate the familial and social factors that women report as contributing to their adoption of social media. Women report that children, specifically daughters, strongly influence their decision to use social media such as Facebook. Women who do not use social media are found to either report lack of interest or perceived lack of ability to negotiate new technology, or to indicate that use of social media is unnecessary to them due to the spatial proximity of their families.
This study’s purpose is to examine the relations between LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) youths’ Internet usage and their social capital. Previous research has shown that Internet use assists actors with similar background and interests in forming bonding social capital. Additionally, it has been found that Internet use can assist actors from dissimilar background in forming bridging social capital. This study aims at extending these findings to LGBT youth, who may especially benefit from having a supporting social network while coping with the challenges of forming their sexual orientation/gender identity. For this purpose, an Internet survey was launched, with 82 participants, who were users of forums in the Israeli Gay Youth organization website (IGY). The survey included three measures of Internet use (i.e., amount of time spent in Internet forums, content posting activity, and emotional investment in forums), and questionnaires estimating the degrees of bridging and bonding social capital. In general, we found a positive association between forum usage and social capital. Inasmuch as Internet forum use was more intensive, the reported social capital increased. Furthermore, our findings suggest that more passive forum usage may be sufficient for forming bridging social capital, whereas bonding social capital may necessitate more active usage. These findings suggest that Internet forums designated for LGBT adolescents are important resources that can help them to cope with the special challenges they face at this turning point for their identity, deem to decrease the risk of detrimental outcomes, such as depression or even suicide.
Section III: Production
How does gender equity fare in the digital public sphere(s)? To understand the mechanism of the gender gap, this study analyzes the interaction of gender with class, age, and parenthood. With American national survey data, this research compares different types of online content production practices in this blurred digital public sphere(s). Findings show differences between men and women in five of six digital content creation activities. Women are more likely to consume online content; men are more likely to produce it. From more public blogging to more private chatting, inequality persists. Interactions with gender show (1) women from higher educational levels face more inequality compared to their male counterparts than do women from lower educational levels; (2) age is not a factor in the gender gap; and (3) generally, parental status fails to explain the production divide. Understanding the gender gap and its mechanisms can help ameliorate inequalities. Some argue that the Internet is a more egalitarian public platform for women while others find gender inequality. But neither body of research has attended to the blurring of the public and private spheres on the Internet.
An issue and event were tracked for 90 days on Twitter, cable television, and large newspapers. The mortgage and housing crisis was an ongoing issue, and the BP oil spill was an ongoing event. As expected, the results suggest media as a predictor of Twitter for the two issue agendas studied. However, this study shows that the agenda-setting effects on Twitter are not equal in regard to issues and events. The agenda-setting effect of the media appeared to be stronger for the issue observed here. Moreover, initial evidence is provided that agendas for the ongoing events were more volatile than ongoing issues. For ongoing events, it appears that agendas are most reflective of the real-world cues that initiate them. This suggests that when real-world cues are largely absent, the media are less salient, and the agenda is more stable and ongoing. Finally, increased temporality appears to better reveal agenda-setting effects for events. Relaxed temporal measures appear to reveal the agenda-setting effect of ongoing issues more effectively. Events are not all equal; neither are issues. As such, the media and Twitter behave differently. This distinction has not yet been made in the literature.