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The Political Psychology of Democratic Citizenship$
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Eugene Borgida, Christopher M Federico, and John L Sullivan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195335453

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335453.001.0001

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Collective Identity and the Mass Media

Collective Identity and the Mass Media

(p.277) Chapter 12 Collective Identity and the Mass Media
The Political Psychology of Democratic Citizenship

William A. Gamson

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between media practices in the United States and normative conceptualizations of a healthy democracy. While a media system that discourages participation meets the normative standards of representative democracy, democratic theorizations that call for an active and engaged citizenry require a media that can develop and articulate a sense of collective identity. From this normative perspective, the chapter explores the personalization of news and the media's use of adversarial frames. Each of these media trajectories presents a double-edged sword for advocates of participation-oriented democratic theory. Personalization tends to discourage the development of a collective identity, yet it also provides the opportunity for grassroots constituencies to mobilize around particular issues. Likewise, adversarial framing encourages individuals to actively participate on behalf of one side of a conflict. At the same time, adversarial frames can create unnecessary and misleading oppositions, and impede the development of cooperation and coalition formation.

Keywords:   political communication, political participation, social identity, political discourse, framing

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