Several COPS members have recently had manusripts accepted for publication. Below are the citations and abstracts:
Eveland, W.P. & Kleinman, S. (in press). Comparing General and Political Discussion Networks Within Voluntary Organizations Using Social Network Analysis. Political Behavior
Political discussion networks are influenced by the opportunities for political interactions within our larger social environments and more general discussion networks. In this study we compare general and political discussion networks using full sociometric social network data from a probability sample of voluntary organizations –specifically, intact student activity groups from a large Midwest research university. We find that even within these “weak tie” voluntary associations, general discussion networks clearly constrain the characteristics of the political discussion networks. However, political discussion networks appear to be less dense and more likely to be broken up into disconnected components than the general discussion networks. But, general and political networks do not appear to differ in their structuring by perceptions of discussant knowledge.And, most interestingly, we find that on average neither general nor political discussionnetworks are characterized by political homogeneity.
Garrett, R. K., Carnahan, D., & Lynch, E. (In press). A turn toward avoidance? Selective exposure to online political information, 2004-2008. Political Behavior
Abstract:Scholars warn that avoidance of attitude-discrepant political information is becoming increasingly common due in part to an ideologically fragmented online news environment that allows individuals to systematically eschew contact with ideas that differ from their own. Data collected over a series of national RDD surveys conducted between 2004 and 2008 challenge this assertion, demonstrating that Americans’ use of attitude-consistent political sources is positively correlated with use of more attitudinally challenging sources. This pattern holds over time and across different types of online outlets, and applies even among those most strongly committed to their political ideology, although the relationship is weaker for this group. Implications for these findings are discussed.
Hayes, A. F., Matthes, J., & Eveland, W. P. (in press). Stimulating the quasi-statistical organ: Fear of social isolation motivates the quest for knowledge of the opinion climate. Communication Research
We tested an uninvestigated propositionfrom spiral of silence theory that fear of social isolation (FSI) prompts people to seek out information about the climate of public opinion. Taking atrait-based individual difference perspective, we develop and validate a measureof FSI that is less likely to produce the interpretational problems that plagueexisting measures. Then, using data from 8 countries spread across four continents, we examine whether those who fear social isolation to a greater extent are more likely to attend to a particular source of information in the social environment about public opinion—mass media reports of public opinion polls. Our results support spiral of silence theory’s prediction—FSI does appear to motivatepeople to ascertain what the public thinks. However, there may be some cultural boundaries to this process.
Nisbet, E.C., Stoycheff, E., & Pearce, K. E., (in press). Demanding democracy online: a multi-level model of Internet use and citizen attitudes about democracy. Journal of Communication.
A successful democracy requires citizens to prefer democratic governance over other political alternatives. In this context, we examine role of the internet in promoting political change through socialization into pro-democracy attitudes. Combining individual public opinion data from Africa and Asia with country-level indices, we test a multi-level model examining the relationship between internet penetration, individual internet use, and citizen demand for democracy across 28 countries. We find internet use, but not national internet penetration, is associated with greater citizen commitment to democratic governance. Furthermore, greater democratization and internet penetration moderates the relationship between internet use and demand for democracy. Implications for understanding how ICT diffusion and internet use may be associated with citizen attitudes about democracy are discussed.