On Media: Making Sense of Politics

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9780199945986: On Media: Making Sense of Politics

Even as more and more communications avenues open up, are Americans losing their political IQ? Some democratic theorists bemoan citizen apathy, ignorance, and incapacity to make sound political judgments. Renowned media scholar Doris Graber contends that such assessments are based on impractical and outmoded models of measuring citizen awareness and engagement. Using what she calls "reality-based" research methods and a sensitivity to contemporary trends, Graber finds that average people understand many political issues and can think about them in complex ways. She reports her new research on learning from entertainment offerings, emphasizing its novel aspects, including experiments, interviews, message board analyses, and stimulus dramas. The book includes companion studies carried out in the Netherlands and Greece designed to test whether the American findings are culture-specific or hold true across cultural settings. A capstone reflection by a communications authority, On Media offers new approaches to timeworn topics and projects an emerging image of public political knowledge that is at once encouraging, inspirational, and fascinating in its contour and detail.

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About the Author:

Doris A. Graber is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She has authored or edited numerous books including, most recently, the eighth edition of Media Power in Politics (2010). A Chinese edition of The Power of Communication also appeared in 2010.


"From the nightly news to the Simpsons, Doris Graber explores our civic IQ and tells us how Americans learn about politics. Clearly written and provocative, this book will stimulate discussion and help break down the boundaries between different kinds of media content and how we engage with politics." --Lance Bennett, University of Washington

"On Media offers a clear and practical guide to how citizens learn about politics from the news and television dramas. Graber demonstrates how compelling storytelling is at the heart of learning by analyzing the kinds of information that citizens need to be civically competent. Drawing on multiple methods (including content analysis, experiments and interviews), the book compares learning in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Greece to illuminate different types of learning across cultures." --Ann N. Crigler, University of Southern California

"Doris Graber has pioneered the field of political communication research for decades and with her On Media she continues to do so. In a well-documented, accessible, data-rich, and provocative book she challenges conventional wisdom about the ignorant citizen and the failing media. The positive message that 'average citizens can understand politics' is a welcome punch line in academic research, politics, and popular debate." --Claes de Vreese, University of Amsterdam

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