Individual Political Participation: The Effects of Social Structure and Communication Behavior


Journal Article

Although researchers attempting to quantify theories of individual political participation have assumed that mass media use is a recursive cause of such participation, an argument could be made for a return effect of political activity on media use. The “uses and gratifications” tradition in communication research, for example, views media use as purposive behavior that is influenced by the users social situation. In this paper the possibilty of a bidirectional relationship between mass media use and political participation is examined using the Two-Stage Least Squares technique. The data used to estimate model parameters are from a 1971 statewide survey of North Carolina. Separate analyses were conducted for male and female respondents to explore sex differences in the processes leading to individual political participation. Mass media use is shown to have an effect on participation in both the male and female subsamples. Political activity has a positive return effect on media use in the female subsample, but there is no significant return effect in the male subsample. Generally, the results indicate that models which specify media use as a unidirectional cause of participation behavior may be incorrect and wider use of techniques which allow the investigation of non-recursive relationships is recommended. © 1979, Pacific Sociological Association. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smith-Lovin, L

Published Date

  • January 1, 1979

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 23 - 50

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0731-1214

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/1388894

Citation Source

  • Scopus