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Project Information

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION RESEARCH IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: THE INTERNET, RACE, AND DEMOCRACY

Agency:
NSF

National Science Foundation

Project Number:
1160502
Contact PI / Project Leader:
LAU, RICHARD R
Awardee Organization:
RUTGERS THE ST UNIV OF NJ NEW BRUNSWICK

Description

Abstract Text:
This study examines whether Internet use improves the diffusion of political information among minorities, and if Internet use translates into more political participation by members of marginalized groups. Research has shown that the web enables individuals to engage with information selectively. Selective engagement occurs when individuals retrieve news that speaks their political preferences, and ignore information that clashes with already existing opinions. Using panel survey data and an experimental design, the study examines whether the same underlying mechanism that allows citizens to sort themselves into highly partisan information worlds online (via selective exposure to information) also enables members of historically disadvantaged groups to efficiently access information that pertains specifically to them and to their groups' political goals. Moreover, the project addresses whether selective exposure to online news could provide political knowledge gains among minority populations that may translate into better representation by the political system.

The intellectual merit of the project is associated with its three main objectives: (1) to examine how partisanship, ideology, race and ethnicity, as well as group consciousness, influence selective exposure to political information online; (2) to research how selective exposure affects the quality, quantity and strength of political attitudes; (3) to test the impact of selective exposure on political participation and the quality of vote choice. The project employs a multi-method approach to address these objectives. In the first and completed phase of the research, panel data were analyzed to test the role of race/ethnicity in moderating the effects of online news consumption and subsequent attitude change using generalized linear mixed models. Phase II of the research will add an experiment to test what news African-American, Caucasian and Latino subjects select when they are exposed to different information environments, and how news selection impacts the quality, quantity and strength of political attitudes, as well as various forms of participation. The experiment tracks what news sources subjects select, how much time they spend with each news source, how much information they recall, and how news selection impacts opinion and the quality of their choices.

The broader impacts of this research are related to representation and citizenship. Access to information is a critical prerequisite for the realization of full citizenship, and marginalized groups have historically been served poorly by mainstream media. Minorities may therefore stand to gain the most from the vast information found on the web. By examining the role of ethnicity, race and partisanship in the selection of information, and by researching the subsequent development of political knowledge and attitudes, as well as political participation, this research speaks to scholarship in political communications, political psychology, and race and politics. The data generated in this experiment will also be made available to other researchers. The data and findings will be of interest to scholars who are researching information, participation and representation.
Project Terms:
Access to Information; Address; Affect; African American; Attitude; Caucasians; Caucasoid Race; Communication; Conscious; Consumption; Data; Development; Diffusion; Disadvantaged; Environment; Experimental Designs; Exposure to; Goals; improved; Individual; interest; Internet; Knowledge; Latino; member; Methods; Minority; Modeling; news; Phase; Political Systems; Politics; Population; preference; Psychology; Race; Research; Research Personnel; research study; Role; Scholarship; Source; Surveys; Testing; Time; Translating; Voting

Details

Contact PI / Project Leader Information:
Name:  LAU, RICHARD R
Other PI Information:
Not Applicable
Awardee Organization:
Name:  RUTGERS THE ST UNIV OF NJ NEW BRUNSWICK
City:  NEW BRUNSWICK    
Country:  UNITED STATES
Congressional District:
State Code:  NJ
District:  06
Other Information:
Fiscal Year: 2012
Award Notice Date:
DUNS Number: 001912864
Project Start Date: 01-May-2012
Budget Start Date:
CFDA Code: 47.075
Project End Date: 30-Apr-2013
Budget End Date:
Agency: ?

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National Science Foundation
Project Funding Information for 2012:
Year Agency

Agency: The entity responsible for the administering of a research grant, project, or contract. This may represent a federal department, agency, or sub-agency (institute or center). Details on agencies in Federal RePORTER can be found in the FAQ page.

FY Total Cost
2012 NSF

National Science Foundation

$10,950

Results

i

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