Mediated and moderated effects of political communication on civic participation


Work data:

Type of work: Article (academic)


e-Democracy | Politics and Political Science | Social Media & Social Software


Australian scholars and politicians have long been concerned about politically uninformed and inactive young Australians. However, few efforts have been made to explain how the use of traditional and online media may affect youth’s participation in politics. Our research utilises the citizen communication mediation model and extends the expected mediation chain by an additional examination of the possible interactions between news media use and political discussions, as suggested by the differential gains model. Using representative data from Australian 10th graders, we examine whether and how news media usage (newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet) affects expected participation in a range of civic and political activities conditional of discussions about political issues (with family, friends, and online). Path models account for additional mediators (civic knowledge and civic efficacy) and control variables to explain future civic and political participation. The results suggest that news media use stimulates political discussions, although different media exert differential effects. Yet, news exposure hardly influences the second mediators (civic knowledge and civic efficacy) in a direct manner. In fact, civic knowledge and efficacy mediate the relationships between political communication and participation, both directly and sequentially. Moderation analyses clarify that despite the mediating role of political discussions, news media exposure also influences (future) civic participation contingent of students’ engagement in (primarily Internet-based) discussions about political and social issues. We emphasise the significance of these results with reference to previous research, discuss potential directions for future research, and draw conclusions for civics and citizenship education.