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Within the Context of Many Contexts: Family, News Media Engagement, and the Ecology of Individual Political Development Among Generation Xers

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Using cultural studies and media ecology perspectives, I analyze data collected from 15 Generation Xers about how they remember and understand the roles played by family and news media in the development of their politics-what is usually referred to as political socialization. This study suggests that news media are understood best not as discrete agents of influence, but rather as environments within which individuals develop politically. It finds that news media are of subtle-but-fundamentally powerful ecological importance, not just because news media engagement interrelates with, and takes place in the context of, institutions and phenomena like the family, but because all aspects of the larger culture and society-including family-are themselves shaped by mass media. Future scholarship should denote and more fully explore this fruitful tension between the cultural studies theorization of subjectivity and agency, and the media ecology theorization of media as environments with structuring biases.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Humanities University of Michigan-Dearborn

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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