New CCCR publication “Breaking the “Virtuous Circle”: How Partisan Communication Flows Can Erode Social Trust but Drive Participation”

New article “Breaking the “Virtuous Circle”: How Partisan Communication Flows Can Erode Social Trust but Drive Participation” in Human Communication Research from the Center for Communication and Civic Renewal.

Abstract

We examine how individuals’ interactions with the shifting contemporary communication ecology—either by seeking information selectively from partisan sources or immersing themselves in a broad range of partisan communications — relate to shifting levels of social trust and online engagement. Using national panel surveys of young adults (i.e., millennials age 18–34) collected over the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we find that individuals’ partisan communication flows—calculated by algorithmically combining patterns of news consumption, social media use, and political talk—explain: (a) polarized shifts in levels of trust towards people of other nationalities, religions, races, and ethnicities and (b) increases in levels of online political engagement. By elaborating the relationship between citizens’ communication patterns and their levels of trust and participation, this research forces a reconsideration of theoretical traditions in the field of communication, especially those linking mass and interpersonal processes in the study of social capital.

Jiyoun Suk, Dhavan V Shah, Douglas M McLeod, Breaking the “Virtuous Circle”: How Partisan Communication Flows Can Erode Social Trust but Drive Participation, Human Communication Research, Volume 48, Issue 1, January 2022, Pages 88–115, https://doi.org/10.1093/hcr/hqab015

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