- The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication
- Political Communication: Then, Now, and Beyond
- Creating the Hybrid Field of Political Communication: A Five-Decade-Long Evolution of the Concept of Effects
- The Shape of Political Communication
- A Typology of Media Effects
- The Power of Political Communication
- Nowhere to Go: Some Dilemmas of Deliberative Democracy
- How to Think Normatively About News and Democracy
- Not a Fourth Estate but a Second Legislature
- Presidential Address
- Political Messages and Partisanship
- Political Advertising
- Political Campaign Debates
- Niche Communication in Political Campaigns
- The Functional Theory of Political Campaign Communication
- The Political Uses and Abuses of Civility and Incivility
- The Politics of Memory
- Two-Step Flow, Diffusion, and the Role of Social Networks in Political Communication
- Taking Interdependence Seriously: Platforms for Understanding Political Communication
- Disagreement in Political Discussion
- The Internal Dynamics and Political Power of Small Group Political Deliberation
- Ethnography of Politics and Political Communication: Studies in Sociology and Political Science
- Self-censorship, the Spiral of Silence, and Contemporary Political Communication
- Collective Intelligence: The Wisdom and Foolishness of Deliberating Groups
- Broadcasting versus Narrowcasting: Do Mass Media Exist in the Twenty-First Century?
- Online News Consumption in the United States and Ideological Extremism
- New Media and Political Campaigns
- Political Discussion and Deliberation Online
- The Political Effects of Entertainment Media
- Theories and Effects of Political Humor: Discounting Cues, Gateways, and the Impact of Incongruities
- Music as Political Communication
- Conditions for Political Accountability in a High-Choice Media Environment
- Political Communication: Looking Ahead
Abstract and Keywords
An increasing array of political communication scholars and political scientists now include interpersonal communication as part of their models. The central theoretical foundation for much of that work owes much to two long-running works of literature directly intersecting in, and stemming from, Katz and Lazarsfeld’s 1955 Personal Influence: research on the two-step flow and investigation of information diffusion. Consequently, a broad overview of political communication theories calls for a discussion of the theoretical underpinnings of the two-step flow (and its linkage to diffusion), major findings to date, and future directions for research. This essay provides such a discussion. While evidence has suggested a somewhat more complicated picture of the sequence of information and influence flow than described in the earliest formulations of the two-step flow hypothesis, the general theoretical orientation suggested by that tradition continues to be relevant to political communication in the 21st century.
Brian G. Southwell (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is a Senior Research Scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He is also a Research Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published numerous papers on the roles of interpersonal conversation in campaign effects and co-edited a special issue of Communication Theory on that topic.
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