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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In recent years political communication scholars have begun to build a small but important body of quantitative research suggesting that the consumption of entertainment media can affect how citizens learn about, think about, and act in the political world. However, we have limited our ability to understand this relationship by treating entertainment media as a distinct and ghettoized area of study and by an overreliance on theories originating in the study of news and other overtly public affairs media. This chapter argues that what constitutes “politics,” “political engagement,” “political effects,” and “politically relevant media” is not based on inherent qualities of a particular genre, medium, or topic, but is rather are socially constructed. This has always been true, but it is arguably more so in the information environment of the twenty-first century, which for a variety of reasons challenges the presumed distinction between “news” and “entertainment.”

Keywords: cultivation analysis, entertainment media, internet, media effects, news, political effects, political engagement, social capital, social networking, social trust

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