The Relationship Between Various Contextual Factors and Its Effect on Political Conversation and Participation

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Many communication theories, as well as various disciplines of social science, have investigated the multifaceted relationship between various communicative involvement and political or civic participation in light of deliberative democracies. As Delli Carpini and his colleagues (Delli Carpini, Cook, & Jacobs, 2004, p. 316) note, “At least one tradition within democratic theory has long designated public deliberation as a cornerstone of participatory democracy and representative government.” Here, public deliberation largely means various forms of everyday political conversation⎯“By ‘political conversation’ we mean all kinds of political talk, discussion, or argument as long as they are voluntarily carried out by free citizens without any specific purpose or predetermined agenda” (Kim, Wyatt, & Katz, 1999, p. 362). Numerous studies point to the fact that everyday political conversation has significant impacts on public life. Political conversation enhances political knowledge (Cappella, Price, & Nir, 2002; Eveland & Hively, 2009; Eveland et al., 2005; Kim et al., 1999), quality of opinion (Kim & Kim, 2008; Kim et al., 1999), and issue elaboration or reflection (Mcleod, Scheufele, & Moy, 1999; Cho et al., 2009). Furthermore, political conversation also contribute individuals’ political tolerance and social trust (Huckfeldt, Johnson, & Sprague, 2004), community involvement (Kim & Ball-Rokeach, 2006), and ultimately, political participation (Cho at al., 2009; Delli Carpini et al., 2004; Rojas, Shah, & Friedland, 2011; Shah et al., 2005; Wyatt, Katz, & Kim, 2000). In essence, “political conversation is indeed the heart of deliberative democracy” (Kim et al., 1999, p. 380).

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