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Why Television Does Erode Social Capital And Why Newspaper Reading Does Not

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Chapter Summary

For three decades now, the mass media in Western democracies have continuously been criticized for being potentially harmful to democracy. This chapter explores the most recent contribution to this debate; the hypothesis, put forward by Robert Putnam that television erodes modern democracies' social capital. The chapter provides a detailed discussion of Putnam's propositions about media effects on social capital. It reviews the related evidence that has been accumulated so far. Subsequently, the main hypothesis of the chapter, depicting media effects on social capital in terms of contextual effects, is developed. The chapter enables testing of the hypothesis with regard to both television and the printed press, using data mainly from the 2002 European Social Survey (ESS). It describes the data used for the purpose, and assesses the role of direct exposure to television as well as newspapers for social capital.

Keywords:2002 European Social Survey (ESS); mass media; media malaise; Putnam's propositions; social capital

10.1163/ej.9789004163621.i-328.37
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004163621.i-328.37
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