Saturday, December 11, 2010

Post-broadcast democracy - Markus Prior (2007)

Prior, Markus. 2007. Post-broadcast democracy : how media choice increases inequality in political involvement and polarizes elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Obviously, recent trend in public opinion studies has emphasized the importance of exogenous factors, such as community environment (e.g., racial composition, or population density, or community income level), median environment like the main predictor variable in this study (e.g., the number of stations, or the time when the cable television was introduced).

Markus Prior’s study seems plausible and his evidence is telling and supportive of what he wants to say in his book. The main arguments in this book,
1. Recently, media provide more choice (or opportunities) for people,
2. People have different media content preference, which influences the intake of their political information (measured as relative entertainment preference),
3. Since political information is critical factor in OMA framework, change of media environment leads to change in political opportunities, motivations, and ability.

If readers familiar with Prior’s journal articles published in top-tiered political science journals, they will follow his argument rapidly (Of course, many of chapters are based on his records of publication).

Important study giving readers great insight… However, I have one more question that I am always curious with. If some people who do not want to listen, see, or learn anything about politics, then their lives in low media-choice (i.e., situations that they had to absorb political information without any voluntary willingness) can be good? Further, their lives in such situations can be ideal or desirable, from the perspective of political regime called plural democracy?

I assume that many scholars took implicit assumption that more knowledge and more importantly more active voting should be needed, and any situations hurting those ideals would erode democracy. Probably true, but personal opinion is this sounds too much eliticism in these arguments. As I more read about so-called empirical political studies, I have to confess that these studies clearly demonstrated that any democracy has to be unequal. Powerful people have powerful voice (not desirable, but this seems okay, at least to me), but too frequently, weak people’s voices have copied powerful people’s voice, and simply justifying the preexisting regime and its structure.

What about Swifter – borrowed from Prior’s terms? If they learned something about politics, and if they participated due to the gained knowledge, their participation would reflect sincere and genuine their interest? Or simple swung by intensity of marketing-type electoral campaigns? How can we be certain that their knowledge and their participation are merely pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-participation?

If people do not want to be informed, is it better way to let them be uninformed and to let them escape their unwanted duty from the choice of collective decisionmaking?

Although I said above, I am not certain that this seems right. Just thought.

Anyway, Prior’s “Post-broadcast democracy” is good piece and enjoyable book, I believe.

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