The effects of mass media use and social capital on civic and political participation

Weiwu Zhang, Stella C. Chia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


More recently, many scholars have lamented the decline of social capital, civic and political participation in American society. This study attempts to clarify the concept of social capital and its major components. We differentiate two dimensions of social capital: trust and social connectedness. In addition, we investigate the differential effects of a full range of media use on civic and political participation. Analysis of data from a telephone survey in Clarksville, Tennessee in 2002 showed that people's social connectedness enhances both civic and political participation. Time spent in reading newspaper and watching public affairs on television was positively correlated with political participation whereas frequency of Internet use and entertainment TV viewing was not. The results also showed no correlation between media use and civic participation. Implications of the findings for future research on democratic citizenship were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Civic Engagement
  • Institutional Trust
  • Interpersonal Trust
  • Political Participation
  • Public Affairs Media Use
  • Social Capital
  • Television


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