PSCI 213
Mass Media and American Politics Fall 2023
Division II
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Class Details

According to recent estimates, the average American spends 11 hours per day consuming media–that is, watching television and movies, reading print sources, listening to music, radio, and podcasts, and scrolling social media. How does all of that media consumption influence the American political system? Scholars, practitioners, and observers of American politics have debated whether the net effect is positive or negative. Critics argue that today’s media is shallow and uninformative, a vector of misinformation, and a promoter of extremism and violence. Some defenders argue that the media is a convenient scapegoat for problems that are endemic to human societies, while others claim that it actually facilitates political action aimed at addressing long-ignored injustices. In addition to addressing this important question about the health of American democracy, students will learn how the traditional media and social media influences Americans’ political attitudes and behaviors. Among the topics we will discuss are the incentives, norms, and practices of news-making organizations; how politicians try to sway the public during campaigns; how the media covers campaigns; and how the media influences Americans’ racial attitudes.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 1700
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two short (4-5 page) papers, one non-written assignment roughly equivalent to a 8-12 page paper in terms of workload, a final exam, and class participation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political science majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI American Politics Courses

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