Social Viewing Impact Of News On Political Participation

Political Participation And Identity Formation
Political Participation And Identity Formation

Social viewing of news, an emerging trend where news consumption and opinion sharing go hand in hand, significantly increases political participation. However, the underlying mechanisms driving this impact remain unclear. Scientists at Dongguk University have now identified the mediating factors—information acquisition, self-expression, and partisan identity—that drive political participation. These findings offer practical insights for political parties, news organizations, and media policymakers to fuel political participation and foster open discussions within democratic societies.

With advancing technology, people can now watch news on live-streaming apps and share their opinions simultaneously. This new trend, known as social viewing of news, increases citizens’ likelihood of participating in politics, such as donating to political parties and engaging in civic group activities. Yet, how social viewing of news influences political participation remains unclear.

Now, however, a recent study led by Professor Yonghwan Kim from the Department of Media and Communication at Dongguk University has developed a theoretical model to bridge this gap. Explaining further, Prof. Kim highlights, “Social viewing offers a new way to advance democratic deliberation. Therefore, it’s important to explore how social viewing can boost political participation and mobilization.” The study was made available online on 27 January 2024, and published in Volume 154 of Computers in Human Behavior on May 2024.

The research team conducted two online surveys before the 2022 presidential election in South Korea. They found that people who frequently engage in social viewing of news, gain diverse knowledge and share their opinions more freely. This makes them feel more attached to a specific political party, which, in turn, makes them more involved in politics.

These findings are important for encouraging social viewing of news and citizen engagement in politics. News outlets can share news on social media, and platforms like YouTube can create features for live news viewers to discuss, engaging citizens in politics actively.

Nonetheless, concerns linger about potential emotional polarization due to strong partisan identities. Sharing his opinions on this, Prof. Kim suggests, “Exposure to diverse perspectives can reduce polarization. So, social media companies and policymakers should also ensure that comments in online discussions are of high quality. It will help create an open and inclusive space where everyone can participate in discussions for a healthy democracy.”

In summary, this study redefines the role of social viewing of news, highlighting its relevance to understanding today’s media and political scenario and its impact on political participation and democracy.


Authors: Yi Wang, Yonghwan Kim, and Han Lin

Title of original paper: Social viewing of news and political participation: The mediating roles of information acquisition, self-expression, and partisan identity

Journal: Computers in Human Behavior

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