Collective Identity and the Mass Media
This chapter explores the relationship between media practices in the United States and normative conceptualizations of a healthy democracy. While a media system that discourages participation meets the normative standards of representative democracy, democratic theorizations that call for an active and engaged citizenry require a media that can develop and articulate a sense of collective identity. From this normative perspective, the chapter explores the personalization of news and the media's use of adversarial frames. Each of these media trajectories presents a double-edged sword for advocates of participation-oriented democratic theory. Personalization tends to discourage the development of a collective identity, yet it also provides the opportunity for grassroots constituencies to mobilize around particular issues. Likewise, adversarial framing encourages individuals to actively participate on behalf of one side of a conflict. At the same time, adversarial frames can create unnecessary and misleading oppositions, and impede the development of cooperation and coalition formation.
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