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Tweeting to PowerThe Social Media Revolution in American Politics$
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Jason Gainous and Kevin M. Wagner

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199965076

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199965076.001.0001

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Public Opinion 2.0—The Direct Conduit

Public Opinion 2.0—The Direct Conduit

(p.119) 8 Public Opinion 2.0—The Direct Conduit
Tweeting to Power

Jason Gainous

Kevin M. Wagner

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an in-depth exploration of the attitudinal implications of the use of online social media. Working from the premise that politicians are able to circumvent traditional gatekeepers through online social media through an appeal to constituents who are receptive to one-sided information flows, driven by their desire to avoid exposure to information that challenges their predispositions, this chapter explores the implications of that new information structure. The findings show that increased consumption of political information through social media results in crystallized and more extreme attitudes as consumers avoid cognitive dissonance by seeking out information with which they already agree. Interestingly, while the social media leads to more extreme attitudes, the data show a positive effect in that it also promotes political participation.

Keywords:   gatekeepers, public opinion, cognitive dissonance, political participation

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