Social Representations, News Exposure, and Knowledge Gaps

Lilach Nir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Studies show that public service broadcasters narrow knowledge gaps between politically interested and disinterested because such contexts encourage incidental learning. This reasoning, however, fails to explain why gendered knowledge differences persist in environments that equalize learning. Using stereotype threat theory, I argue that news content emits symbolic gender cues that encourage or discourage women to become politically informed. Methods: Employing European Election Study 2009 voter data (N = 27,000), and multilingual news content analyses from 27 E.U. member states, I test whether more egalitarian representation of women as newsmakers correlates with narrower gaps between men and women. Results: Aggregate and multilevel models show that greater representation of women as newsmakers correlates with smaller gaps in news exposure and political knowledge. Analyses also consider competing explanations such as women's electoral representation, education, labor force participation, and knowledge item guessing rates. Conclusion: Findings support the theoretical expectations regarding symbolic cues and knowledge gaps.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)786-803
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Volume98
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the Southwestern Social Science Association

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