Thursday, April 4, 2013

Information-Rich Environments

Studies in the knowledge gap tradition examine the differences between those who know a little and those who know a lot about, usually, local issues.  They also focus on education as a key explanatory factor.  This new study in Acta Politica (full pdf here) comes from a comparative perspective of European countries to establish that information-rich environments can "crucially narrow knowledge inequalities between
high- and low-status citizens."

The study uses respondents from Austria to the United Kingdom, 27 countries in all, to support previous work that two concepts best explain what people know about politics and public affairs -- motivation and ability.  Simply put, if you care (motivation) and are able (education and information) you tend to know more.  This study adds a new twist, arguing for opportunity, that "their contextual opportunities to become informed about politics" are also important.  So we have a triad: motivation, ability, and opportunity -- which sounds a bit like a suspect in a murder case, but makes sense here.

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