Friday, March 28, 2014

What People Know ... in Japan

Political knowledge is apparently rarely studied in Japan, or so says this abstract of a new paper you may or may not be able to access depending on whether you're on a college campus or not. That's okay. I'm here for you.

The authors find that "in line with previous studies in the US context, that knowledge is explained by education, gender, and politically impinged employment as base factors, with interest, efficacy, and civic duty playing a role as second-stage behavioral factors." It's good to see basic results confirmed cross nations and cultures. The media stuff, though, is interesting. Soft news depresses knowledge, in this analysis, while print and even television traditional news improve political knowledge.  As the authors note:
At the same time, our findings lend credence to previous work that raises concerns about the ‘infotainization’ of Japanese (and US) news programming (e.g., Taniguchi, 2007; Prior, 2005). Rather than demystifying or democratizing Japanese politics, softer programs may simply be perpetuating extant gaps between elites and the public.
In other words, soft news may maintain or even increase the knowledge gap seen in the public -- even in Japan.

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