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Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Marlin Bates

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray

Abstract

Social Networking Sites (SNS) have extremely high rates of young adult users. Facebook.com report.s that more than half of its users are of college age. Due to the increasing number of political figures and political information on SNS, this study analyzes the relationship between SNS and political engagement. Specifically, this study seeks to determine if adults' consumption of political information on SNS leads to higher levels of political engagement. Political engagement is broken down into three different variables: political knowledge, political interest, and political participation. This study draws its data from a sample of 355 undergraduate college students. Data was collected through a volunteer self-administered survey questionnaire. Three sections respectively measured political engagement, social networking site dependency for political information, and demographic information. Data were collected from a junior college and a private university in Northern California.

This study found a positive relationship between SNS dependency for political information and political interest and participation. In other words, individuals who depend on SNS for political information have higher levels of political interest and participation. There was no significant relationship found between political knowledge and SNS dependency. These results suggest that SNS may help foster political engagement in young adults.

Pages

60

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