Television and political alienation in Japan - Television...

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Television and political alienation in Japan Shinichi Saito Department of Communication Tokyo Woman's Christian University 2-6-1 Zempukuji, Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 167-8585 E-mail: [log in to unmask] the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual meeting at San Antonio, August 10-August 13, 2005
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Abstract Putnam's time displacement hypothesis and Robinson's videomalaise hypothesis have not received sufficient supporting evidence from studies undertaken in the United States and a number of European countries. However, it remains unknown whether television causes similar demobilization effects in Japan. Therefore, this study examined whether television cultivates political alienation in Japan. To address this issue, this study was based on the assumption that effects resulting from television content and use of the medium per se combine in a complex manner to produce political alienation. Past research has indicated that Japanese political alienation is comprised of three dimensions: political apathy, political inefficacy, and political cynicism. Data from a survey conducted in Tokyo revealed that frequent viewers were more likely to be politically apathetic and feel politically inefficacious than were infrequent viewers. Among viewers who did not watch the news on NHK (public television), television viewing was also related to political cynicism. We examine the implications of our findings and provide some directions for future research.
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Television and political alienation in Japan In many democratic societies, including Japan, political apathy, disaffection, distrust, and indifference are common among the general public, especially the younger generation. This sort of negative political consciousness (negative attitudes or feelings toward politics) can only have a negative effect on democracy. Some researchers argue that along with various other factors embedded in political systems, mass media, especially television, play a crucial role in promoting or intensifying political apathy or cynicism (e.g., Cappella and Jamieson, 1997; Ootake, 2003; Patterson, 1993, Putnam, 1995, Robinson, 1976, Taniguchi, 2002). Condemnation of mass media as a negative force against democracy can be traced back to Lazarsfeld and Merton's (1948/1971) idea of narcotizing dysfunction. These authors argued that mass media allow the general public to be in touch with the world, but that mass media "may elicit only a superficial concern with the problems of society, and this superficiality often cloaks mass apathy" (p. 565). According to them, the audience "comes to mistake knowing about problems of the day for doing something about them" (italics original) and "quite apart from intent, increasing dosages of mass communications may be inadvertently transforming the energies of men from active participation into passive knowledge" (p. 566). Concerning narcotizing dysfunction, Wright (1986) wrote that "the individual,
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Television and political alienation in Japan - Television...

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